Note: The opinions and comments stated in the following article, and views expressed by any contributor to In Homeland Security, do not represent the views of American Military University, American Public University System, its management or employees.
By Dr. Monique M. Maldonado
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Steve Bannon’s appointment as assistant to the President and White House chief strategist gives him direct access to President Trump and the entire administration. Bannon is also a key member of the National Security Council, the President’s primary body of expertise on national security and foreign policy affairs. As such, there is trouble looming.
The NSC is comprised of cabinet-level officials and leaders of the intelligence community. The NSC also works closely with national security agencies of U.S. allies and other friendly countries.
Bannon’s controversial appointment prompted national outrage because he was recently executive chairman of Breitbart News, a conservative website known for “alt-right” ideologies and contentious positions. In addition, Bannon has never held elected office, which made his NSC appointment a dangerous political move by the Trump administration.
In 2015, Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek dubbed Bannon the most dangerous political operative in America.
Bannon’s Future May Have Been Bright as Navy Officer
Bannon served in the United States Navy for seven years as a surface warfare officer. Perhaps his most prestigious position was as special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations at the Department of Defense. Naval records suggest Bannon had a bright military future and would have excelled, had he continued to serve. He left the Navy in 1983 and joined Goldman Sachs before establishing his own investment firm, Bannon & Company. He became executive chairman of Breitbart News in 2012.
His brief military career shaped his views in business and the media. But it is unlikely that his military career was enough to warrant his appointment to the NSC. Bannon’s appointment stunned many people in Washington who questioned his qualifications, especially because he had no background in national security.
His military experience has been cited as justification for his NSC position. But are those seven years in the Navy enough for an appointment to a highly sensitive position that directly affects American national security?
Trump Adds Bannon to NSC and Reduces Roles of Key Intelligence Officials
On January 29, 2017, President Trump reorganized the NSC by adding Bannon and reducing the roles of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of National Intelligence. Trump’s Presidential Memorandum announced the changes, saying the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would attend NSC sessions “where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.”
Limiting the power of highly regarded and experienced officials such as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of National Intelligence was one of the most dangerous moves Trump has made within his first 100 days in office.
Bannon’s position in the NSC is not only a threat to national security, but it will also affect the current relationships with U.S. international alliances and security partners. As an NSC member, Bannon will jeopardize U.S. foreign policies and initiatives.
Bannon’s lack of national security experience is a concern. His connection to white supremacy and racism is also troubling. His controversial, anti-establishment statements make him an enigma within the White House. Bannon’s extreme nationalistic stance (which he claims is not white nationalism) and his anti-establishment pronouncements have a significant impact on national security.
Some Republicans View Bannon as ‘A Ticking Bomb’ Because of Past Statements
Bannon is viewed by even some Republicans as a ticking time bomb with a vendetta against the Senate, particularly the Republican Party.
In 2010, The Atlantic published the transcript of a recorded interview with Bannon in which he targeted Republican leaders, according to Nathaniel Meyersohn of BuzzFeed. He called for supporters to “b***h-slap the Republican Party.” Bannon also supported the 2013 government shutdown.
As the White House’s chief strategist, Bannon is a threat to the American people. He also is a known antagonist of the media and a radical Republican.
Although he denies the charges, Bannon’s own words have belied his denials. His approval of offensive and antagonistic headlines makes him no better than the words published.
His far-right ideologies are a danger to the ideals for which America stands. It is not possible to have someone like Bannon in office, when his hostile manner and extremist views can ultimately influence important decision-making within the White House.
The Trump administration can generate unrealistic pronouncements to the press to justify Bannon’s demeanor and NSC position, but they are just an attempt to gloss over what Bannon really is: a threat.