Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn appeared on Sunday's Meet the Press as a surrogate for Donald Trump. Flynn defended Trump's foreign policy doctrine of not telegraphing "what we're doing" to our enemies.
"In your previous segment, you mentioned a red line," Flynn began. "Why do we state any red lines? We just had the Secretary of Defense on the other day, telling the world essentially which towns we were going to conduct an enveloping movement against Mosul. I mean it's just insane. We keep telling people how many troops we're going to send in, where they're going to go. I mean we're the best enemies in the world. Our enemies love when we telegraph what we're doing."
Transcript, via NBC News:
CHUCK TODD, 'MEET THE PRESS' MODERATOR: Lieutenant General Michael Flynn spent 33 years in the military, culminating with his position as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 through 2014. His influence can be heard in some of Trump's thinking on global security and the fight against terrorism. And he was vetted to be Trump's running mate. Flynn, who just this year released The Field of Fight. It's his book on how to tackle international terrorism. And he joins me now. General Flynn, welcome to Meet the Press.
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Thanks for having me, Chuck, appreciate it.
CHUCK TODD: As you know, this week there have been questions raised about Donald Trump's temperament when it comes to national security issues. The Clinton campaign wants to make it a big issue. I want to play you just a quick excerpt of a new video they have hitting them today. Take a look.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: The prime objective of the foreign policy of Putin has been to destroy NATO
DONALD TRUMP: NATO is obsolete and it's extremely expensive to the United States.
CHUCK TODD: This gets at this issue of Putin, Russia and NATO.
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Right.
CHUCK TODD: Let me ask you unequivocally, where is he on NATO? Does he believe in it as a robust, important institution?
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Yeah. I mean I'm going to state, just like the current Supreme Allied Commander just recently said: What NATO needs to be done with is it needs to be modernized. The organizations, the nations, that are part of NATO, they need to understand what their capabilities are. And they need to understand what their responsibilities are.
And one of those responsibilities, when you become a member of NATO and you sign up for the responsibilities that not only come with providing capability, but also, being able to have others respond for you in time of need, is to pay your bills. And I mean that's a big deal. So this doesn't mean that we're not going to support our responsibilities as America. But this means people have to realize--
CHUCK TODD: He actually said that he might withhold, that you have to think about those things. I mean was that a responsible thing to say?
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Yeah, I think what we have to do is we have to make sure that we understand what our responsibilities are in an alliance like N.A.T.O.. And I think that, again, I'm going to go back to what I have seen our previous, particularly our military commanders, but also, others that are part of this system, if you will, this alliance, that have said that they understand that they need to do more.
CHUCK TODD: This issue of Russia, though, does keep coming back with Donald Trump. Mike Morrell, former acting director of the C.I.A.--
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Yeah, I know Mike.
CHUCK TODD: --I'm guessing, somebody you worked with.
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: I know Mike.
CHUCK TODD: Putin of Russia, he called him, he said, "Was a career intelligence officer," this is what he wrote in The New York Times Friday, "trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump's vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated. In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: So is Putin treating the Global Clinton Initiative as a witting, as a participant? I mean there-- so I mean what you're asking is something that is a hypothetical versus what we know is going on with the Clintons and their relationships with Russia and Russian organizations. I mean not just in Russia. So and I think that's something that-- there has to be a give and take on this, on all of these comments and all of the things that are out in the media right now.
CHUCK TODD: Okay, but there's a feeling of a close relationship with Putin. And let me go back to NATO. Do you believe NATO, I mean in its current capacity--
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Here's what I would say about NATO--
CHUCK TODD: -- is a check on Russia? It was created to be a check on the old Soviet Union.
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Right.
CHUCK TODD: Does it still need to be a check on Russia?
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: The assumptions that NATO was built upon, post-World War II, they need to be revisited. Because there is a highly complex threat environment that we are facing. And NATO needs to come to grips with sort of the modernization, the resources, the types of capabilities that we need. And I think that there's been some recent changes and some recent things that have been taken by NATO.
But this is really not so much about NATO, but it's about how we, as Americans, and how we, as America, decide how we are going to operate in the 21st century. We're already into the second decade, Chuck. And we are behind the power curve in so many ways.
CHUCK TODD: Well, all right. Let me ask you this, though. When we were talking about he was asked about Ukraine, he was asked about Crimea, and he sort of implied that, "All right, that's over and done with. The Russians can keep Crimea," it was an-- and he didn't say it directly, but he sort of implied that.
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Yeah.
CHUCK TODD: Is that--
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: To be specific about how you-- I think for all the media, how they address the things that he is saying, and what it is that we have to do as America--
CHUCK TODD: Let me ask you this.
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: --to think about what it is that we're doing.
CHUCK TODD: Do you believe the Russians are illegally--
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: I'll tell you.
CHUCK TODD: --have illegally taken away Crimea?
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: I mean I appreciate you highlighting my book. I take Russia on in my book. And I do believe that Russia has an anti-U.S. view of the world. You have to read Russia's national security strategy. And I'm not even sure what ours is. But I know what Russia's is. And they have a view of the United States that is not in our best interests.
CHUCK TODD: Does Donald Trump understand that?
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Donald Trump clearly understands that. He gets it.
CHUCK TODD: Let me ask you one final thing on this issue of nuclear weapons. Does he believe that you can use nuclear weapons tactically? Because that seems to be where this idea that, "Why can't you use nukes tactically," he was talking about ISIS, for instance, in one of the interviews.
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Right.
CHUCK TODD: You know, why would you take that off the table? Does he believe in a tactical use of them?
LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Yeah. I mean I would say that's really not the issue as much as understanding all of our capabilities and understanding what it is that we bring to bear. And also, this notion about being predictable or unpredictable, I mean we have become the best enemies around the world by continuing to tell our enemies exactly what we're going to do.
In your previous segment, you mentioned a red line. Why do we state any red lines? We just had the Secretary of Defense on the other day, telling the world essentially which towns we were going to conduct an enveloping movement against Mosul. I mean it's just insane. We keep telling people how many troops we're going to send in, where they're going to go. I mean we're the best enemies in the world. Our enemies love when we telegraph what we're doing.