Thursday, 6 April 2017

Steve Bannon removed from National Security Council

Bannon Removed From Trump'sNational Security Council

5 April, 2017

In what the biggest shake-up at the White House since Mike Flynn resigned in February, moments ago Bloomberg reported that President Trump has reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon as well as downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, while elevating national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, who will again be "regular attendees" of the NSC’s principals committee.

According to Reuters, Bannon's removal from the NSC was seen as a boost to national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who officials said has struggled to work together with Bannon.
Wednesday’s change means Mr. Bannon is no longer part of the NSC. He is still permitted to attend such meetings but won’t automatically be invited to each one.
The WSJ adds that "the decision to boot Bannon was made by Trump’s new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster" while another senior administration official said Mr. Trump “signed off on all the changes.”
Bannon said in a statement: Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration. I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function.”
Additionally, the Joint Chiefs chairman and intelligence director are having their roles on the principals committee restored, the report said.
Bloomberg adds that Susan Rice's successor, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, was given responsibility for setting the agenda for meetings of the NSC or the Homeland Security Council, and was authorized to delegate that authority to Bossert, at his discretion, according to the filing.
A White House official said that Bannon was placed on the committee in part to monitor Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and attended just one meeting. He’s no longer needed with McMaster in charge of the council, the official said.
Steve was put there as a check on [Mike] Flynn,” a second official told the WSJ, referring to the former national security adviser who was forced to resign in February over undisclosed contacts with Russia. With Gen. McMaster now in charge, “there was no longer a need [for Bannon] because they share the same views,” the official said. “The idea initially was to make sure Flynn implemented the vision they had talked about,” the official said.
Said otherwise, perhaps Bannon - and Trump - simply saw no need him being on the committee any longer with Flynn gone; alternatively this could merely be spin.
The memorandum also makes the director of the Central Intelligence Agency a permanent member of the principals committee and restores the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence as permanent members after they were initially downgraded from that status.
As a reminder, back in January, in the first of many unexpected shakeups, Bannon was elevated to a position on the NSC principals committee. The move drew criticism from some members of Congress and Washington’s foreign policy establishment. Republicans and Democrats questioned whether Mr. Bannon’s ddition would politicize the White House’s national-security decisions.
The WSJ adds that White House officials had said if Mr. McMaster wanted to change Mr. Bannon’s status, he had the authority to do so.The senior administration official said Mr. Bannon had worked with Mr. McMaster to implement changes in the NSC, and now that they were well underway, he could step aside

Steve Bannon demoted–Chinese President coming to Florida. Coincidence?

5 April, 2017

Things are rarely what they appear to be in Washington.

Tomorrow Donald Trump will host his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at Mar-A-Lago. Today it was announced that Trump’s Presidential adviser Steve Bannon will no longer have a seat on the National Security Council.

Are these two stories related? They may be.

Steve Bannon’s placement as an attendee of National Security Council meetings was always controversial. Bannon came from the world of journalism, entertainment and business and is something of a self-styled conservative philosopher. A position on the National Security Council is typically reserved for members of the defence and intelligence community; in other words big deep state, big military industrial complex.

Trump’s initial decision to place Bannon in National Security Council meetings was indeed a brave move. Like Michael Flynn, Bannon generally represents the section of Trump’s team that is favourable towards rapprochement with Russia, stridently anti-Wahhabist (unlike the Obama administration as a means of contrast), but also deeply anti-Iranian and also anti-Chinese.

Received wisdom is that Bannon’s demotion represents a failure of Donald Trump to stand up for ‘his man Bannon’ against more establishment orientated, pro-deep state fugues like National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

With Flynn gone and Bannon demoted, Trump has at one less close ally, one and a half to be precise as Bannon will continue to be an official adviser to the US President. But as with the Flynn saga, it is not black and white.

While many people cheered Flynn and Bannon’s apparent views on Russia and Salifist terrorists, their views on Iran and China were/are not only hawkish, but deeply worrying. Some would say their views on Iran and China are fanatical.

What’s the point of America calming tensions with the nuclear power of Russia only to transfer the antagonism to China, another nuclear power, or for that matter Iran, a country that maintains formidable military force by any objective measure.

After Rex Tillerson’s surprisingly positive trip to China in recent weeks, could it be that Bannon was sacrificed in order to demonstrate that an anti-Chinese individual will no longer have as active a role in shaping White House foreign policy?

It is a distinct possibility that thus far no one has explored. In spite of Trump’s harsh rhetoric against China on the deeply exaggerated North Korean issue, Tillerson is emerging as something of a pragmatist with neither the time to indulge the insane regime change fantasies of neo-cons and Obama hold-overs, nor the more pseudo-apocalyptic views on Islamic and Communist states that Bannon apparently holds.

With all the tough talk on China, perhaps the White House couldn’t afford someone like Bannon to be around, as Bannon actually means what he says about China. Others, including Trump may simply be using the rhetoric to try to appear tough with China. Whether that works or not is an entirely different matter.

Bannon is after all a great PR man and he ought to focus his talents there. When it comes to foreign policy, pragmatists are needed. It still is not entirely clear if Rex Tillerson is a pragmatist, but at times he talks like one, which is more positive than Obama’s State Department which wouldn’t know pragmatism if it droned them in the head.

Things in Washington are never entirely what they seem. This could be one such example for the history books.

Roger Stone Explains Why Steve Bannon Was Removed From National Security Council

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