The former and brief National Security Advisor for Donald Trump in early 2017 embraced the idea of a Myanmar-style military coup in the United States. Speaking at a QAnon conference in Dallas, Texas, over the weekend, a flustered attendee asked Flynn: “I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here?” At this point, the crowd erupts in cheer. Flynn then responds with: “no reason. I mean, it should happen here.”
At this point, the crowd again cheers at the idea of a Myanmar-style military coup in the United States to apparently overthrow the democratically elected government of Joe Biden.
The exchange can be seen in the tweet below:
Flynn is now saying out loud what many radicalized Republicans have been dreaming of in their post-election turn to authoritarianism.
Back in February, Rolling Stone Magazine published an article revealing that members of QAnon see the Myanmar coup as an emboldening development.
Rolling Stone continued:
…it was an emboldening development for many believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits the existence of a deep state child trafficking ring made up of Hollywood actors and left-wing politicians. Some prominent influencers within the QAnon community with thousands of followers have promoted the baseless idea that electronic voting companies Smartmatic and Dominion were involved in perpetuating voter fraud in Myanmar, and some have posited that a similar military coup could happen in the United States.
The totally baseless QAnon theory is contingent on Trump retaining power and arresting and eventually executing his enemies. Therefore, in the months following Biden’s election, QAnon believers have been rumbling about the results of the election being fraudulent. Many have been pushing the claim that Trump will return to office, possibly by force of a military coup. And they have been invigorated by watching this exact scenario taking place in the small southeast Asian country.
“The Burmese military has arrested the country’s leaders after credible evidence of widespread voter fraud became impossible to ignore…sounds like the controlled media and Biden admin are scared this might happen here,” one influencer with more than 45,000 subscribers on the encrypted messaging app Telegram wrote. “We will see this headline here soon,” another QAnon believer with more than 50,000 subscribers on Telegram wrote, linking to a tweet from a far-right news website about the arrest of Myanmar’s leaders.
Myanmar joined a troubling rising tide of authoritarianism in some countries around the world when its military arrested the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and imposed a military dictatorship. Myanmar had previously been under a military dictatorship for more than 25 years until 2011 when the country finally elected a civilian government. Since the February coup, the country has been embroiled in a resistance movement and protests against the ongoing military dictatorship.
The last known official numbers put the civilian death toll in Myanmar over 750. As of late April, 3,331 people had been detained by the military. Both numbers are likely much higher now.
This type of violence is exactly what some on the far-right have been calling for in the US, for years.
A CNN article noted how QAnon-Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called for and endorsed violence against Democratic politicians in 2018 and 2019:
In one post, from January 2019, Greene liked a comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In other posts, Greene liked comments about executing FBI agents who, in her eyes, were part of the “deep state” working against Trump.
In one Facebook post from April 2018, Greene wrote conspiratorially about the Iran Deal, one of former President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievements. A commenter asked Greene, “Now do we get to hang them ?? Meaning H & O ???,” referring to Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Greene replied, “Stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off.”
This isn’t the first time Michael Flynn has endorsed military action against US democracy. Shortly after Trump was defeated in the 2020 election, Flynn promoted the idea that Trump should impose martial law and that the military should oversee a new election in swing states.
The Independent reported on Flynn’s comments in December 2020:
There is no way in the world we are going to be able to move forward as a nation,” General Flynn said. “[The president] could immediately, on his order, seize every single one of these machines.
Within the swing states,” he continued, “if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities, and he could place those in states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.
I mean, it’s not unprecedented. These people are out there talking about martial law like it’s something that we’ve never done. Martial law has been instituted 64 times.
Just weeks after Flynn’s comments, far-right terrorist groups such as the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and other groups, coordinated to attack the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. So far, a total of 31 members of far-right terrorist groups, including 16 members of the Oath Keepers, have been charged with conspiracy to invade the US Capitol and disrupt the proceedings to certify the results of the 2020 election.
The urgency and danger of the moment American democracy faces cannot be overstated. We are in a democratic emergency and an emergency of this type requires bold and swift action by law enforcement agencies and it requires bold and swift political action to neutralize and crush any and all threats to our democratic republic.
We must do everything we can to protect our democracy. Make no mistake, if the far-right is not neutralized now, it will regroup and attempt another January 6th. The Capitol Insurrection was a trial run for them and it would be a great error for everyone who believes in democracy and peace to dismiss the far-right’s aspirations as implausible.
Image Credit: East Asia Forum