We know that our President doesn't read books. He has people for that. Donald Trump leaves that to his chief strategist, Steve Bannon. Given the fact that Bannon is the innermost member of President Trump's inner circle and will have a permanent seat on the National Security Council, it’s worth taking a look at the books at his bedside.
According to Time magazine, Bannon's Bible is a book called The Fourth Turning. That means Bannon likes the theory that human history moves in 80 to 100-year cycles, each one climaxing in a violent cataclysm that destroys the old order and replaces it with something new. The US had three such upheavals: the revolutionary war that ended in 1783, the civil war of the 1860s and the Second World War of the 1940s.
The book claims that America is on the brink of another war.
But, that's not the biggest of our problems. What we should be worried about is that war on an epic scale is not a prospect feared by Bannon, but rather one he relishes. In fact, “we’re at war” is a favorite Bannon slogan, whether he’s talking about the struggle against jihadism or the clash with China.
Take note that Bannon is an advocate of the “shock event”, this coming from a man who described himself as a “Leninist”, because “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down.”
Maybe this lust for bloodshed explains why Bannon was unperturbed by the chaos and loathing unleashed by the refugee ban, which he pushed through almost singlehandedly, in consultation only with President Trump.
People are beginning to get alarmed. The New Yorker offers a report on escalating demands among super-rich for apocalypse-proof boltholes, with particular interest in farms in New Zealand as a “back-up”.
You could argue that this is a somewhat hysterical way of looking at things, but think again. Is war really impossible?
Trump has begun hacking away at key pillars of the western alliance. In his phone call with Australian Prime Minister he treated the country as if it were dirt on his shoe. It shows the extent to which this US President is ready to “bring everything crashing down”. Trump sees multilateral cooperation as a limp-wristed strategy for losers and damns the arrangements that previously held the world together. Steve Bannon is not destroying the old post-1945 order for the sake of a fairer, more equal world. On the contrary, he appears to be dreaming of a bloody war out of which a new, even more dominant America will emerge.
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