ALMATY, Kazakhstan — U.S. populist Steve Bannon moved off his recently adopted European stage and from his Italian monastery to Kazakhstan’s Almaty in Central Asia where he hugged and shared a platform with extreme-left commentator and former British politician George Galloway.
At the Eurasia Media Forum, 2019 both proclaimed their roots to working class people, with Bannon affirming his links to capitalism and Galloway, once expelled from the UK Labour Party, to “socialism” as they joined hands in a globalized anti-globalization alliance.
“I’m a working-class man from the same ethnoreligious background as Steve Bannon, although we have many other differences,” said Galloway as he and Bannon supported each other point for point on their vehemence of globalization and the European Union.
At the Eurasian Media Forum in the Almaty, the largest city in Kazkhstan, both predicted a sweeping victory across Europe in the May 27 elections for anti-EU candidates in the European elections.
Gains were indeed made in those election by the extreme left and right, where they certainly won the highest number of votes in Britain, France and Italy but their projections of a sweeping gain across Europe were off course.
The real gains were made by liberal and Green Party groups favoring a strong European Union in a record voting turnout for recent times.
Bannon has drawn media attention in Europe recently due to his involvement with the Certosa di Trisulti monastery, southeast of Rome, the home for a new school of political populism he has founded.
The monastery houses an institute run by Briton Benjamin Harnwell, a convert to Roman Catholicism, who recently told Britain’s Channel 4 News its role is to “save western civilization” and “mobilize Christian and Jews in the fight against Islam.”
SHIFTING POWER BALANCE
A shifting power balance and how it affects the trust in politicians along with deglobalization was the focus of the Eurasia Media Forum’s discussion on its final day.
One session was titled “Crisis of Trust, global power balance” which moderator and international broadcaster Stephen Cole described as a “superpower game of thrones.”
“East versus West was a very easy configuration to understand,” said Cole introducing the speakers. “Has the U.S. given up on nation building?” And, “what is the role of the media in all this?”
“I don’t speak for President Trump,” said Bannon who said he represents an “anti-Davos” movement.
But he said the United States has a “pretty clear plan” for the post Second World War liberal rules-based order that was a series of commercial arrangements, capital markets, trade arrangement and with American security added on.
“We are not an imperial power, we are a revolutionary power,” said Bannon.
Galloway who often agreed with Bannon said that he was “not happy” when Donald Trump was elected president, but he was happy that Hilary Clinton was kept out in a “sweep against liberalism.”
Bannon said, “The elites’ day is done,” and “you are starting to see a restructuring.”
He noted that “by Sunday night … the populist nationalist movement will start to take charge for a new beginning for the working class and middle class people throughout the world,” when the European Union election results were to be announced.
The Eurasian Media Forum describes itself as “an open dialogue on the most pressing topics of the present, with the participation of the most significant figures in the global media space, opinion leaders and recognized professionals in different fields.”
Its theme this year was “The world today: Transforming reality?” and the conference took place in the one-time capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty from May 22-24. The conference does not seem to mind having “tricky panelists” said one diplomat there.
In its 16th year, this forum gathered more than 600 delegates more than 60 countries.
“Kazakhstan is a natural bridge between East and West due to its unique position at the corner of Asia, Europe, and the post-Soviet region,” said the organizers.
Bannon, the former election campaign strategist for U.S. President Donald Trump, was joined on stage by academic Mark Siegel, former director of the U.S. National Committee of the Democratic Party from 1973 to 1977, and Galloway, a British commentator and former Member of Parliament.
The globalists’ defense was backed by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Austria’s former secretary of state.
Their arguments in favor of slow-moving reform and compromise sounded much less appealing than the rapier-like barbs of Galloway and Bannon’s suave slogans as both railed against globalism and regionalism in defense of their “rust belts” on both sides of the Atlantic, drawing the strongest applause with their populst rhetoric.
“The EU is supporting a rules-based order and not a jungle-based one. We recognize the need for reform at the EU and international-level, but international law is the basis for everything. Otherwise, we have struggles and conflicts,” Ferrero-Waldner said.
Siegel said it was impossible for US foreign policy to build trust under the Trump administration’s “allergy to multilateralism” and its “walking away from agreements and international law.”
RIPPING UP INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS
He said noone could build trust by “ripping up international agreements” such as Paris accord on climate change and the nuclear deal with Iran involving a number of nations spending 2 trillion dollars on a new nuclear program or “pardoning war criminals who violated the Geneva Convention.”
“There is no real decision-making process in the White House,” said Siegel. “A neo-isolationist President and his unilaterally interventionist national security advisor act by whim. Why would any country, such as North Korea, want to negotiate?”
Bannon, as seems to be customary, arrived on stage looking disheveled and bleary-eyed, his khaki chinos and hiking boots a counterpoint to the dapper outfits of the other stage participants including Galloway who kept his fedora on always, sending his verbal blasts from below his hat rim.
Fostering understanding across regional and cultural borders was the key motivation for Dr. Dariga Nazarbayeva when she founded the Forum in 2002.
She is an opera singer, chairperson of Kazakstan’s Senate and the daughter of former Kazakhstan President Nursultan Abishulý Nazarbayev. Some people say she may herself become president one day.
ROME – When Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina that “happy families are all alike” but that “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” he could have been talking about the European Union.
As the final ballots are counted in the 2019 European Parliamentary elections—posited as the most important such elections in the history of the E.U.—it is clear that the member states are not on the same page. Each individual nation, it seems, sought to solve its own problems without much thought to how they will fit into one bloc or another.
The far-right tsunami ballyhooed by American provocateur Steve Bannon, among others, failed to materialize as anticipated. Those parties did reasonably well in elections that often are viewed as a chance to protest the status quo rather than change policy, and Italy’s Matteo Salvini clearly is on a roll. But the real surprise for many europundits was the surge in green parties, as younger voters across the Continent seized on the environment as the most important issue for their future.
What all this means is that for the first time in more than 40 years, the European Parliament will not be dominated by traditional coalitions of conservative moderates and socialists, replaced instead by cacophonous groups representing what use to be the margins, be they greens or populists.
The far-right nationalist populists, as expected, performed well in countries where they had been polling in the lead, and where internal political divides have been particularly poisonous.
The multi-national far-right coalition, Europe of Nations and Freedom, which includes the parties of Italy’s Matteo Salvini and France’s Marine Le Pen, who eked out a slim margin ahead of Emmanuel Macron’s ruling centrist party, are on track to win 58 parliamentary seats—a whopping increase of 21 seats more than the member parties won in the last elections in 2014, but hardly a dominant force in a parliament with 751 seats.
The party of the most successful far-right leader in Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, won a whopping 52 percent of the vote in his nation of 10 million. He has managed to take over most of the press and his authoritarian, anti-immigrant, and allegedly anti-Semitic policies saw his party suspended by the mainstream center-right bloc in the European Parliament only a few weeks ago. He may now add his party’s 13 delegates to the far-right grouping.
The Brexit Party of the ever disruptive Nigel Farage in the U.K, appears to have won 28 of 64 British seats after a well funded and organized campaign for representation in a parliament it intends to leave. Most of its votes came at the expense of the shambolic Conservative Party, whose leader, Prime Minister Theresa May, announced her resignation last week. But, collectively, the divided parties that favor remaining in the E.U., led by the Liberal Democrats, also made a strong showing.ADVERTISING
In Britain and other unhappy countries, far-right winners will claim, predictably, that the European Parliament vote will give them claims on their national governments.
Le Pen immediately called on Macron to resign, but that is hardly likely since his mandate runs until 2022 and so does his party’s absolute majority in the French national assembly. In the event, Le Pen’s party edged out Macron’s by less than one point, which, considering Macron’s low poll ratings and France’s many problems over the last year, is not very impressive. Both parties may end up with 23 seats. Meanwhile the candidates presenting themselves as representatives of the anarchic yellow vest “movement,” which has disrupted French roads and trashed Paris every Saturday for months, attracted less than one percent of the vote.
Salvini is something else. His party won only six percent of the vote back in 2014, and jumped to more than 30 percent in these elections. He’ll be emboldened and may, as many analysts suggest, pull the plug on his fragile coalition with the Five Star movement, which did far worse than it had hoped. The sign he held up in his selfie tweet on the news of the preliminary results said it all: “The first party in Italy. Thank you.” But the bric a brac on the shelf behind him said more: a photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a MAGA hat.View image on Twitter
Una sola parola: GRAZIE Italia! 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/PEmaNvCpNJ— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) May 26, 2019
When Greece’s center-right New Democracy edged ahead of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s ruling coalition, Tsipras took the defeat to heart and called snap elections.
The environment-first green parties were also clear winners, especially in France, Germany and Ireland, with the coalition expected to win 71 seats, nearly 20 more than five years ago. They are on track to be the fourth largest group in the parliament, which means even if they won’t have enough power to make any meaningful change to how Europe deals with the threat of climate change, they will be able to make considerable noise.
By Monday morning, if the elections are looked at as a contest between pro-European Union and eurosceptic trends, it appears the union has won. But as the dust settles on this important election, which may be the last in which the U.K. participates, it is clear that the European Union is not growing old gracefully. It is anything but clear what will happen when this motley parliament sits for the first time.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world,” Tolstoy also wrote. “But no one thinks of changing himself.”
PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday accused former Trump strategist Steve Bannon and Russian oligarchs of conspiring with Europe’s nationalists to dismantle the European Union, saying Europeans “should not be naive” about foreign interference ahead of this week’s European Parliament elections.
The centrist French leader said in an interview with French regional newspapers published Tuesday that “Russians and some others” are financing extremist political parties in Europe, without elaborating.
Macron also singled out Bannon for criticism. Bannon, who has been in France in recent days and praised far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s campaign, called himself an “observer.”
Macron’s interview is a last-ditch appeal for support for his centrist movement in the elections, in which nationalists are expected to gain ground amid worries about migration.
Le Pen invited Bannon to a congress last year of her anti-immigration party, which changed its name from National Front to National Rally. However, she has publicly distanced herself from him ahead of France’s May 26 elections.
“He has no role in the campaign,” she said Monday on FranceInfo. She claimed she didn’t know he was in town, although Le Parisien newspaper reported that two National Rally party officials were spotted in the luxury Bristol Hotel where he was staying.
Bannon’s presence in Paris in the last week of campaigning – with numerous interviews in the French press – riled other parties, including Macron’s.
Le Pen blamed the media.
“It’s not us who invite Steve Bannon into the campaign. It’s you journalists who invite (him),” Le Pen said, noting the numerous interviews he has given to the French press.M
Macron himself has been criticized for his increasingly active role in his party’s campaign as polls show his Republic on the Move! neck to neck with Le Pen’s National Rally. Her party was the biggest winner in France’s European Parliament voting in 2014.
Many in France have framed the European elections as a replay of France’s 2017 presidential vote, which pitted Macron against Le Pen – who lost in a landslide – and say the president is on shaky ground throwing himself into the ring.
He argued that the elections are “the most important since 1979 because the (European) Union is facing an existential risk.”
Asked to define Europe’s biggest enemy, Macron told regional newspapers that “the enemy of Europe is he doesn’t believe in its future. The nationalists who want to divide it are the main enemies.”
He said he saw “connivance between nationalists and foreign interests, whose objective is the dismantling of Europe” – naming Steve Bannon, “close to the American power structure.”
Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, compared the campaigns of several White House hopefuls to candidates vying for student council president.
Mr. Bannon, the former executive editor of Breitbart News, made the analogy during a television interview while discussing the campaigns of Democratic contenders Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Mayor Pete Mayor Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and former Texas congressman Beta O’Rourke.
“They have some terrific young candidates, but nobody has broken out,” Mr. Bannon said on the Fox Business Network. “I think one of the reasons they are in single digits, is Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete, Beto, across the board, they are running like they are running for student council president. They are not talking about China. They’re not talking about Iran. They’re not talking about Venezuela. This is a very dangerous world right now.”
“You’re running to be commander in chief of the great nation of earth, and you’ve got to talking about it and engaging on it,” said Mr. Bannon.
Ms. Harris, Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. O’Rourke are among more than 20 candidates currently seeking the Democratic nomination to run in 2020 against Mr. Trump. Recent polling has placed all three of them well behind the party’s two current frontrunners: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont Independent.
YAHOO: France’s European election campaign has an unexpected guest: controversial American political strategist Steve Bannon, who is praising far-right leader Marine Le Pen and claiming France is the most important country in this week’s EU-wide poll.
Since Steve Bannon arrived in Paris sometime around the end of last week, he has told newspaper Le Parisien that France’s campaign was “without a doubt” the most important in the EU parliamentary elections.
He then predicted in the Sunday newspaper Journal du Dimanche that “Marine will win in the end” before heaping further praise on the far-right leader on Monday.
“Her resilience, given that she has made a comeback from her failure in 2017, and the way she has given a new identity to the National Front [now named the National Rally], everything she has done in terms of leading her party, I find it quite remarkable,” Bannon said on BFM TV.
Polls suggest Le Pen’s National Rally is neck-and-neck with the centrist Republic on the Move party of President Emmanuel Macron, both of them far outdistancing more traditional centre-left and centre-right groups.
Macron’s camp appears to be taking the presence of the former chair of Breitbart media seriously, in one instance warning the strategist’s presence is proof that Le Pen’s National Rally is a Trojan horse for Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin to destroy the EU.
Macron himself warned in an interview published Tuesday that Europeans “should not be naïve” about the influence of Bannon on the future of the bloc.
France key to Bannon’s vision of Europe
Following the mid-term congressional elections in the United States in November, Bannon said he planned to spend most of his time in Europe, where he has sought to unite the continent’s right-wing populist and conservative nationalist political parties.
His remarks in the media suggests he sees France as a key battleground to those efforts.
“He sees in France a country that is not very satisfied with Macron, the European parliamentary elections have a lot of protest voters, and his ultimate goal is to build a right-wing populist supergroup in the European parliament,” said Dan Smith, doctoral researcher in right-wing populism at Cambridge University.
“I think he sees France as the place with the best opportunity for the far right to do well in these European elections.”
Bannon’s singling out of France also seems to have as much to do with opposing the staunch federalist Macron, who has positioned himself as a saviour against the surge of far-right populist nationalism in the EU, as with supporting Le Pen.
In the Le Parisien interview, Bannon spoke of the importance of opposing Macron’s “globalist vision” for ever-deeper integration and federalisation of EU member states and called the election “a referendum on him and his vision for Europe”.
Even Bannon’s choice of destination, the luxury Bristol Paris hotel, sits just over a hundred metres from where Macron holds office in the Elysée palace, France’s presidential residence.
“This has to do with the narrative that has played out for the past few weeks, where these elections have been presented as a referendum on Europe,” said Alberto Alemanno, professor of EU law at HEC Paris business school and founder of pro-EU group The Good Lobby.
“He [Bannon] played a significant role in building and shaping such a narrative, perhaps a smaller role in supporting this ultra-right, anti-European movement. But he’s certainly taking a lot of credit for what is happening and for this narrative to take off.”
A movement and a monastery
Bannon has been playing up the influence of what he calls a worldwide nationalist movement in his media appearances, drawing links between Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Narendra Modi in India as well as Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini in Italy, Viktor Orban in Hungary and Nigel Farage in the UK.
Two years ago, he launched group called The Movement in efforts to unite Europe’s nationalist conservatives and right-wing populists.
The group has mostly kept a low profile so far, though it did gain one high-profile member last September in Salvini, who signed up far-right party The League to bring the number of partners to four.
Bannon is also supporting the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, a conservative Catholic group wishing to turn a remote monastery not far from Rome in Italy into a training centre for activists to build a populist faction inside the Catholic Church.
It was not particularly clear whether these efforts would or could translate into support for Le Pen, who has denied Bannon has any role in her campaign and claimed only to have learned of his presence in France in the press.
“I’m of the opinion that there are more people who hear his name and are turned off by it than people who would hear his name and think they should vote for the National Rally,” said Dan Smith. “He may end up hurting them more than helping them.”
But Le Pen does not deny having links with Bannon, who spoke at a National Rally event in March of last year, and his influence may have more to do with developing anti-EU messaging they are using to gain influence among their own voters.
“Certainly he has merit in seeing an opportunity in Europe to connect the dots among groups and political parties that were not necessarily aware of the potential to Europeanise their political discourse,” said Alberto Alemanno, who is nonetheless sceptical the different groups can work together.
“I don’t think it is very realistic to imagine all these political forces on the ultra-right to sit together on 27 May, in the aftermath of these elections,” Alemanno said. “Their political priorities are very national and very misaligned.”
But others see a risk of a large part of the European parliament being versed in similar anti-EU messaging, and the elections will be an initial sign of whether they will be able to destabilise the EU from within.
“We are at the summit of what he envisioned two years ago, when he started The Movement,” François Durpaire, specialist in American history at the University of Cergy-Pointoise north of Paris, told RFI.
“His goal is to build a large group that can weigh upon to destroy the European Union,” Durpaire said. “We’ll see how successful he has been on Sunday.”
Julia Limitone Published May 21, 2019
FOX BUSINESS: Former White House chief strategist Steven Bannon, in his first interview since Chinese state TV declared him to be the true enemy of the U.S., said China is on edge. He believes the personal attacks on him are signs that they are in a total state of hysteria.
“It’s interesting,” he told FOX Business’ Trish Regan on Monday. “You know, both CCTV, which is the BBC of China, and also “The Global Times,” which is their tabloid of “The People’s Daily,” which they used to attack — I think this is the first time in living memory they have gone after a private citizen. That shows you how nervous they are.”
In Bannon’s opinion, China wasn’t ready for someone like Trump to call them out for cheating.
“They understand that President Trump fully gets the economic war that they’ve been running on the industrial democracies, particularly the United States, for 20 years. And they are in absolute shock that Donald Trump stood up to them,” he said, adding that “Trump’s deal with Bob Lighthizer was a very well-thought strategic deal. They’re in panic.”C
Chinese President Xi and chief trade negotiator Liu He visited the country’s rare earth mining base on Monday. In Bannon’s opinion this is a signal to the U.S. that “this economic war is about to go to another level.” Rare earth minerals are critical parts of some military and industrial products.
China toughened its stance on the U.S. recently, threatening to retaliate after Trump hiked tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods from 10 to 25 percent.
Joe Concha 05/21/19 08:44 AM EDT
Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon on Monday characterized some Democratic presidential candidates as “running like they are running for student council president” by not talking about issues related to China, Iran and Venezuela.
During an appearance on Fox Business, Bannon specifically pointed out poll numbers for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who are all polling in single digits and trailing the front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, by at least 30 points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls.
“As you look at that landscape, who would you say is the biggest threat for Donald Trump in 2020?” host Trish Regan asked the former executive editor of Breitbart News.
“Well, listen, since I think these election are not about persuasion but mobilization, and looking off of 2018, well, [Democrats] did a great job,” Bannon said while speaking from Paris. “Remember in the House races, they beat us 52-46, I think they got 6 or 8 million votes more. 2018 should be studied in detail. It’s about mobilization.”
He went on to say that some candidates are not focused on larger international issues.
“They have some terrific young candidates, but nobody has broken out,” Bannon said. “I think one of the reasons they are in single digits, is Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete, Beto, across the board, they are running like they are running for student council president. They are not talking about China. They’re not talking about Iran. They’re not talking about Venezuela.
“This is a very dangerous world right now, and President Trump has got a very same policy he’s going through. This is almost like 1930s to a degree,” Bannon concluded. “We’re going through a dark valley against very tough individuals, and a lot of — as President Trump calls them, are ‘bad hombres,’ OK? And you hear debates, it is like the United States exists on an island. That is not the case.”
Bannon has repeatedly focused on China in recent interviews, including with CNBC last week.
“China has been running an economic war against the industrial democracies for now 20 years,” he said in an appearance on “Squawk Box” on May 15.
“There is no chance that Donald Trump backs down from this. I think he’s looking at the good of people on a global basis,” he added.
Bannon departed in the White House in August 2017 after seven months as Trump’s chief strategist.