Steve Bannon (r), a man whose idea of American “greatness” entails destroying perceived enemies through global war has the ear of the president
Though the vast attention given to the new administration so far has been concerned with attacks on civil liberties, especially as it relates to immigration and Middle-east refugees, there is another area that is quickly building up a head of steam that will put this country in greater danger that entails the loosening of the dogs of war.
The major dog on the Prez’s team is Steve Bannon. Bannon is more familiar to us through his chilling, end-time framed exhortations on Breitbart radio and who has been accused by some as supportive of the white supremacist movement in this country. But Bannon has also been a hostile critic of the Chinese and Islam for years now and in his new role as a top member of the National Security Council, his influence to wage war on these two groups has reached critical mass.
Bannon served as a naval officer for 7 years from the late ’70’s to the early 80’s, first on a destroyer as a Surface War Officer in the Pacific then ending his short career at a desk job with the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) at the Pentagon. The CNO “is an administrative position based in the Pentagon”. He later earned a master’s degree in national-security studies from Georgetown, followed by an M.B.A. from Harvard. It seems that though he has an interests in foreign policy Bannon’s knowledge in this area is not grounded in years of experiences that target issues abroad. And yet now he has the ear of the man who controls the nuclear codes.
In one of those Breitbart radio shows with the Heritage Foundation’s Lee Edwards back in March, 2016 Bannon, stated that “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years. There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face – and you understand how important face is – and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”
In a recent TIME article by David Von Drehle, author Neil Howe discussed how Bannon, in commiserating on a film with him about Howe and William Strauss’ book, The Fourth Turning, “noted repeatedly on his radio show that ‘we’re at war’ with radical jihadis in places around the world. This is ‘a global existential war’ that likely will become ‘a major shooting war in the Middle East again.’ War with China may also be looming, he has said. This conviction is central to the Breitbart mission, he explained in November 2015: ‘Our big belief, one of our central organizing principles at the site, is that we’re at war.’” Former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro told TIME last year, “He regularly abuses people. He sees everything as a war. Every time he feels crossed, he makes it his business to destroy his opponent.”
Part of Bannon’s compelling interest in war likely stems from his understanding of Strauss and Howe’s historical theory laid out in their two books, Generations and The Fourth Turning. Historian David Kaiser lays out this theory in his recent TIME article on Bannon and his affinity for the “birth of a new political order” suggested in The Fourth Turning.
Looking at the whole sweep of American history, Strauss and Howe realized that a great crisis, involving the death of an old order and the birth of a new one, had occurred every 80 years at least since the 18th century. These crises included the period of the American Revolution and the Constitution (1774-1794), the Civil War (about 1860-1868), and the Depression and the Second World War (1929-1945). Doing the math, they predicted a fourth great crisis—or “fourth turning”—sometime in the first 15 years of the 21st century.
The fact that each “turning” required a military conflict to succeed is what has Bannon convinced that the 4th turning he feels we are now experiencing will also require war of some kind. And to his view he sees this occurring with Islam and the Chinese
Despite the fact that China clearly has more claim to areas in the South China Sea than the U.S., Bannon wants to portray their actions through his lens of “global existential war” as an aggressive threat to our national security. He ignores the fact that the U.S. itself already has a strong military presence in that area in the Philippines, Japan and South Korea but somehow doesn’t seem to grasp how threatening the Chinese might see this.
If they were militarily located in similar proximity to the U.S. shoreline we would obviously feel threatened and want to strengthen our perimeter defenses. Could it be that China is merely reacting defensively rather than aggressively because of the U.S.’s global military hegemony? Of course it could.
Then there is Bannon’s hand in what some are calling Trump’s central doctrine with the “war on Islam.” His contempt for Islam was open for public display in a May, 25th 2016 radio show with Benjamin Harnwell. Harnwell is “director of the Rome-based Dignitatis Humanae Institute, founded to help Christian politicians defend the faith in the public square.”
In that program Bannon refers to Islam as “the most radical” religion in the world, obviously seeing the actions of bands of extremists as representative of the whole. Again, Bannon makes a comment about others that he clearly doesn’t see how it can be turned on him and his conservative Christian views.
Christian evangelicals have inundated areas within or in close proximity to major Muslim centers around the world. Link these efforts of Christian proselytizing with a strong U.S. military presence in and around the Middle-east and it’s not hard to fathom why so-called “militants” within Islam are hostile toward the Christian-West. Bannon and his alt-right contingent ARE the other side of the coin of religious extremism. An extremism that relies on fear to get it’s message spread more widely.
Sitting next to the most powerful leader in the free-world who is easily riled by the slightest criticism is a man who sees himself as an avenger for Christendom. Bannon once commented on another radio shows of his that “The one thing the Chinese fear more than America … they fear Christianity more than anything.” To Bannon the spread of Christianity is non-threatening. Too many Muslims around the world, not so much.
Add to this specter of war National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s recent shot across the bow following Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests, one can then hear the war drums start to become more pronounced. Flynn, himself an extreme anti-Islamist, and most others in this new administration view the Iran deal made under Obama as a wrong-headed move and DJT* himself once said that “he might rip it up, though he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have since backtracked on the pledge.”
Flynn would have us believe that Iran’s recent launch of ballistic missiles is “in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.” A closer look shows it’s not. The military hawks now gaining assent in Washington under this new administration would like to use any further action by Iran they deem “destabilizing behavior” to advance their intent to crush Iran. A major Middle east war would itself destabilize further a region of the world that remains highly volatile after years of intervention by the U.S.
Such bluster is often cheered on by nationalistic fervor until the consequences of such action sets in. Our ability to win the unconditional surrender of conventional armies in WWII is still viewed as the ideal by Bannon, Flynn and others now in the Beltway. But such an ideal seems highly unlikely with the balance of nuclear power no longer the sole possession of America and where small guerrilla remnants continue to effectively challenge our massive military might.
Such notions of total victory are simply archaic and thus highly dangerous. The sense of “right” strengthened the allies in their fight against fascism in WWII because they were the victims of aggression. But we become the aggressors under current strategies of preemption. As a result, the total backing by the American public and our allies will be largely absent and the will to win could be undermined. We are now seen as the expansionist empire that Germany and Japan were in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
It is this rigid interpretation of Bannon’s toward China and Islam that could lead Trump to elevate the threat of war. With them in control of the message it would take little persuasion for many Americans to be convinced that preeminent strikes across the Pacific and Atlantic are necessary to preserve our way of life. It will be our short-termed memory of this tactic and its failure in Iraq that will have us knee-deep in confrontations that gain nothing more than massive losses of human life and further destruction of civil society and environmental habitats that comes from a nuclear holocaust.
Bannon would have the White House, and by default most of the American public, to view Chinese and militant Islamic reactions to our imperialists maneuvers and religious proselytizing around the globe as hostile threats to our national security. Draped in the cloak of nationalistic pride and patriotism, the war machine is thus allowed to crank up and threaten most of humanity. Unless formidable resistance steps up and challenges these alarmist views the next generation will face conditions far more grave than what they would have with a world that is already suffering under conditions of man-made global warming.
Ideas for this piece were in part derived from the Feb 1, 2017 Guardian article by Benjamin Hass, “
For more on Steve Bannon read TIME’s “Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?”
*DJT = Donald J. Trump. Will no longer being using the “Trump” name since this just excites the ego of the phony man-of-the-people currently occupying the Oval office