fred fleitz
Fred Fleitz, the anti-Muslim senior vice-president of an Islamaphobic think tank and now NSC chief of staff. Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Well, lookee here:

I recommend approaching the work of Nafeez Ahmed with some skepticism, but I do have to give him credit for the comprehensiveness with which his crowdsourced INSURGE Intelligence group investigated Vladimir Putin’s ties to Europe’s far-right and neo-Nazi political parties. There’s an absolute correspondence between those who Putin favors and the parties and figures that got chummy with the Trump campaign. In addition to Marine Le Pen who showed up at Trump Tower in January 2017 to raise money with fascist fixer George “Guido” Lombardi, there’s Nigel Farage of Britain’s UKIP party, who dined with Steve Bannon in the White House in late February 2017 before meeting in early March with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. There’s Viktor Orbán in Hungary who was paid special attention during the campaign by Trump associates Carter Page and J.D. Gordon. There’s the Austrian Freedom Party that boasted of meeting with Michael Flynn. I think when Mr. Ahmed makes the following statement he is on solid footing.

In the last few years, far-right parties in Europe with entrenched Nazi heritage, sympathies and affiliations have effectively infiltrated the EU system to destroy it.

Winning seats in the European elections, while joining and forming political coalitions in the European Parliament, they have ramped up efforts to coordinate their activities with a view to exploit EU resources and funding. Though not always successful, these efforts have, nevertheless, boosted their credibility and appeal, both at home and on the international stage, contributing to significant electoral achievements in domestic elections.

Less known, however, is how deep these networks of coordination go, and the myriad of contradictory extremist and geopolitical interests behind them.

The networks of far-right coordination stretch across the Atlantic, from the United States, to the UK, to Europe, and to Russia. But of most concern is that embedded within these networks are core, competing neo-Nazi and white nationalist forces, eager to use international connections to tactically rebrand themselves and strategically expand their influence.

Ironically, two mainstream political forces experiencing the push and pull of these trans-Atlantic networks are the Republican Party in the US, and Eurasian expansionists in the Russian Kremlin. Many of the far-right groups that now have potential access and influence over Republicans have also been courted by President Putin and groups close to the Kremlin, as part of a Russian strategy to weaken the European Union and undermine NATO.

To get a sense of what it means that Fred Fleitz has been chosen as the National Security Council’s chief of staff, you need to understand both the role of Frank Gaffney and his Center for Security Policy in the international neo-Nazi movement and the way that movement is seamlessly connected to and promoted by Vladimir Putin.  While I cannot endorse everything Mr. Ahmed alleges and recommend double checking his sources and how he treats them, I do think his A Fourth Reich is rising across Europe — with ties to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin is an excellent place to start your journey. It connects a lot of dots that need connecting, and it contains a lot of documentation that you can assess for yourself.

I also recommend you look at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s profile of the Center for Security Policy. The SPLC focuses primarily on the domestic role of the Center for Security Policy and on their Islamophobia, and certainly having a raving Islamophobe as NSC chief of staff has alarming national security ramifications and risks all on its own.

But it’s the way this movement has melded with Putin’s foreign policy objectives that is most urgent, and it’s admittedly confusing because Gaffney built his reputation in the 1980s as an anti-Soviet, anti-Russia hawk. Even today, he is not known for speaking favorably of Russia or Vladimir Putin, which is why it’s essential to explore the absolute confluence of interests that have developed between Gaffney’s promotion of the European far right and Putin’s promotion of the same neo-Nazi parties and politicians.

Correction: an earlier version of this post ran under the headline “Bolton Taps Neo-Nazi as National Security Council Chief of Staff.” While there are links between the Center for Security Policy and neo-Nazi organizations in Europe, it was wrong to imply that there is evidence that Fred Fleitz is personally a neo-Nazi. We regret the mistake. 

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at