President Bannon: “..the Beginning of a Brutal and Bloody Conflict..”
February 5, 2017
Above, finally tracked down the clip that’s been rocketing around Twitter for the last few days. Steve Bannon in a talk via Skype to a Conservative group at the Vatican, 2014.
His vision is slightly disturbing.
And we’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.
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.
If you look at what’s happening in ISIS, which is the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant, that is now currently forming the caliphate that is having a military drive on Baghdad, if you look at the sophistication of which they’ve taken the tools of capitalism. If you look at what they’ve done with Twitter and Facebook and modern ways to fundraise, and to use crowdsourcing to fund, besides all the access to weapons, over the last couple days they have had a radical program of taking kids and trying to turn them into bombers. They have driven 50,000 Christians out of a town near the Kurdish border. We have video that we’re putting up later today on Breitbart where they’ve took 50 hostages and thrown them off a cliff in Iraq.
That war is expanding and it’s metastasizing to sub-Saharan Africa. We have Boko Haram and other groups that will eventually partner with ISIS in this global war, and it is, unfortunately, something that we’re going to have to face, and we’re going to have to face very quickly.
So I think the discussion of, should we put a cap on wealth creation and distribution? It’s something that should be at the heart of every Christian that is a capitalist — “What is the purpose of whatever I’m doing with this wealth? What is the purpose of what I’m doing with the ability that God has given us, that divine providence has given us to actually be a creator of jobs and a creator of wealth?”
I think it really behooves all of us to really take a hard look and make sure that we are reinvesting that back into positive things. But also to make sure that we understand that we’re at the very beginning stages of a global conflict, and if we do not bind together as partners with others in other countries that this conflict is only going to metastasize.
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.
It’s an inconceivably scary thought that the Trump administration is simply winging it, breakneck, disrupting and detonating and taking America apart – and all of it without a plan.
But here’s the even scarier possibility – that there is, in fact, a plan.
A plan which would dramatically concentrate and expand Donald Trump’s power, inflame and mobilize his base, whip up and and leverage racism, Islamophobia and, at a later stage, if needed, anti-Semitism, in order to slough all shortcomings onto scapegoats.
He needs a war.
He needs a war to reconcile the contradictions of a populist and extravagantly self-contradictory election campaign, in which he vowed to rebuild the military to historic levels while also slashing government spending. He needs the kind of war that could make good his vows to revive heavy industrial manufacturing and the mining of “beautiful coal.”
A war would free him to green-light mammoth corporate monopolies, and to provide the ultimate pretext, the emergency imperative, for abrogating on a massive scale the most basic of constitutional guarantees to individual freedoms – gun ownership excepted.
A war would make it clear that it’s not mass casualty shootings by loner white males that makes Americans unsafe. It is, rather, the specter of the swarthy Muslim we have never met, which should keep us up at night – even if that Muslim is in actual life a saint among physicians or a decorated former brother-in-arms of U.S. troops overseas.
Donald Trump needs a war. But not just any war. He needs just the right global non-Christian, all-powerful, all-frightening, non-white, non-negotiable enemy.
He needs a Holy War.
And he needs a doomsday weapon he can rely on. As it happens, he already has one. It’s called Steve Bannon. And Steve Bannon, ideologue, impresario, scorcher of Republican earth, has been talking Holy War for years.
In a speech to a Christian conference held in the Vatican in the summer of 2014, Bannon declared that “we’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.”
At the time, Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs banker, headed the far-right, white nationalist-friendly Breitbart News, and was also a producer and director of films.
“We’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism,” he said.
National security analyst Robert Baer said Tuesday that the Bannon speech sounded “like preaching for the First Crusade.”
During the 1990s, two amateur historians, Neil Howe and the late William Strauss, developed a new theory of American history in two books, Generations: the History of America’s Future (1991), and The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy (1997). They identified an 80-year cycle in American history, punctuated by great crises that destroyed an old order and created a new one.
Though their theory is not widely taught in colleges or discussed in the media, Strauss and Howe may well play a major role in Donald Trump’s administration. Stephen Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News who has been appointed Trump’s chief strategist in the White House, is very familiar with Strauss and Howe’s theory of crisis, and has been thinking about how to use it to achieve particular goals for quite a while. I know this because Bannon interviewed both Neil Howe and myself in 2009 while he was making a documentary film about the ongoing financial crisis. The film, called Generation Zero, discussed those ideas in some detail.
Bannon focused on the key aspect of their theory, the idea that every 80 years American history has been marked by a crisis, or “fourth turning,” that destroyed an old order and created a new one: The great crises identified by Strauss and Howe included the era of the American Revolution and the Constitution (1774-1794); the Civil War and its immediate aftermath (1860-68); and the Depression and the Second World War (1929-45). Doing the math, they predicted another great crisis sometime in the first 15 years of the 21st century.
Bannon had clearly thought a long time both about the domestic potential and the foreign policy implications of Strauss and Howe. More than once during our interview, he pointed out that each of the three preceding crises had involved a great war, and those conflicts had increased in scope from the American Revolution through the Civil War to the Second World War. He expected a new and even bigger war as part of the current crisis, and he did not seem at all fazed by the prospect.
The answer is to be found in a speech Bannon delivered in New York City to an outdoor rally to the New York Tea Party on April 15, 2010. Here he is angry, and inflames the rowdy crowd with his attacks on the “world financial system.” Bannon attributes the financial collapse to “the financial elites and the American political class.” They took care of themselves, he tells the crowd, and let everyone else suffer, as government took over the financial industry, the auto industry and the health system. He refers to the “ticking time bomb” of mortgage defaults, and he calls the situation an “existential threat” to the nation, a “true crisis” that threatens the nation’s sovereignty.
President Trump on Friday moved to chisel away at the Obama administration’s legacy on financial regulation, announcing steps to revisit the rules enacted after the 2008 financial crisis and to back away from a measure intended to protect consumers from bad investment advice.
After a White House meeting with executives from Wall Street, Mr. Trump signed a directive aimed at the Dodd-Frank Act, crafted by the Obama administration and passed by Congress in response to the 2008 meltdown. He also signed a memorandum that paves the way for reversing a policy, known as the fiduciary rule, that requires brokers to act in a client’s best interest, rather than seek the highest profits for themselves, when providing retirement advice.
Back to Daily Beast:
“Our beloved country is an addict,” he says, led by the “pushers on Wall Street.” Then he holds up a copy of The New York Times which he calls the paper “of the liberal elite,” while he describes The New York Post as the paper of the people. The Tea Party, Bannon says, are the people who fight our wars, pay our taxes, work in civic organizations—“the beating heart of the greatest nation on earth.”
It is the end of his speech, however, that is most important. After blasting Anderson Cooper and CNN, he concludes with words that somehow have escaped all the commentators who have been writing on Bannon:
“It doesn’t take a weatherman to see which way the wind blows, and the winds blow off the high plains of this country, through the prairie and lights a fire that will burn all the way to Washington in November.”
Although his audience may not have gotten the reference, he was saying that he and the Tea Party are revolutionaries who want to bring down the system. Bannon took the phrase from a verse of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, which was used by the self-proclaimed revolutionary young people in the late ’60s and ’70s who created first the Weathermen, and then the Weather Underground terrorist group from the detritus of Students for a Democratic Society. Their publication in which they spread their ideas was named Prairie Fire, and four years before he spoke, the Weather Underground’s leaders—Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and Jeff Jones published their writings for a new generation, in the book Sing a Battle Song, a compendium of the group’s revolutionary arguments.