An actual answer exists: In our view, the Trump administration seems to be in the grip of apparent madness.
In our view, we need to learn how to discuss the administration's peculiar behaviors in terms of possible mental health issues. We see few signs that major journalists are going to learn how to do that.
That said, Nicholas Kristof asks a basic question in today's New York Times column. Rather, he quotes a former general counsel to the CIA asking the question:
“The bigger issue here is why Trump and people around him take such a radically different view of Russia than has been the case for decades. We don’t know the answer to that.”
Let's start with Trump himself. We have no idea why Trump would "take such a radically different view of Russia than has been the case for decades."
Many people have suggested the possibility of nefarious motives on Trump's part. Certainly, that could be the case.
We also don't know why Michael Flynn has "take[n] such a radically different view of Russia than has been the case for decades." But in Flynn's case, there's a fairly straightforward possible answer. That answer is found in David Ignatius' column in yesterday's Washington Post.
In his column, Ignatius outlined the path which led to Flynn's recent dismissal by Trump. Along the way, he described the reasons why a person with Flynn's global views would be inclined to favor friendly relations with Russia.
Below, Ignatius describes Flynn's apparent worldview. Broadly speaking, Ignatius described a person who thinks the pre-existing "east-west" split between the US and Russia should be replaced by a "north-south" split, with the US and Russia aligning against the Islamic world:
IGNATIUS (2/15/17): Along the way, Flynn became enthusiastic about improving liaison with Russia, which he saw as a natural counterterrorism partner. He visited the Russian military-intelligence agency, the GRU, in 2013, and came back advocating greater cooperation in monitoring Syrian chemical weapons. Even after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, Flynn proposed inviting the intelligence chiefs of its various theater commands to Washington for discussions. His superiors rejected what they saw as a supremely ill-timed proposal.For a person who thinks that "Islamic terrorism" represents an existential threat to the US, a new alignment with Russia would make an obvious type of sense. This seems to be Flynn's general view of the world.
After Flynn was forced out in 2014, he complained that his ouster reflected disagreements about Middle East strategy. Colleagues at the time say it was simply a story of management failure—a good officer in the wrong job.
An embittered Flynn continued to advocate closer cooperation with Russia—and began issuing strident denunciations of the Obama administration. He told Al Jazeera television in August 2015 that the rise of the Islamic State was a “willful Washington decision.” He told the German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2015 that U.S. military operations in Iraq and Libya had been a “mistake” and a “strategic failure.” These became major themes for Donald Trump, whose campaign Flynn informally began advising in late 2015.
Flynn did something in December 2015 that has haunted him ever since. He gave a paid speech in Moscow at the 10th-anniversary celebration of Russia Today, a global cable network described by U.S. intelligence as “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.” The RT interviewer pushed him to say positive things about U.S.-Russian cooperation, and Flynn complied.
“Stop being like two bullies in the playground!” Flynn said in Moscow. “It’s a marriage, whether we like it or not, and that marriage is very, very rocky right now,” he said. In a separate RT interview in Moscow, he urged that the two countries share intelligence and operations centers against Islamic terrorism. Flynn sat next to President Vladimir Putin at a celebratory dinner on that 2015 trip.
We can't picture Donald J. Trump holding this view of the world, or any other view of the world. Presumably, though, this type of thinking may help explain Flynn's attraction to alignment with Russia.
Flynn struck us as one of the dangerous nuts within TrumpWorld. At the Republican convention, he led chants of "lock her up." He retweeted PizzaGate. His son, who was his chief of staff in the private world, seems overtly crazy.
We're in slightly better shape with Flynn gone, though the most dangerous player remains. Again, we need to find ways to discuss Donald Trump's strange behavior.
That said, Ignatius' column provides a possible answer to the question Kristof posed. In our view, Trump's motive for loving the Russkies remains completely unclear. However deranged you may judge it to be, FlynnThink may be less mysterious.
Concerning Russia Today and Big Ed: Did you know that Ed Schultz is now "the lead news anchor for RT America, the domestic network of what was once known as Russia Today?"
Shortly before Christmas, Paul Farhi profiled Schultz for the Washington Post. He focused on Schultz's denial that Russia interfered in the Trump/Clinton election. According to Farhi, Schultz dismisses the claim as fake news. He blames the BS on Clinton.
We'll recommend caution with a topic like this, but it's an interesting read.
Schultz started out as a right-wing radio talker; became a progressive host on MSNBC, now works for the Russkies. We haven't seen his work for RT, but there seem to be quite a few miles on his car.
Not to mention Schultz's private plane, with which Farhi closes his profile. Its previous owner was Arnold Palmer.
Ain't work as a newsman grand?