Please Think in Time – Adapting History to Current Crisis’s

Recently the Islamic Republic of Iran test fired some ballistic missiles in violation of the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions and in violation of the spirit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. While President Trump was entertaining Japanese PM Abe, North Korea launched a medium range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. Both actions are very serious and an obvious test of the new administration. Iran will never stop its development of a Nuclear bomb with the obvious target of Israel, and North Korea is an out of control rouge nation run by a sociopath. Both incidents were reported in the news but did not dominate. What has dominated the headlines is the story of a presidential advisors off handed remark on a talk show that has become seen as an endorsement of the Presidents daughters clothing line. The more serious story is that the new Director of National Security may have spoken out of turn to the Russian Ambassador on handling of sanctions.

The Kelly Anne Conway debate is a side show, as anyone with an ounce of common sense knows, it was an offhanded remark in the spirit of the moment and not a serious endorsement. The problem with Gen Flynn may go deeper. Not because he may have violated the Logan Act, which has never been enforced in 200 years, but by his evasion. Even with that, the degree and severity of any punishment must be less then removal from his position.  

The Logan act was passed in the time of President John Adams because of tensions between the US and France. A Pennsylvania legislator, Dr. George Logan, took it upon himself to intervene, entering negotiations with France which in fact worked to ease the tension. Despite its success, the Federalists in the government where not happy and passed the act which says

“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

 

This law, which has never been enforced, has been violated several times, most recently by the past administration of Barack Obama. Technically President Obama violated the law when while in Iraq he attempted to negotiate a delay in troop withdrawal while President Bush was still in office. In 2008 than, candidate Obama, sent retired Amb. William Miller to Iran to assure them they would be happy with his administration. Before this a little-known aspect of the Cuban Missile Crisis saw the Kennedy White House use ABC News reporter John Scali as a go between for the White House and the Soviet government. This was a violation, since the contact was initiated by the Soviet Ambassador Alexander S. Fomin, through the KGB station chief. The result was a peaceful solution but not before Scali told the Soviets in an unauthorized remark that the US was on the verge of invading Cuba.

 

The Logan act is therefore not relevant now, or ever, the problem is the evasion of the discussion. Not knowing the motives of Gen Flynn for evading the question I know that it is a serious violation of trust, unless he was in fact acting on behalf of the President-Elect. I also know that Flynn is an intelligent person with experiences that the new administration should not give up lightly. This of course would not be the case if Flynn had gone off the ranch and acted alone.

 

Two things I would like to say before the end. One, the amount of coverage this is getting vice the reporting on Iran and North Korea is a problem. Both nations are avowed enemies of the US and if not stopped soon will have the ability to attack us with nuclear weapons. This must be addressed before worrying about Conway or Flynn. Second I suggest if anyone is interested, to read a book by Richard E. Neustadt and Ernest R. May titled – Thinking in Time/The Uses of History for Decision Makers. This book will help you understand that today’s crisis’s have answers in history.  

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