First, his worldview is distinctly threat-based, like most senior military officers. He sees danger and hostility everywhere, and is quick to judge it as well as react aggressively, often with immediate effect. This tendency to listen to the darker angels of his nature served him well in combat, less so in civilian life. It made him highly receptive to the worldview of President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and others who are so resolutely predisposed to look at the world through a dark lens.
Second, his background and role as an intelligence specialist led him to search for levers and keys to influencing others, especially our nation’s opponents. In the Cold War during the early part of his career, he focused on the Soviet Union and watched with fascination and satisfaction as it imploded. He observed the rise of Vladimir Putin and came to understand the emergence of new threats from Moscow. The chance to go and see Putin up close and personal must have been irresistible to him, and — along with the cash — contributed to his decision to sit next to Putin at the infamous Moscow dinner in 2015, a decision I am certain he would happily reverse in retrospect. It also made him a logical candidate for the position of National Security Advisor and the conduit for some level of interaction with Russia during the presidential campaign.
Third, like all active-duty military, he never had an opportunity to make significant amounts of money. Over the 33 years of his service in the Army, he would have earned somewhere around $70,000 annually, averaged out through those decades of service — certainly enough to live on, but hardly a chance to build wealth for his family.