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Bannon And Trump Have Quietly Installed An Alt-National Security Council Operating Inside The White House

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Bannon And Trump Have Quietly Installed An Alt-National Security Council Operating Inside The White House

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Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Less than a month after much-admired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster took over from Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser, Trump’s alter-ego Steve Bannon appears to be more in control of U.S. foreign policy than ever.

There is little sign McMaster will be able to restore traditional U.S. foreign policy commitments to NATO and the European Union, and every indication that Bannon’s shadowy Strategic Initiatives Group, denounced by two national security experts as “dangerous hypocrisy,” is driving U.S. policy.

McMaster, a lieutenant general with a reputation as an intellectual, was perhaps the last-gasp hope of Washington’s foreign policy professionals against the radical ambitions of the Trump administration. He was seen as a man who could speak unpopular truths to Trump and block Bannon’s improvisations while restoring a degree of continuity to U.S. foreign policy under Obama and Bush.

Losing Ground

No sooner had Flynn been fired over undisclosed meetings with a Russian diplomat, it was reported that McMaster would impose order on Flynn’s chaotic NSC, purging ideologues and removing Bannon from the National Security Council as urged by Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Given the gravity of the issues the NSC deals with, it is vital that that body not be politicized, and Bannon’s presence as a member of that body politicizes it instantly,” Mullen said.

McMaster urged Trump not to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” arguing, along with virtually every other U.S. military leader, that the phrase only alienates friendly Muslims and increases the risk to U.S. personnel stationed in Islamic countries without providing any military or political advantages.

McMaster’s influence has been fading ever since. There would be no “purge” at NSC, an unnamed senior White House official told Foreign Policy. “Key NSC officials focused on the Middle East and other vital areas will keep their positions in the near term,” the official said. Bannon remains on the NSC’s Principals Committee, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is only a part-time participant.

Trump pointedly ignored McMaster’s advice and denounced “radical Islamic terrorism” in his address to the Congress, much to the satisfaction of deputy national security adviser Sebastian Gorka. A lightly credentialed acolyte of Bannon, Gorka seems to have more influence with Trump than McMaster, a decorated lieutenant general.

While Colin Kahl, former national security adviser to Vice-President Joe Biden, recently expressed hope that an “axis of adults” can take control of Trump’s foreign policy, all indications are that the “axis of ideologues,” led by Bannon and Gorka, are ascendant.

What SIG does

The Strategic Initiatives Group is emerging as Bannon’s conduit for aiding the populist right in Europe. Described as a “White House think tank,” SIG is run by Chris Liddell, formerly chief financial officer at a Hollywood talent agency. The group’s mission is described as supporting Trump administration collaboration with “private forums.”

In practice, that seems to mean Liddell will assist in marketing the message of the chauvinist European right.

Last week, Gorka signaled the ascendant ideology by endorsing a white nationalist opus by Georgetown University professor Joshua Mitchell in the debut issue of a policy journal called American Affairs.

For globalists, Mitchell writes, “political justice involved material growth made possible by global management and the identity debt-points that global elites dispensed to this or that oppressed ‘identity’ group as a consequence of past infractions or of the irredeemable fault of others—typically (the imaginary category of) White People.”

“The dark Protestant machinations about human freedom and pride that drove President Bush and President Obama, respectively, make no appearance in the thinking of Trump,” Mitchell writes. “He will ask of foreign nations, simply, are they going to be allies or not; and will America be able to win with or without them?” In other words, Europeans who favor economic integration, ethnic pluralism and military deterrence of Russia are no longer regarded as U.S. allies.

“Trump has made clear that he’s at best indifferent, if not openly hostile to the modern European project, and Bannon has indicated that anti-E.U. populists have a friend in the White House,” writes American conservative James Kirchick in the German daily, FAZ.

Bannon approved of the visit of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen to Trump Tower in January. He published Dutch anti-immigration leader Geert Wilders in Breitbart News. And now he seems to be targeting Angela Merkel, the pro-immigration German prime minister who has emerged as the de facto leader of Europe, if not the free world. Merkel, who faces elections this fall, certainly sees Bannon’s media strategy as a threat.

“We shouldn’t underestimate what’s happening on the internet,” Merkel said in a speech to the German parliament last week. “Opinions today are formed differently than 25 years ago. Fake pages, bots, and trolls can distort views.”

Not coincidentally, Breitbart.com is said to be opening a Berlin bureau later this year.

While Bannon often talks in apocalyptic terms about war between the Christian West and Islam, his initial moves in the National Security Council are more political than militaristic. Through SIG, Bannon seeks to midwife a more nationalist and Christian Europe, as a prelude to escalating a “clash of civilizations” war against Islam.

In this geopolitical gambit, Bannon and company are setting the course, while McMaster and the “adults” of the Washington policy elite look increasingly irrelevant.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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14 Comments

  1. Thoughtopsy March 15, 2017

    Oh goody…
    The KKK are in charge of America’s foreign policy.

    Wow, America….

    Just.
    Wow.

    Reply
    1. Eleanore Whitaker March 16, 2017

      You can count on one thing. Trump will do whatever he damn well pleases and not one single Hick Politician has the balls to stand up top him. You know why. It was the Republican Party who knew Trump used the Russians to rig this election. Maybe, Trump himself didn’t engage Russian hackers, but you can be sure the Axis of Evil: Conway, Spicer and Bannon were ALL in on it and arranged it.

      Reply
      1. stcroixcarp March 16, 2017

        These are the incarnation of evil.

        Reply
      2. dpaano March 21, 2017

        Personally, I don’t think Spicer OR Conway are that intelligent. I think they’re just going along for the ride and enjoying what “power” they THINK they have! They are all liars……45 lies to them and it’s their job to make everyone believe the lies! It amazes me that they aren’t aware of just how stupid they actually are!

        Reply
        1. Eleanore Whitaker March 22, 2017

          If it is true Conway is a lawyer, it only serves as greater proof of the kind of mobster lawyers Trump has always surrounded himself with.

          His team of lawyers would make John Gotti salivate. Once you start with his top lawyer, Cohen and go down the list to Conway, you see the level of legal expertise these half wits have.

          Most of them are more hungry for a Trump dollar than they are to obey the law. Their main job is to ALWAYS get Trump out of hot water legally. I just hope he pays them well.

          Reply
    2. dpaano March 21, 2017

      I agree….it’s scary, isn’t it?

      Reply
  2. FireBaron March 15, 2017

    All we can do is hope that at least one of Bannon’s chickens comes home to roost and he is ousted from his positions of power.

    Reply
    1. stcroixcarp March 16, 2017

      I hope the Bannon chickens are actually vultures, coming home to feed on their master.

      Reply
  3. Eleanore Whitaker March 16, 2017

    The Republican Party better hope and pray these are not the paid mercenary thugs Trump has kept around him since the first days his ego blew up like a balloon. Most anyone in the Metro area remembers his beefy thugs, usually 6 to 8 of them acting like he was already a president 3 decades ago. When they once tried to muscle him into the top Manhattan hot spots, they got shown the door.

    These guys may be dressed in the “Donald J. Trump Collection” suits made in Mexico as all of the labels on these suits state, but they are the kind of men Hitler surrounded himself with.

    I am sure the Republicans are thrilled that Donald J. Trump, Pretender to the Presidency is creating an “internal” government he can control.

    But, they should recall that in the weeks just prior to his swearing in, he did tell the public he would “use my own security.” Well? You got what you asked for.

    Reply
  4. CPANY March 16, 2017

    Great picture. Everybody is in business suits while Bannon is dressed all in black, like some evil presence.

    The picture reminds me of the photographs of Martin Bormann and Hitler.

    Reply
    1. dpaano March 21, 2017

      And who is he looking at over their shoulder? He looks more like a mafia “enforcer” than he does an advisor! I wonder if he has a side arm under that jacket!

      Reply
  5. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 16, 2017

    I suppose I’m going to have to do a little more background reading on Bannon’s early life, and how his background led him to accept and vigorously promote racialist and nationalist ideas with such a singular focus. Is there some past psychological trauma involved, or the confluence of seeming disparate but underlying connections that have led Steve to pursue the path he’s been on for a number of years now??
    Of what benefit is it to strive with such devotion to promote nationalism and racialism, both of which are clearly dead-end paths, and grossly out of place in the 21st Century, as they were at the turn of the 20th Century?

    Reply
    1. dpaano March 21, 2017

      Maybe Bannon got dropped on his head as a baby…..do you think we should drop him off the White House roof to see if it knocks any sense BACK into his empty head!?? Just a suggestion…

      Reply
  6. dpaano March 21, 2017

    Both 45 and his puppet-master, Bannon, have both said they want to get rid of the “deep government” in Washington, D.C. Apparently, they merely want to replace it with their OWN deep government run by Bannon and his alt. right cohorts! This does NOT bode well for this country, and I only wish 45’s followers were informed enough to understand what’s going on behind their backs!

    Reply

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