It is now obvious that in the battle for power in the Trump White House, Steve Bannon is winning. In just 10 days we’ve seen that he:
- wrote Trump’s belligerent inaugural address,
- is the author of Trump’s executive orders (with no legal, departmental or congressional review),
- has been given a seat at the table of the National Security Council’s Principals’ Committee – something that has never happened with a White House political operative before.
What most of us know about Bannon is that he is the former director of Breitbart News and has strong anti-globalist, pro-nationalist views with ties to white supremacists and anti-semites. In light of Bannon’s authorship of Trump’s recent executive order banning refugees and immigrants from some Middle Eastern Muslim countries, it is also important to note that he is (like many in Trump’s inner circle) an Islamophobe. Take a look at some excerpts from a speech he gave to a conference inside the Vatican in 2014 where he talks about the secularization of the West.
Now that call converges with something we have to face, and it’s a very unpleasant topic, but we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it…
They have a Twitter account up today, ISIS does, about turning the United States into a “river of blood” if it comes in and tries to defend the city of Baghdad. And trust me, that is going to come to Europe. That is going to come to Central Europe, it’s going to come to Western Europe, it’s going to come to the United Kingdom. And so I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.
Bannon is doing the same thing fascists have done throughout history – use fear as a tool to mobilize nationalism. While it is true that ISIS must be defeated, to assume that they represent the beginning stages of a global war is absurd.
So how does Bannon inspire the kind of fear that would spark the kind of nationalist movements in the white (predominantly Christian) countries of the Norther Hemisphere that dominated the globe for centuries amidst a rising tide of economic expansion in the world of black/brown people? You begin by creating a fear of immigrants across our Southern borders via a confrontation with Mexico and extend that to a fear of Muslim terrorists. That fear drives policies that lay the battle lines for the kind of global war Bannon is predicting, and it becomes a self-fulling prophecy.
When it comes to Trump’s recent executive order on refugees and immigrants, it’s already working.
Jihadist groups on Sunday celebrated the Trump administration’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, saying the new policy validates their claim that the United States is at war with Islam.
Comments posted to pro-Islamic State social media accounts predicted that President Trump’s executive order would persuade American Muslims to side with the extremists. One posting hailed the U.S. president as “the best caller to Islam,” while others predicted that Trump would soon launch a new war in the Middle East.
According to counterterrorism experts, these actions make us LESS safe.
Though cast as measures meant to make the country safe, the Trump administration’s moves during its first week in office are more likely to weaken the counterterrorism defenses the United States has erected over the past 16 years, several current and former U.S. officials said.
Through inflammatory rhetoric and hastily drawn executive orders, the administration has alienated allies, including Iraq, provided propaganda fodder to terrorist networks that frequently portray U.S. involvement in the Middle East as a religious crusade, and endangered critical cooperation from often-hidden U.S. partners — whether the leader of a mosque in an American suburb or the head of a Middle East intelligence service.
Given that projection has been the life-blood of Trump’s campaign and administration, this tweet in response to criticism from Senators McCain and Graham is telling:
…Senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2017
If anything is designed to ignite WWIII, it is the actions of this administration. As Josh Marshall points out:
For all the talk about ‘populism’, what really imbues this White House is nationalism. But not just nationalism in a general sense which can have positive, communitarian aspects. It is a hateful and aggressive nationalism based on zero-sum relationships and a thirst for domination and violence. These are dangerous people.
At the heart of what is dangerous about these people stands Steve Bannon – who seems to be calling the shots right now and is eager to promote a global war with Islam as a rallying cry for white nationalism.