Steve Bannon may have come off as indestructible. But with an unpredictable president, anything’s possible.
Unpredictable and ignorant presidents are more fun when they are in power in other countries and not our own. For those inclined to palace intrigue, Steve Bannon’s removal from the national security council could mean any number of things – the triumph of Jared Kushner’s business wing over Bannon’s ethno-nationalist wing, the consolidation of power by national security adviser HR McMaster, President Trump being mad about something on Twitter – but the most absurd explanation is what’s already being touted in the media as a “shift towards normalcy.”
Every American President organizes their councils differently, according to their personal preferences. For example, in the George W Bush White House, Colin Powell had a seat on the NSC but no actual power. In the Nixon White House, the NSC consisted essentially of just Henry Kissinger. We are talking of the administrations that gave us the invasion of Iraq and the bombing of Cambodia, so some skepticism is required when we talk about more “normal” in the NSC. When you consider Trump’s fondness for conspiracy theories and picking fights with countries such as Germany and Australia for no reason, Bannon was nothing if not a perfect fit.
Bannon’s chief qualification for any of his positions is running a website that publishes stories such as “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy.” His rival for the coveted post of the president’s best man is Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose chief qualification is marrying well. Both figures have ambiguous official roles, yet they enjoy tremendous power.
McMaster, a general, veteran and counterinsurgency egghead, may be a more conventional national security adviser. But he also disagrees with the president on virtually everything. So we will see if he sticks around longer than his predecessor. In the meantime Jared Kushner is the man in charge.
So, the normalcy we are returning to is a nepotistic government where official titles mean little and true power comes from being in the favor of the president. US foreign policy is run not out of the State Department but by the Trump dynasty. It’s like in developing countries where the family rules everything.
Rulers running their countries as private fiefdoms for family enrichment has been the norm for much of human history. And now it’s the new normal in the USA.
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