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Opinion: Having had stars does not make you good

Michael Jarnevic

“I’m going to release the Kraken,” boasted Sidney Powell, a former Wunderkind lawyer for the fired National Security Adviser and forcefully retired lieutenant general, Michael Flynn. Alas, what is being released is the ever-frightening, inner crackpot that Donald Trump seems so adept at fostering.

Flynn, that disgraced, repeatedly dismissed, then indicted, convicted of perjury, then pardoned, is no stranger to controversy, and was opposed for National Security Advisor by Governor Chris Christie, as a “loose cannon.” While serving as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, he was regarded as having “a loose relationship with the truth,” which were referred to as “Flynn facts.”

And, while DIA director, his cozy association with a Russian female, possibly also “loose,” generated rumors that he had perhaps been compromised by Russian intelligence. This was especially disconcerting as Flynn had been previously reprimanded for sharing classified intelligence with Pakistan while Director of Intelligence for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Michael Flynn’s long, strange trip, first as a junior Army officer, subsequently receiving stars as a general officer, DIA director, advisor to the Trump apparatus, and now the darling of the Q Anon conspiracy cabal, has finally tripped into the lowest depths of depravity in his call to the President to “exercise the Extraordinary Powers of his office and declare limited Martial Law to temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections in order to have the military implement a national re-vote that reflects the true will of the people.”

There is no word or idiom that adequately describes how dangerously preposterous this is to American freedom and democracy. The phrase “martial law” might very well be two of the filthiest words in the American lexicon.

As sons of the Enlightenment, the Founding Fathers had much to say about the role of the military in the newly minted United States of America. From their experience with the British military, which were feared as a menace to human rights and freedom, standing professional armies were perceived as a threat to the republic, especially if used against the citizenry in domestic oppression. This, is exactly what El Jefe Flynn has suggested as a military solution to the will of the people…and freedom be damned.

When I was a mere sergeant major, I too wore a star on my chevrons—and in no way will I be silly enough to compare that rank and position to that of a three star general—but I will say this: never in my career did I let that star so alter my mindset as to think that it entitled me to propose things such as subverting the US Constitution—precisely what Michael Flynn has done by suggesting that military intervention is the final recourse in repudiating the will of the people that was clearly stated by over 80 million voters.

But to a minority of former general officers, those shiny stars still loom large in their starstruck eyes, forever inflicting a state of perceived grandeur that refuses to expire, even following retirement, and in Flynn’s case, forced retirement. General: elevated rank—stars—does not imbue you with smarts or insight or leadership, nor does it always make you right. Your promotion was not ordained by God and if you were a nitwit going in, you will surely be a nitwit coming out.

America prides itself on the sacred principles of democracy and a wide variety of freedoms; any constraint on those freedoms is regarded with anger and revulsion. Paradoxically, Michael Flynn has declared: “Freedom never kneels except for God.” That may very well be, but quite rightly, freedom doesn’t kneel before you, either … general.

Michael Jarnevic is a retired US Army sergeant major with 42 years of continuous service in both the USMC and US Army Special Forces. Currently, he is a freelance writer, outdoor lecturer, and environmental activist residing outside of Missoula, Montana.