Bannon: China was not prepared to have Trump in office

TRISH REGAN, FBN HOST:  He is public enemy number one as far as China is concerned.  The man who identified and articulated, perhaps before anyone else in the financial and policy circles, the looming threat posed to us, the United States of America by Chinese, Mr. Steve Bannon.  Steve Bannon, the chief executive of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and later chief strategist to president, has pounded China for its predatory economic policies, policies he believes that must be corrected.Well, now, China is launching its own attack on him, with Chinese state TV declaring Steve Bannon is the true enemy of the United States.Here now to respond in his first interview since China started launching all these political and personal attacks on him, Mr. Steve Bannon himself live from Paris, France, tonight.  Good to have you here, Steve.  Welcome.  

STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST:  Trish, thanks for having me on tonight.

REGAN:  And I appreciate you staying up late, because I know it’s pretty late, like 2:00 a.m. over there in France.I do want to get to one of the reasons why you’re there, which is the elections.  But let’s get to the China stuff first, starting on the other side of world, if you would, the Chinese are saying that you, sir, are hurting America, that you’re the problem.  You are the demon, I believe, it was the quote.  How did you respond to that?  

BANNON:  Well, it’s interesting.  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 first time in living memory they have gone after a private citizen, that shows how nervous they are.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, said, hey, I’m not going to sign some trade deal which we don’t have you commit to start to restructure your economy, to fit into the world’s economy, and really, stopped this economic war both on technology front and on the force technology transfers and subsidies to state-owned industries, all of it.  Trump’s deal with Bob Lighthizer was a very well-thought strategic deal.  They’re in panic.  Remember, the reason Donald Trump is president, Trish, and you see him up in Pennsylvania tonight, is that the working people in the country, the deplorables understood that the elites in our country were having managed decline.  You see that here in Western Europe.  You certain see it at the United States, and they rejected that.The Chinese drafted off that for 20 years.  And in fact, Wall Street, the city of London, the corporatist, they all made a ton of money shipping the jobs, the high-value added jobs over to China.  They were not prepared to have a guy like Donald Trump say, hey, we’re not doing this deal.  We’re going to get down to it and actually, you’re going to have to commit to stop the cheating or have to commit to stop the theft.  You’re going to have to commit to act like a good global citizen.  So, now, you see him striking out today, interestingly enough after they attacked me over the week, Liu He, the chief negotiator, and President Xi went on a rare earth producer in China, I think that send a signal to United States, that this economic war is about to go to another level.

REGAN:  So, China is playing the long game, right?  I mean, they’ve got a plan for next hundred years.  We have a plan effectively for the next, you know, couple of years.  And if President Trump is reelected, then a plan for the next six years or so.  So, I guess my question is, how much pain can our economy withstand if, in fact, we’re affected by this?Thus far, we’ve been in pretty good shape.  You look at the GDP numbers.  You look at the job numbers.  All of that has been good.  But if it starts to turn, do the Chinese sit back and say, hey, I told you so?  And do we run the risk of maybe caving to some of the economic and political pressure?  

BANNON:  You know, the backbone of this country, the working men and women have been through a lot, and have, you know, through 20th century have supported the policymakers and the direction of the country.  I think what’s important is what you see is that you’re seeing it coming together right now.  Those numbers that you just talked about, remember, that the drop in import prices, the increase to 3.2 over 2.2 economy growth, this is all because of Trump’s plan.  It’s coming to fruition.  But we’re seeing a decrease in the trade deficit, we’re seeing the import prices come down.And so, you start to see — you’re seeing employment coming down.  You’re seeing the fact of what Trump is doing his long game, I think it is longer than a couple of years, he is bringing the supply chain back to the west, and that is where the heart of this.This breaks made in China 2025, which is heart of this thing, which was advance chip design, artificial intelligence and robotics which China was trying to basically steal our technology and become a dominant high end manufacturer.  Trump is breaking that right now.  And I think you can see — I think this game is a lot longer play.  And you see today, to read the front page of “The Financial Times,” you now have Dan Coats in the intelligence groups going around to the venture capital firms, the private equity firms, the corporations, the Silicon Valley, and starting to walk people through the threats of Huawei and some of these others, and that is driven by both Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Mark Warner, the Democrat.  I believe you are seeing a coming together with tweets of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi.  I think you’re seeing like Rubio, in Capitol Hill, it’s been a sea-change over the last two years.  That’s Trump’s leadership in not backing down.  So, you’re seeing now I think the country coming together.  I think we’re now having — with Mike Pence’s speech, you’re seeing all forces of government start to go, this is not about the Chinese people.  The Chinese people are the ones that have been absolutely, you know, blown apart by this.  This 100 percent of the CCP, this radical cadre of the CCP, that’s been doing this. So, I think you are seeing a coming together, they say they can play long game.  I don’t think they’ve got the bullets in the chamber.

REGAN:  I look at the enormous rise, right, in Chinese economy.  And you can go back — it really started under Bill Clinton.  And I’m not — you know, I’m not pointing the blame towards anyone specific here because it continued really under both parties, and American business benefitted from that.  American businesses likes that, right, because they wanted to have a present in China, and the thought being, gosh, they’ve got a billion people over there.  You want to have access to that market.  And so, CEOs who were interested in daily stock price and quarterly earnings are thinking, I need to be in that market.  Is this the place where you need government to step in?  Because market forces would be more selfishly driven in that, the CEO wants the earnings that they could get from China, maybe willing to risk a lot, and sacrifice a lot?  

BANNON:  This is the heart of — this is the heart of economic nationalism.  In fact, they really work just look at the Chinese market, the central part of this — and you are too polite and too nice to call them out, so I will.  This is a permanent political class.  This is not about party.  This is both Republicans and Democrats.  This is from Clinton to Bush to Obama.  This is all the Wall Street faction.  This is the corporatists.  The first thing they wanted was to ship manufacturing jobs, they wanted cheaper labor, OK?  They wanted access to Chinese market ultimately.  This is about cheap labor.  This is why throughout the world, what China exports most is deflation and overcapacity.  And we’ve allowed them to do that.  OK?  That is why you haven’t had wages rise in Japan, in Western Europe, or the United States.  This is all part of the kind of party of Davos, of their economy plan, which they benefited from.  Remember — and this managed declined by our elites, the elites did fine, OK?  And the financial crisis, which they bailed themselves out, is the working people throughout Europe and the U.S. and Japan that have taken it on the chin.  And this was — this is a well-thought through business model and it worked for people.  They were never called out.  They were never called out until Donald Trump won the 2016 campaign in Upper Midwest with Reagan Democrats and low propensity voters and the deplorables.  Those are the people that had his back, and they know that jobs left, opioids came in.  And it was destroying the heart of this country.  This is what this is about.  And this is why Trump showed such political courage, and doing this, and the pressure on him has been tremendous, more pressure from Republicans, free traders.And here is the insanity of it, China is a totalitarian, surveillance, mercantilist business model.  State capitalism with big government.  It’s not a free trader at all.  You can’t get in there, right?  And this — we had free trade mentality and this happy talk for years.  The other thing is, look at all the false scare tactics that Wall Street used leading up this, the market was going to implode.  It’s going to go down 2,000 points.  The economy is going to implode. It’s just like scare tactics that were used when Donald Trump won the presidency and they said the market is going to implode, OK?  The fear project turned out to be Y2K.  The economy is actually growing strongly, right?  There’s been a few prohibitions (ph) in the market, but it’s basically a break even.  And I tell you, I think Trump is very focused, I think you will see in his speech tonight in Pennsylvania I think will reiterate this.But this is the beating heart, this is single-most important thing he will do in his presidency.  This is his Reagan moment.  This is a major infliction point in world history.  It’s a major infliction point in American history.REGAN:  Which is why the Chinese are so mad at him and also at you.  Let me ask about what’s going on in Europe, and we’ll continue this conversation here.  I mean, you got also working class there that said, OK, we had enough, this isn’t fair.  We’ve gotten the short end of this stick.  What is it that we should know about Europe as we think about how the U.S. is going to react in 2020? 

BANNON:  I think you see, look, Brexit was forerunner to 2016 Trump election.  And I think you’re seeing — you saw in Australia the other night, a populist — you know, a victory at very last second.  And I think you’re seeing here a momentum building for this populist national sovereignty parties.  I think a movement is building up here in France, where Marine Le Pen has come back, and a tremendous comeback when she was defeated by Macron.  She and Macron are in a dead heat for European parliamentary elections.  He’s made it a referendum on himself.  In Italy, Salvini is leading I think with over 30 percent of the vote.  You’ve got Orban. All the populist parties including Nigel Farage, who has a part — he just started about five or six weeks ago called Brexit which is polling right now, Trish, higher than Labour and the Tory Party combined.  So, you are seeing a revolution here in Europe, and it’s the exact same thing as United States, working class people that are tired of the central government in Brussels in what I call this party at Davos, the financial, managerial, engineering, scientific elite that have, you know, call all the shots and had let this migrant issue really eviscerate the working class in Italy and in France.  You’re seeing people fight back.  And I got to tell you, next Sunday, I think we’re going to have a political earthquake in Europe just like the head of the political earthquake when Donald Trump won in November 2016.

REGAN:  Wow, wow. Don’t go anywhere.  Stay with me because I’ve got a lot more to ask you about — we’re going to find out what Steve Bannon thinks of the now 23 and still counting mostly far left Democratic candidates that are all trying to beat his former boss in 2020.  Steve Bannon is back with me live from Paris, after this.(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REGAN:  I’m back with Steve Bannon, who just said there is a political earthquake coming to Europe this Sunday.Steve, good to have you here.  He is live in Paris, France.  Good to see that Eiffel Tower there behind you.Let me ask you about 2020, though, here on this side of the pond.  We were just talking about China.  And you got Joe Biden out there saying, you know, China is not that big a deal.  You know, why is President Trump talking about China?Is that the sort of party line that Democrat is going to pursue?  And if so, where does that land them or Joe Biden, shall I say, in 2020?  

BANNON:  I don’t think it is necessarily Democrats at all.  I think you’re going to see some tough lines taken.  But let’s go to Biden, specifically.  You know, Joe Biden — I think Joe Biden has got to prove to the American people two things.  Number one, he’s going to prove first he is not compromised by Chinese communist party.  In 2013, and President Trump — last night on FOX, on Steve Hilton show, asked for this, it’s picked up in “The New York Times” tonight.  He’s now calling for this — off of Peter Schweizer’s investigation.  Schweizer is the same team of this organization I used to oversee years ago that did “Clinton Cash”, that drilled down on corruption, the corruption of the Clinton apparatus.  They did same thing on Joe Biden, and what they found in 2013, his son, Hunter, who’s totally unqualified, went on a trip with him to China, and then afterward stuck around in Bank of China, which unlike any other central bank in G20, reports is not independent like the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.  It reports to the government.They gave this kid $1 billion dollars and then to a $1.5 billion.  Somebody who’s totally unqualified to run a private equity or venture capital fund or a hedge fund, gave him $1.5 billion to invest.  It turns out, he invested some of that I believe in surveillance companies, some of these companies that oppressed the Chinese people, the hardworking Chinese people that have been enslaved by the Chinese communist party.  Joe Biden is hiding from this, he will not come forward.  President Trump called him out last night personally on the Steve Hilton show.  I think it’s very important.  We have to understand that Joe Biden and his family have not been compromised.  This is why this thing has been gone for so long.  The Chinese are great at influence-peddling, and we have to understand if Joe Biden’s skirts are clean on this.  He’s got to come forward.We’ve got to know how much wealth his family has created off this.  We have to know why he took a billion and a half dollars from an oppressive government, and what they did with it.  And number two is he said the other day, well, they’re not even a strategic competitor.  Come on, man.  He’s got to — he’s got to convince the American people he is serious about this.REGAN:  That’s not an easy thing —  

BANNON:  This is the greatest geostrategic enemy we’ve ever had.  This is an existential threat to the United States of America.  And now, everybody understands that.  (INAUDIBLE) came back from Berlin and in Paris, people in Europe understand it.This is not a game, this is deadly serious, and Joe Biden is blowing it off.  And people in those Upper Midwest states, middle class show, they’re going to understand that Joe Biden looked other way while all the jobs got shipped on China.  So, I think as he gets forced to Democratic primary, he’s going to get eaten up on China.  And I think you’re start see some people on the Democratic Party go after him.Now, I will say something about Bernie Sanders.  Bernie Sanders had every opportunity in 2016 with all the information out there in “Clinton Cash”.  The book, the movie, the research side, he never went after Hillary Clinton.  I kept saying Bernie Sanders had a pillow fight.  It was Donald Trump that took a tour.  When I go to the campaign, we went after Hillary Clinton every day on her corruption, and her incompetence, and Bernie Sanders, and Bernie Sanders — all the supporters were so disappointed in ’16, they ought to get on Bernie Sanders every day and ask why is he not on Joe Biden’s being compromised by the Chinese communist party?  

REGAN:  As you look at that landscape, who would you say is biggest threat for Donald Trump in 2020? 

BANNON:  Well, listen, since I think these election are now about persuasion but mobilization, and looking off of ’18, well, they did a great job, remember in the House races, they beat us 52-46, I think they got six or eight million votes more, ‘18 should be studied in detail.  It’s about mobilization.They have some terrific young candidates, but nobody has broken out.  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.  You know, 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 (ph) policy he’s going through.  This is almost like 1930s to a degree.  We’re going through a dark valley against very tough individuals, and a lot of — as President Trump calls them bad hombres, OK?  And you hear debates, and you hear people like — it was like, United States exists on an island.  That is not the case.  I think what Kamala and Pete and these others, to get any traction, you have to say — you have to remember, you are running to be commander in chief of the greatest nation on earth, and you got to start talking about it, and engaging on it.  Right now, I think it looks like Bernie and Biden — Biden has got to be forced in, got to be forced back into Democratic primary.  He is getting a total free pass right now.  He’s running a general election strategy.  So, I don’t think that — I don’t think that anybody is emerged yet because I don’t think they are down into it enough.  But I think if the Democrats, to get more traction, what they’re going to have to do is at least act as a counter to President Trump’s pretty well-thought through policies particularly on China.  President Trump has got a very set geostrategic plan here, and you’re not hearing anything really from Democrats right now.  So, I think it’s got to be — you’re to have to see how this thing develops.

REGAN:  Oh, for sure.  It’s economic.  It’s political.Let me turn to Iran.  Things are heating up with Iran right now.  Where do you see this heading?  I mean, could — this is a president who’s really kind of made a point of not wanting to engage our military in anything that might be considered needless.  However, if provoked, a whole different story.So, what does it mean with Iran today?  

BANNON:  Well, listen, I think remember, President Trump ran on — we spend $7 trillion in Middle East on wars that we didn’t win.  The American people — one reason he is president because of this managed decline by the elites.  President Trump is not an isolationist.  America First is not — you know, all the people in the Democratic Party, opposition policies (ph), he’s not isolationist.  He’s noninterventionist, because we saw where intervention got us in last 20 years.And President Trump I think in Venezuela and Iran, I think he’s too — his idea and I think what he is thinking through is the right way to go.  He put economic sanctions on it if we put secondary sanctions, I think you could break the mullahs.  You know, as a young naval officer, I was on a destroyer on a carrier battle group up there off of Iran back in ’79 during the hostage situation.  I can tell you, it’s pretty hostile.  I don’t think — I think getting ahead of yourselves militarily is not the way to go.  I’m a big believer in nonintervention but a big believer in peace through strength, and taken it to people when you have to take it to them, like in China. I think Iran, President Trump had right plan.  I don’t know what advisory thing is.  I know what I read in the papers and some of the scuttlebutt I hear.  But I think that President Trump has now got his vision and what he wants to do in Iran.  I don’t think there will be military conflict there, I think there will be a lot of saber-rattling.  I think the same thing in Venezuela.  These are situations that I don’t think the American people want us directly involved in, although they want them handled.  (CROSSTALK)

REGAN:  I hear you — I mean, using the military —  

BANNON:  And President Trump understands economic warfare because he’s a businessman, better than anybody I know.REGAN:  It’s a path that I don’t think that anyone would want to go down.  To risk lives, I’ve always said, I’d rather lose, you know, dollars than lives.  And there is a lot that can done with economic sanctions.  But we’ve got a report out tonight that Russians are out there trying to restructure Venezuela’s debt.  And, by the way, there are some — ton of oil to us right now.  Their oil sales are way up, why, because we can’t take any from Venezuela.So, as you think about strategically, the western hemisphere, obviously, we don’t want to be using our military in any way, shape or form.  But how do we get some kind of resolution there so that we have some kind of a relationship with Venezuela, and, look, I mean, it’s got oil that would rival Saudi Arabia actually, proven reserves in the Orinoco, a third more than Saudi Arabia.  

BANNON:  Look, Russia is a troublemaker, they’re always going to try to be causing trouble, right?  China is the one to worry about, and China is also getting involved there.  Obviously, Cuba.  I think it, first, is front line nations.  It’s Brazil.  It’s Colombia.  You have to do this in partnership.  You know, we have to have to clean (ph) this type of stuff up but we can’t do it with military intervention.  I think actually the situation that happened (ph) a couple of weeks ago I think was embarrassing.  And I don’t think the United States should be involved in things like that.We’ve had to have a very well-thought through thing, because here’s what’s going to happen — when civil society implodes in Venezuela, the payback I think is going to be pretty horrific.  You have the Chavistas, you’ve had — this is a very troubled society right below the surface.  You have to be careful what you do, and we have to have buy in by the front line nations.  We have to have Bolsonaro in Brazil, we have to have the populists in Colombia on our side.  It has to be a very well thought plan.Here’s my big concern about the interventionists.  They are good at getting us in the situations.  They’re not so good about thinking through about how you hold and they’re certainly not very good about getting out.  I think Venezuela takes a lot of thought, but absolutely.  You know, we have to be involved, but get to (ph) in a reflective way.   I don’t think backing some guy with a bullhorn, and nine soldiers behind him is the way to go.  We have to very reflective.  And I think the pressure ports show that the president is saying, whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s think this through.  Let’s think Venezuela through.  And let’s thing think Iran through very thoroughly and let’s use our economic power to bring about a resolution.

REGAN:  Well, it’s something he knows how to do.  Steve, it is great talking to you.  I really appreciate you joining me tonight.  

BANNON:  Trish — well, Trish, thanks for having me on.REGAN:  It’s good stuff.  Steve Bannon, live from Paris.  END

Steve Bannon: “After the election, every day in Brussels will be Stalingrad

Steve Bannon: “After the election, every day in Brussels will be Stalingrad

Marc Felix Serrao NZZ March 16, 2019
Steve Bannon, the former head strategist of Donald Trump, has been working for months to strengthen and network Europe’s right-wing populists. The established parties are about to collapse, he says. An interview about the return of nationalism, Russian tanks, Chinese aggression and a life without hierarchies.
Steve Bannon’s security guard stands out in the lobby of the Berlin Hotel Adlon. He is about twice as wide as the other guests and wears sweaty sportswear. Morning exercise, he explains, leading the reporter to a suite on the second floor. Steve Bannon opens the door in a good mood. “Hi there,” says former US President Donald Trump’s chief strategist. Then he orders coffee in thermoses and sits down at a round table overlooking the Brandenburg Gate. He is in town for the first time, but unfortunately has no time to look at anything. Everything is “work, work, work”. Bannon has come to advise the AFD. In 2017, he founded “The Movement” with Mischaël Modrikamen, the head of the Belgian People’s Party, in Brussels. The NGO should support and network Europe’s nationalists. For months, Bannon is on a European tour. At the end of May, the new European Parliament will be elected, and if the 65-year-old’s bill is up, then the political landscape of the continent will not be recognized.
What brings you to Berlin, Mr. Bannon?
The optional. The last six months I have been in Europe again and again. Ten days ago I was in Norway, next I’m going to Paris, Italy, then Spain. I’m in Berlin to meet some leading alternative people for Germany. We are talking about the election of the European Parliament. The AFD will probably become part of the Salvini faction (Italy’s Interior Minister and Lega Nord chief Matteo Salvini, editor’s note). In the autumn there will be three more elections in Germany.
In Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia.
Yes, Saxony will be particularly interesting. We talked about her ideas, and I shared my observations with the AfD. I do that everywhere in Europe. We are an NGO. I am not paid, I am not a political advisor. I’m just an observer.
When you started your activities in Europe in the summer of 2018, that sounded a bit more exploratory. “We will take the lead in the EU,” you said.
That will happen too.
This year?
If the trends remain stable, we will see a result that I predicted at that time: about one third of the members of the European Parliament will come from the nationalist camp, maybe more. The momentum is on our side. And more importantly, there is an opportunity to form a “Super Group” in Parliament. And do not forget Nigel Farage and the Brexit party.
Her friend Farage was last in the UK in polls at 34 percent.
I hear that even 40 percent are possible. When we started our movement, everything was disorganized. Everyone did their own thing. There were no discussions about a Super Group. Nobody dreamed of taking over one third of the seats.
One third is not a majority. The European People’s Party will suffer heavy losses, but remain the strongest political force, according to all polls.
After the election, every day in Brussels will be Stalingrad. The nationalists will work together. Networking will allow for what I call “command by negation”: You can not enforce your will because you have no majority, but you can block things. This fundamentally changes the situation. Let us ignore the British and Brexit for a moment: none of the parties I am talking to want to leave the European Union. What they want is a Europe of nations. There are two basic philosophies in this election, and that makes it so important to the citizens. On one side is Macron with his “Renaissance” alliance, for which he advertises everywhere. His goal corresponds to the program of globalists: the United States of Europe. Germany should become something like North Carolina, and France South Carolina. Nations as the administrative unit of a central bureaucracy. Macron wants to centralize foreign policy, he wants to build an EU army.
And the other side?
The is committed to the old Westphalian system. In it, individual nation states represent the interests of their citizens. They form a union that may have some more commercial but less political integration, especially in foreign and immigration policies. And no EU army.
There is no majority for the United States of Europe or the abolition of nation states. This also applies to the established parties, and it applies even more to their basis.
Exactly. The basis of the parties. That is not what you hear in the European Parliament, apart from the supporters of national sovereignty. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I mean, about 70 percent of the laws in Germany come from Brussels.
When it comes down to issues of foreign and defense policy and the military, Europe’s states still set the tone today.
And that’s why Macron has put these things on the table right now. He wants to change that. And the base of the parties does not know. European elections have always taken place here on page five of the newspapers. But this time there is a debate. And a real alternative: Salvini, Orban, Le Pen, AfD. The alternative is to let the nation-states regain control – not to destroy the EU, but to reform it.
Is it really a united alternative? And do you have any influence on that? They had tried Europe and failed, according to the American edition of Spectator. Other media in your home country look the same. All refer to European law. This is strict as far as foreign influence on elections is concerned. As in the USA.
Fake News! Even if I worked for money as a political advisor, I could do what I am doing now. Dozens of parties in Europe have asked me. But I only run one NGO. I am an informal consultant and observer.
Marine Le Pen is in trouble because of you. They accuse her of “colluding with a foreign power.”
What should I be? A foreign power? I do not work for the American government. I am a private citizen, a very average guy. This thing in France. , , Do you know what I love about it? That’s the establishment’s panic. They experience a total nervous breakdown. I can have as many meetings with Marine Le Pen as I want. France is a free country.
Did you financially support Marine Le Pen, directly or indirectly?
No, zero. I looked at their financial planning and said here and there what I think is smart. I do that for a lot of people. I used to be an investment banker, I constantly look at business plans. Marine Le Pen’s party has done a great job collecting its own money. And now they hit Macron.
Le Pens Rassemblement national and Macron’s La République en marche are on the same level as the polls.
In the survey that I saw, she was one point ahead. He is, and I emphasize that now, because you are here on his side. , ,
, , , I do not stand on anyone’s side, Mr. Bannon. , ,
, , , he is the president of France. He has been in office since 2017 and is back where he started today. This is crazy. He got stuck – and she recovered from a massive defeat.
This is your political spin.
This is not a spin.
One could also argue that Macron’s poll numbers are stable in the circumstances. France has experienced months of serious unrest.
Which planet do you live on? Macron created the yellow vests themselves. He has launched the fraudulent, mendacious Paris Climate Agreement, along with Angela Merkel. This treaty allows the Chinese to pump as many fumes into the atmosphere as they want, and the Western democracies should pay for it. What did Macron do? He taxed the people most affected by the emigration of jobs in France. That’s why they protested.
Let’s talk about Germany. Here, the outcome of the election has the greatest impact on the composition of Parliament. 96 elected officials will be from the Federal Republic.
That’s why I spend five days here! Germany is the central nation of our European project.
The AfD is in the polls at 1o to 13 percent. Although this is a significant increase, it is still far from the first place. And it is weak compared to the results in some state elections. Why is it? Is Jörg Meuthen the wrong top candidate?
Absolutely not. I met Doctor Meuthen. , ,
, , , Professor Meuthen. , ,
Of course, Professor Doktor Meuthen. I am very impressed with him, especially his knowledge in economic matters. On Saturday we will be together in Milan. He has become one of the driving forces behind the formation of a Super Group of Nationalists in the European Parliament.
Could the poll numbers of the AfD also have something to do with the hiccups around the “Dexit”? The party was only for Germany to leave the EU, now it takes a neutral stance.
That could have played a role. The majority of Germans want to reform the EU, they do not want to leave. The other populist movements no longer demand an exit. Even Le Pen. When she started in 2017, she has announced a referendum in the event of an electoral victory, as in the UK.
An AfD politician, who sees your work skeptical, is party leader Alexander Gauland. You will not succeed in forging an alliance of like-minded people, he said in 2018. Europe is not America.
I agree with Dr. Gauland for one thousand percent.
His criticism did not annoy you?
Oh, not a bit. It’s like Trump and my work in the White House. I am completely insensitive to comments. Listen, I’m from a working-class family. My life is dedicated to working on this populist nationalist project. Worldwide. The reason why Trump and his financiers approached me 88 days before the election was his huge backlog. I understand our movement pretty well. I help where I can. And to Dr. Gauland: The alliance already exists. It’s the new Super Group. You know, I admire Doctor Gauland and Professor Meuthen. I find it fantastic what they have achieved with this party. I also met with Tino Chrupalla from Saxony. We have arranged that I will come back after the European elections and spend time with him in Saxony, probably in June. Maybe I can get involved in the campaign before the election in the fall.
Do you want to talk on Saxon marketplaces?
First of all, we will meet in his constituency.
Who is your most important contact in the AfD?
Professor Meuthen. But I’m talking to many people. On Saturday they invited me to this thing, unfortunately I could not.
You mean the “media conference” with Milo Yiannopoulos?
(Laughs) Yes, my former employee.
Not everyone in the AfD was happy about the performance.
It was a controversial decision. For some it is okay, for others not, especially so close to the election. Milo worked at Breitbart for me. He is exhausting.
Would you hire him again?
No! No chance.
In Germany, the AfD, but also many leftists, have a great fascination for Russia and a critical to negative attitude towards America. Can you understand that?
Depends on what criticism we speak. I am an American patriot. I served my country as a naval officer for eight years. My daughter is a Westpoint graduate who served in the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. And I was also a critic of the direction taken by the United States before Donald Trump took office. Behind it were not just Republicans and Democrats, but the permanent political class, the globalists, who are embedded in what I call the “Party of Davos”. These people are completely disconnected from normal, working Americans. If the alternative for Germany and others criticize this America, I can understand that well. Listen, Germany and America have been through a lot. We were strong allies, and we still are today. And Russia? Even in the toxic environment of Washington, I have always said: Russia is not the main enemy.
Who is the main opponent?
The totalitarian dictatorship in China. That is the existential threat of the West. The global elites do not want to admit that because they make a good living on China’s rise.
People closer to Russia than you would call the country a threat. Russian citizens who publicly question the power apparatus are risking their lives.
I did not say that Russia is not dangerous. He gave the last speech of Donald Trump I worked on in Warsaw in 2017. Since he has made it very provocative words that he would defend the West. But Russia’s economy is as big as that of the state of New York. The country is in a demographic death spiral. It does not produce advanced technologies. It’s a kleptocracy led by evil guys. It has many weapons and causes trouble in different parts of the world. Still, the threat situation today is very different from the 1980s when I worked at the Pentagon. No one has to fear today that Russian tanks are rolling over the North German lowlands. We just have to take Russia for what it is. It would have been a start if Germany had not concluded this gas deal.
You mean Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline that is being built. Richard Grenell, the American ambassador to Germany, is putting a lot of pressure on the project not being completed and put into operation.
That is known. By the way, in Nord Stream 2, you have an ally in, as you would dubiously say, establishment. Manfred Weber, the leading candidate of the European People’s Party, also wants to stop the pipeline. Would not he be the right partner for you?
It’s not just about a project. But to be clear, the United States does not want protectorates, we want allies. We are not an imperial power, we are a revolutionary power. We have renounced the greatest empire in the world. Our founding fathers have always warned against becoming an empire. Under the permanent political class, which is at home in both parties of our country, the imperial position has spread. So all these bad decisions came about in the Middle East. Under Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush, the United States has intervened everywhere. Trump’s voters and the “deplorables” reject that, and they are not isolationists. Our partners in NATO should make their own decisions. All we say about this gas deal is that there is an alternative. If Germany is so afraid of Russia, it should not be dependent.
Europe, despite the many quarrels, has been at peace for many years. What is the main reason for this in your eyes?
The most important was certainly the cooperation between the United States, Great Britain and Germany in the early eighties. Perhaps you are too young to remember: Millions of people took to the streets to protest against the deployment of Pershing II missiles in Europe. The debates were ten times as intense as they are today. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were attacked every day. What happened? Successful economic warfare. We raised defense budgets because we knew that the Soviet Union would not compete. The CIA predicted that the country would collapse in fifty years. It took eight years.
Can it be that Europe today is more complicated than it was back then? In your world, there are only evil globalists who do not care about the citizens, and brave nationalists who implement the will of the citizens.
Good framing.
Maybe in the United States. In Europe, politics and the legal system work differently. There are more political actors: from the very right to the very left, from liberal to green. In Germany, some already talk about a green chancellor.
What do you think about what AOC (editor’s note: the young Democratic Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and the re-awakened left in America are? These are our Greens. They admit that they are leading their party in a completely different direction. At the center is the Green New Deal, which is much more radical than your green party in Germany.
Do you know what “Fridays for Future” stands for?
These are the young people protesting every week.
What do you make of it? The topic of environmental protection is taking up more and more space. And your camp, the right camp, has not much to say yet.
This movement has a theological aspect; the whole thing is not just rational. There is a reasonable counter-position, and that is not to deny climate change. We need to think about how our economies can change in terms of CO2 emissions. This can be done rationally, market-based and based on scientific findings. Or emotional. But you have to take such movements seriously. I also said that “Time’s Up” is a challenge. Their anti-Trump message was simple: “orange man bad”. But she has motivated many women to vote in the United States in 2018. “Fridays for Future” will also be such a factor in Europe.
What do you advise your camp: ignore, attack or hug?
You have to take care of the topic. I would tell people that a nation-state can govern environmental protection with transparency and clear responsibilities – quite different from transnational institutions. The Paris Climate Agreement is, as we said, a catastrophe because it allows China to cheat and dump the costs of those who can least afford it.
Then we talk about the land that causes you so much grief. Are you satisfied with the trade talks your former boss is currently having with the representatives of the People’s Republic of China?
This is not about a trade deal. It’s about a truce in an economic war. Trump won the election because he recognized that. Migration has not been the crucial issue in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio or Pennsylvania. It was important. But more important was the question of where the jobs have gone. Germany faces the same question. China’s chip design, robotics and artificial intelligence are the coffin nail of German engineering. By 2025, everything will be “made in China”. The German robotics have incorporated themselves with forced technology transfers, with theft and through company purchases. The globalists all pretend that China’s rise is something like the second law of thermodynamics. A law of nature. Wait.
China resists American supervision of its economy. Why? It has become powerful enough.
That’s what you say, sir! We’ll see. China’s lobbyists are in the City of London and Wall Street. Why? I was at Harvard Business School, I know the bill: if you outsource your production from America or Germany to China, you have higher margins thanks to the slave laborers there. That may work. But it is completely wrong.
Slave labor? China today has a large middle class.
China is a totalitarian dictatorship with concentration camps and total surveillance. And the members of the Davos party behave like cheerleaders. Repulsive.
Could what you call economic warfare become a real war?
The last thing anyone wants is war in the South China Sea. But China is provocatively churning. They built these artificial islands against all international treaties. $ 5 trillion worth of merchandise is transported every year. It’s the supply route to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, all the democracies there.
Classic big power politics. The United States does nothing else on its doorstep.
No, no, stop! I was stationed as a young naval officer in the South China Sea. Our mission at that time was basically the same as that of the Berlin Airlift. It was about safe passage and free navigation for all, including the Chinese Communists. The South China Sea was the main waterway between the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. No boat was stopped. If so, then it was against pirates. And what has happened in the past twenty years, what have the Obama administration and Joe Biden allowed? They built these islands, which are ultimately stationary aircraft carriers, and then they raised a territorial claim to the sea. That shows how aggressive and ambitious they are.
You summarized your criticism of China a few days ago in a guest post for the Washington Post. The text reads like a strategic memo. In the end, you advise Trump to stay firm and follow his instincts. Are you missing the White House?
Not at all. I could not do that anymore. I gave a year of my life because I knew we would win: August 2016 to August 2017. I was at a Catholic school, in the Navy and at Goldman Sachs. I do not need hierarchies anymore. If I want, I can get on the plane tomorrow and fly wherever I want. I had a great time in the White House. We have achieved a lot. But I’m just not an employee.
Are you and the president still talking to each other?
No, not since the investigation. That’s also known. He recently said in an interview with Politico that he likes me and that I am his best defender.
What would you say if Donald Trump called you before the next presidential election and said, “Steve, I need you!”
The highest priority in my life is that Donald Trump be re-elected in 2020. This is absolutely existential, for the United States and for the West. And the best place to help is where I am now: outside.
You are 65 years old, rich and have no job. What’s next?
I will continue. Our movement is growing, in Europe, in Asia, in Latin America. And once people are in power, it’s about how best to govern. The key is the economy. If Trump failed to show growth of 3.2 percent and low unemployment, they would bite his head. You need growth. But as I said, we are just beginning. This movement is designed for decades. I will not be there all the time, but for a long time.
How is history to judge Steve Bannon?
She’s supposed to remember me as someone who’s been one hundred percent committed to the little man.

Steve Bannon: There is ‘no chance’ Trump is going to back down in the China trade war

There is “no chance” President Donald Trump will back down in the U.S. trade war with China, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon told CNBC on Wednesday.

“China has been running an economic war against the industrial democracies for now 20 years,” said the hardline ex-White House chief strategist, who helped craft Trump’s nationalist message.

Bannon said previous presidents — Bill ClintonGeorge W. Bush and Barack Obama — passed the buck on addressing and fixing the problems of China’s protectionist economy. But Trump is not shying away from the fight, he added.

“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,” Bannon said in the “Squawk Box” interview.

Under Trump, Washington has taken a tougher stance on China than his recent predecessors. In addition to disputes around trade and the alleged Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property, American intelligence chiefs expressed their distrust of Chinese tech giant Huawei and Chinese telecom company ZTE.

The standoff with China “cuts to the core of what the United States is going to be in the future,” Bannon said. “With ‘Made in China 2025,’ ‘one belt-one road,’ and Huawei’s 5G rollout, this is a master plan to become an economic hegemon, ” he added, referring to Chinese policies on its economy and trade.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said the Chinese stock market and economy have suffered more than those in the U.S. from the tariff fight, and will continue to bear the brunt. On Wednesday, China reported surprisingly weaker growth in retail sales and industrial output for April, adding pressure on Beijing to roll out more stimulus as the trade war with the United States escalates.

“We have all the cards,” Bannon said. “The Chinese business model cannot continue. It won’t continue.”

For its part, China’s Communist Party has remained defiant, putting out a rallying cry in state media.

The deal that Trump has said China backed out of was not really about trade, Bannon said. “They refused and basically walked away from the deal because they understood that they’ve been running an economic war in this. And this is not a trade deal. This is a truce in an economic war, an armistice so to speak, and that they weren’t prepared to do it.”

With trade talks at a stalemate, the U.S. is considering putting tariffs on the remaining billions and billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods coming into the U.S. Last week, the Trump administration followed through on its threat and increased duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese products from 10% to 25%. On Monday, in retaliation, China announced plans to raise tariffs, some to as high as 25%, on $60 billion in U.S. goods.

Trump’s tweets and tough public rhetoric aside, negotiators for both sides — led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and China Vice Premier Liu He — need to get behind closed doors, “take the heat down” and work hard on getting an agreement, Bannon said. “This is not going to take place overnight.”

Addressing a question about whether the Chinese would have rather negotiated with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin than China-hawk Lighthizer, Bannon praised Lighthizer. “There is no gap between Lighthizer and President Trump.”

Since May 5, when Trump surprised investors with tweets threatening higher tariffs on China, the S&P 500 had lost about $1.1 trillion in value — the type of decline that if it were to persist could put a real drag on U.S. economic growth. The index made some of that back with Tuesday’s nearly 1% recovery after Monday’s 2.4% decline. Despite the knock from trade concerns, the S&P 500 was still only 4% away from its May 1 all-time intraday high as of Tuesday’s close, and up more than 20% since the 2018 low on Christmas Eve.

The China dispute certainly makes for strange bedfellows, with Trump facing calls from allies on Wall Street and free-trade conservatives to reach a deal. U.S. stocks opened lower Wednesday. Meanwhile, Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are urging the president to extract the most concessions possible from China.

Bannon, a Goldman Sachs alum who became a proponent of nationalism, said he believes the China issue will frame the 2020 presidential campaign in favor of Trump. “This is history in real time. This is the most significant thing that any president can possibly do,” he said, adding that Trump won’t bow to the pressure and make a superficial agreement that doesn’t address all the ways Beijing is cheating economically.

On Tuesday evening, former Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein was on the same wavelength as Bannon, tweeting, “Tariffs might be an effective negotiating tool.”

— CNBC digital correspondent in Singapore Yen Nee Lee and Reuters contributed to this report.

WSJ: Lighthizer Says China ‘Reneging’ on Trade-Talk Commitments

WSJ: Lighthizer Says China ‘Reneging’ on Trade-Talk Commitments

U.S. trade representative says U.S. to raise tariffs to 25% on $200 billion in Chinese goods

By William Mauldin Updated May 6, 2019 5:25 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Top U.S. officials accused Chinese officials of backtracking in high-stakes trade talks Monday and said $200 billion in Chinese goods will face higher tariffs starting Friday.

“Over the course of the last week or so, we’ve seen an erosion in commitments by China, I would say retreating from commitments that have already been made, in our judgment,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters in Washington.

Mr. Lighthizer said the administration would formalize a long-delayed increase in tariffs on $200 billion of goods to 25% from 10%, effective Friday. The comments from Mr. Lighthizer, who was joined by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, echoed a tweet from President Trump on Sunday accusing China of trying to “renegotiate” and warning of raising the tariffs.

Mr. Lighthizer said he expected to continue with talks with Chinese counterparts in Washington on Thursday and Friday. That would mark a delay from previous expectations of a round set to start Wednesday—one that many observers hoped would yield a deal.

Mr. Mnuchin said while some concerns arose last week when he and Mr. Lighthizer were in Beijing for talks, they received some reassurances. Then, over the weekend, the talks went “substantially backward,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

Some observers thought Mr. Trump’s tweet Sunday was an effort to put more pressure on China to achieve a better deal. Yet the briefing from Messrs. Mnuchin and Lighthizer made it clear there are deep concerns about the direction of the talks.

The senior officials declined to specify areas where they think the Chinese side backtracked. “There was concern about the form of the agreement and a redrafting of it” that would pull back from important commitments, Mr. Lighthizer said.

A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the talks Monday.

(More to come)

Steve Bannon and Kyle Bass accuse Wall Street of ‘funding’ China’s fight with the US

CNBC – Building on Bannon’s argument, Bass — a known China bear, who is also the founder and chief investment officer of Hayman Capital Management — claimed that large American companies are the ones pushing U.S. President Donald Trump to conclude a trade deal with China.

The U.S. and China, the two largest economies in the world, were engaged in a tariff fight that threatened to derail global economic growth. Both sides have held back further tariff hikes in a bid to negotiate a trade deal.

“If you look behind the scenes, it is corporate America pushing Trump to do a deal. And it is the corporate American chieftains that have their biggest businesses, let’s say most growth, coming out of China. And China plays that card. They play it better than anybody else,” Bass told CNBC’s Sullivan.

“They open a market to very specific people to basically court influence with that person and going … into the presidential office to actually change policy,” said Bass.‘No hope of coexistence with China’

The Committee on the Present Danger was first established in the 1950s — during the cold war era — to warn President Harry Truman’s administration of the influence of communism in the U.S. The committee’s latest focus on China is its fourth iteration.

In addition to Bannon and Bass, other members of the group include fervent supporters of Trump, fellows from conservative think tanks, and former defense and intelligence officials.

Under Trump, Washington has taken a tougher stance on China compared to previous administrations. In addition to issues surrounding trade, American intelligence chiefs expressed their distrust of Chinese tech giant Huawei — and a rival of Apple – and Chinese telecom company ZTE.

But the committee appeared to advocate a more extreme take on China compared to the Trump administration. In its guiding principles posted on its website, the committee said: “There is no hope of coexistence with China as long as the Communist Party governs the country.”

When asked if he would tell U.S. companies to stop doing business in China, Bannon replied: “No. What you do is you back President Trump.”

“We have a whole of government approach to really confront China on this economic war. This has never happened,” he added.


Trump’s former advisor, Stephen K. Bannon, fights with famous hedge funds

Trump’s former advisor, Stephen K. Bannon, fights with famous hedge funds

[New York-Takenori Miyamoto] Former US President Trump’s aide, chief strategic officer Stephen Bannon, held a lecture to criticize the Chinese Communist Party on the 25th with the founder of hedge fund founder Kyle Bass. It calls on the US administration to take a tough stance in US-China trade talks. He argued that “the Communist Party is a lobbying organization,” aiming for criticism against the US Wall Street and the US industry, which urges an early agreement.

Mr. Bannon, who was said to be “support for his thought” by President Trump, repeated confrontation with other administration officials and left the White House in August 2017. Currently, in addition to supporting European populism (popularism) powers, he is actively promoting activities such as the launch of a new group that calls on the threat of the Chinese Communist Party. About 100 people gathered at the lecture that the group opened on the 25th, and the US media reported on the situation, indicating the height of interest.

The highlight of the day was the fact that Kyle Bass, founder of Hayman Capital Management, a leading hedge fund based in Dallas, Texas, showed a stance of “fighting” with Mr. Banon. With the collapse of the US housing bubble and the European debt crisis, it has quickly become famous in the fund industry. It is also known for a while that he has advocated “the collapse of Japan”, and recently targeted China. In the lecture, he warned, “This is an unprecedented accumulation of debt in the history of the world.”

Mr. Bannon and Mr. Bass oppose the Trump administration’s rapid settlement with China without resolving institutional issues such as China’s foreign capital restrictions and inadequate intellectual property protection. In the lecture, the Chinese Communist Party seems to want to enliven China’s threat theory by piling up the former Soviet Union. The US financial sector and industry fear that the global economy will slow down due to bargaining negotiations, and they have urged the White House to conclude the negotiations, but Bannon and others have held back such a move.


Stephen K. Bannon’s Italian Monastery

Stephen K. Bannon’s Italian Monastery

Thursday, April 25, 2019

“He is the smartest guy in Rome. He’s always a tough guy. He comes across as a monk, but he’s actually a very tough guy.” —American businessman and political strategist Steve Bannon, on British Catholic political activist Benjamin Harnwell, head of theDignitatis Humanae Institute in Rome. The Institute has received permission from Italian authorities to take over a nearly abandoned 1,000-year-old Carthusian monastery in the town of Trisulti, about 100 miles south of Rome, and — to the consternation of many — turn it into a center for a conservative political and cultural movement in Europe. Bannon, formerly a top advisor to US President Donald Trump, is helping to publicize and support the monastery project. Critics of the initiative say it aims to “destroy Europe” by stressing “national identity” over against the idea of a “united Europe”

“Trisulti will be the home of a number of projects that underscore the fact that man is made in the image and likeness of God, and that recognition of the imago Dei is the cornerstone of the Judaeo-Christian foundations of Western Civilization.” —Benjamin Harnwell


Summary Note: A controversial project in central Italy involving Steve Bannon, formerly a close advisor of US President Donald Trump, aims to restore a nearly abandoned Carthusian monastery and to make it the center of a political and cultural movement in Europe.

The project attracted considerable attention in recent months, most recently in a bitterly negative opinion piece in the Israeli journal, Haaretz, on April 22, three days ago. This Haaretz article moved me to gather the material for this email.

The general effect of the coverage by many media outlets has been to raise the profile of the project to a global level even before its actual launch. There are many obstacles to transforming a medieval monastery into a modern school or cultural center, including lighting, toilets and showers, and the project’s leaders have said that these issues have not yet been fully assessed or solved.

The Letter below attempts to give a sampling, a “Dossier,” on the coverage of this project over the past two years in an effort to provide background material for readers.

The monastery of Trisulti in collepardo, near Frosinone, in central Italy south of Rome. It was consecrated in 1211, more than 800 years ago

The history of the monastery

Trisulti Charterhouse (Italian: Certosa di Trisulti) is a former Carthusian monastery or charterhouse, in Collepardo, province of Frosinone, central Italy. It is located on the slopes of Monte Rotonaria, a peak of the Monti Ernici, at 825 meters above the sea level. It was consecrated in 1211, becoming a national monument in 1873.

In 1947, the monastery was taken over by the Cistercian Congregation of Casamari Abbey and continues as a Cistercian monastery. However, in recent years only two elderly monks have been living at the monastery.

A first Benedictine abbey was founded in the site in 996 by St. Dominic Abbot, not far from the current building, which was erected starting in 1204 by order of Pope Innocent III, who assigned it to the Carthusians. The abbey church, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, was consecrated in 1211.

The name Trisulti may derive from Latin tres saltibus, meaning “at the three jumps”: this was the name of a castle of the baronial Colonna family which commanded the three passes (“jumps”) leading to Abruzzo, Rome and Ciociaria.

The former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, announced in 2018 plans to establish an academy in the charterhouse.

Dossier: Six Articles

Below are six articles which contain information and judgments about the Trisulti project. Together, they may provide a useful dossier of background information to begin to understand and assess the project. 

(1) Introductory material from the Trisulti project website, February 14, 2018

(2) Article from Haaretz, April 22, 2019

(3) Article from Reuters, September 18, 2018

(4) Article from the Daily Beast, June 20, 2018

(5) Article from CBS News, September 7, 2017

(6) Article from Crux, February 13, 2017

Six articles on the Trisulti project

(1) Introductory material from the project website (link)

Rome, 14 February 2018 (Ash Wednesday)

The Dignitatis Humanae Institute today signed a pioneering accord with the Italian Ministry for Culture to become the official Leaseholder of the historic Abbey of Trisulti, National Monument of Italy since 1873.

The original abbey, whose ruins still stand nearby, was founded by St. Dominic of Foligno in AD 987. Pope Innocent III ordered the current structure built in 1204 in honour of the Virgin Mary, whose first of numerous apparitions at the grotto beneath Trisulti was to a pious ascetic hermit sometime in the first half of the Sixth Century. This apparition was well-noted at the time because it was accompanied by two miraculous signs — an imagine of the Madonna in a stalactite (of which only the face remains conserved), and a spring of water which still runs to this day.

Innocent’s strong devotion to this apparition long preceded his election as Pope, and his papal summer palace is the building that today houses the National Library of Trisulti, which contains some 38,000 volumes and 35,000 ecclesiastical documents. Pope Innocent paid for the construction of the abbey from both his own pocket and Vatican funds, and he personally consecrated the new monastery in 1211. Trisulti, which was then part of the Papal States, was also under the protection of the Holy Roman Emperor from the time of Frederic II onwards. Bulls of Innocent and Frederic (as well as of Pope Boniface VIII) are conserved in the Library.

The abbey itself is situated 50 miles south-east of Rome in the Apennine mountains, at 850 metres above sea-level, surrounded by thousands of acres of protected centuries-old oak forest.

Presiding Abbot of the Cistercian Congregation of Casamari, Dom Eugenio Romagnuolo O.Cist. — of the outgoing community — is an active member of the DHI’s Board of Trustees, thus ensuring continuity with the past as Trisulti goes forward into the future under its new leadership.

H.E. Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, Honorary President of the DHI, said: “I would like to thank Caterina Bon Valsassina and her colleagues on the Adjudicating Commission at the Ministry for Culture for their competence and diligence with which they have performed their difficult task, and we are proud and honoured to have been selected. I would also like to thank Minister Dario Franceschini for his pioneering policy of cooperation between the Ministry and private institutions for the greater promotion of the common good.”

DHI Board Member Mgr. Roberto de Odorico added: “I warmly look forward in the years ahead to the DHI’s working closely with the competent authorities to ensure the preservation of this historic patrimony of Italy — and indeed of the whole world.”

DHI Board Member Abbot Eugenio Romagnuolo said: “I am truly delighted that after many years of planning and preparation, the DHI is embarking on this exciting new chapter in its development. The DHI has a massive plan of renewal and regeneration for Trisulti, whose monastic history goes back a thousand years.”

Benjamin Harnwell, President of the Board of Trustees, said: “Trisulti will be the home of a number of projects that underscore the fact that man is made in the image and likeness of God, and that the recognition of the imago Dei is the cornerstone of the Judaeo-Christian foundations of Western Civilisation. We are praying for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary — whose connection to Trisulti goes back one and a half thousand years — over this new chapter in our mission as we go forward.”


(2) Opinion article from Haaretz, April 22, 2019 (link)



Steve Bannon’s Fascist Far Right Christian Army Is Marching on Liberal Europe — and on the Pope

Bannon thinks he’s Europe’s savior. He’s also a narcissist, spinmeister and provocateur. But we shouldn’t dismiss his coalition-building efforts to radicalize Europe, empower the far right and declare holy war on the Vatican

By Alexander Reid Ross 

April 22, 2019

Steve Bannon is trying to take his far right populist provocations to victory in Europe’s ballot boxes — and to win Europeans’ souls. Hard right, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-abortion, Christian traditionalist souls susceptible to cheap anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim dogwhistles, that is.  

Derided by Trump and alienated from sectors of his party, Bannon will likely never again serve as a public face of Republican strategy, but has instead become an eminence gris whose influence many will conveniently disavow. Regardless, he is pushing his Trump-style nationalist and race-baiting victory strategy to its next logical battlefield.

Bannon has called the Christian right a fundamental “layer” in Trumpism, and has worked to develop an international system through which the religious right can gain hegemony.

Five years ago, he laced his comments to a group of reactionary Catholics in the Vatican with references to known fascists, and spoke in apocalyptic terms. 

He called on “the Church militant” to “fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting that will literally eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000 and 2,500 years.” 

He spelled out the necessity of a global far right Christian coalition against the evils of socialism, atheism and Islam: “We are at the very beginning stages of a global conflict. If we do not bind together as partners, with others in other countries…[then] this conflict is only going to metastasize.” 

Last month, the same coterie convened in Verona for the World Congress of Families to rally a global movement against LGBQTI rights, abortion, and immigration. Tellingly, their meeting included members of the fascist Forza Nuova party, which also marched in support in the streets outside of the meeting.

Bannon’s “vision” requires not only attacking the democratic systems of nation-states in Europe and but also transnational power centers that show insufficient commitment to hard right values, such as shutting Europe’s doors to immigration — including the Pope.

In a 2016 meeting with Italy’s now deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, Bannon reportedly opined that “the pope is a sort of enemy. [Bannon] suggested for sure to attack, frontally.” 

After that meeting Salvini was photographed holding up a T-shirt emblazoned with the words: “Benedict [the former arch-traditionalist pope] is my pope.”

Bannon’s seeding this far-right insurrection against the papacy by allying with Francis critics both within Catholicism and outside, building effectively a cross-denominational Christian traditionalist front. And he might be winning.

One of the trustees of his institute is an outspoken critic of the current Pope and ex-Breitbart contributor, Austin Ruse, who’s also an official of the World Congress of Families, the coalition of far-right, anti-gay Christian groups meeting in Verona that is backed by Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian ultra-nationalist oligarch close to Vladimir Putin.

The Bannon anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda has strong backing from within the Vatican, not least in the person of Robert Sarah, an African cardinal who’s a traditionalist favorite to succeed Pope Francis. His rhetoric in 2019 almost precisely tracks the language Bannon employed in his own speech at the Vatican in 2014.

He (Cardinal Sarah) told a French paper recently: “If the West continues in this fatal way, [accepting mass immigration] there is a great risk that, due to a lack of birth, it will disappear, invaded by foreigners, just as Rome has been invaded by barbarians… This current desire to globalize the world by suppressing nations, specificities, is pure madness…If Europe disappears, and with it the invaluable [Christian] values of the old continent, Islam will invade the world.” 

It seems that Pope Francis may already be feeling the anti-immigrant heat. In his Easter message, he unexpectedly called for the international community to return refugees to Syria.

In tandem, Bannon is deepening his political efforts, which he calls The Movement, to swing Europe to the right, with one test being the upcoming EU elections.

For Bannon, organizing populist parties is “no different from Goldman Sachs” or when he started his own financial services firm — “it’s just a different conference room.” That’s the story, at least, that he fed Alison Klayman in her documentary The Brink, which followed Bannon from the aftermath of the disastrous 2017 alt-right protest in Charlottesville to the beginning of 2019.

The Brink sheds light on a strategy of collaboration across the far right that, by Bannon’s own admission, openly exploits anger and resentment. While identified as “populism” for its emotive appeals, Bannon’s strategy is forged in expensive hotels, in conversations with former Goldman Sachs head John Thornton, on private jets, and in the mansions of billionaires.

The guestlists for his exclusive dinners include members of Vlaams Belang, a repackaged version of the Flemish fascist party Vlaams Blok, and the most extreme elements of the far-right Sweden Democrats.

While Bannon’s proximity to far-right parties like the rebranded French Front National, now known as the National Rally, and Italy’s League indicate an identification with ostensibly non-fascist parties, his travels among the ranks of fascists indicate that his “populist” strategy involves incorporation of a vanguardist approach that deploys fascism for particular purposes.

Bannon’s long-time ally, the UK’s Nigel Farage, may be, after Salvini, the clearest beneficiary of Bannonism. Farage, once head of the pro-Brexit and virulently anti-EU and anti-immigrant UKIP party, has founded a new Brexit Party in advance of the EU elections.

Bannon was a key figure in dark-money funding and messaging the anti-EU Brexit campaign that Farage spearheaded, a role that Farage himself openly acknowledged and that is documented in a scene in The Brinkbetween the two. 

It’s easy to turn a blind eye to fascism, even when it is right under your nose. Nigel Farage in conversation about funding and forming an international movement with Donald Trump’s white supremacist former adviser, Steve Bannon. Chilling #everydayfascism

Farage for his part isn’t shy about paying Bannon back: He’s called him the “greatest political thinker and activist in the Western world today.” 

Bannon is seen offering tangible support to groups like the Sweden Democrats and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, reassuring them that “we do actually control the government.” Later in the film, a figure from the Marine Le Pen-led National Rally insists that Bannon is “quite discrete in the way he helps. ‘I have these tools, you want them [or] don’t want them.’” 

The National Rally just announced it had formally joined a new pre-EU elections alliance of far-right forces in Europe spearheaded by Italy’s Salvini, to which Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far right party with neo-National Socialist links, and Austria’s Freedom Party, which has National Socialist roots. 

How does Bannon intend to widen the circle of provocateurs, entryists and far-right activists who are au fait with those tools and how to use them?

One way is Bannon’s establishment of what he terms the “Academy for the Judeo-Christian West” in an old Italian monastery he intends to repurpose as a “gladiator school for culture warriors.” As he commented on its curriculum: “Will we teach the underpinnings of populism and nationalism? Yeah, absolutely. But also a broader range of stuff. The trends of where we think the world is going.” 

Steve Bannon, former WH Advisor, has leased a monastery in Italy for 20 years where he plans to create Christian Nationalist Training Camp for “Christian Warriors” to fight against other religions including Islam and Judaism. 

Not a book. Real life.

It is difficult of course to gauge the extent to which Bannon and his populists have aided the rise of the international far right. He’s hardly the only American right-winger so deeply committed to their resurgence.

As the World Congress of Families convened in Verona, Open Democracy released an expose showing millions of dollars flowing from U.S. evangelicals to European right-wing religious groups connected to populist radical right parties over the years. Stateside, his name seems to be achieving diminishing returns: his assistance to Republican contenders during the mid-term elections went bust.

The trans-Atlantic movement Bannon now represents, no matter how awkwardly or how much as a result of his own PR, dovetails globally with other right-wing populists, especially those who benefit from crucial support from right-wing evangelicals.

Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro’s son was photographed with Bannon during the election campaign that ushered his father into power, and his foreign minister Ernesto Araújo wrote an extensive tract citing Bannon and Russian fascist ideologue Alexander Dugin as important geopolitical reference points in the “multipolar world.” Araújo has since glorified the “authentic national sentiment” of the Nazi Party.

In The Brink, Bannon makes scattered references to a “global revolt” that will stitch together the “guys in Egypt,” Modi’s people in India, and Orban in Hungary. He posits a China-Iran-Turkey axis as a rising global power, and hopes to thwart Chinese hegemony with the support of billionaire fugitive Guo Wengui.

The name conspicuously absent from the film is Vladimir Putin, whose role in shaping the world-system that Bannon hopes to achieve — and would be its principal beneficiary — remains critical.

Given recent indicators, such as the far-right’s performance in elections from Belgium to Finland and the Pope’s Easter declaration, Bannon’s dream of “defeating the EU” by Europeans voting to destroy it and plunge the continent further into illiberal democracy may come to fruition sooner than even he dreamed possible, irrespective of his own efforts.

Bannon is a mass of contradictions, a self-marketeer supreme and narcissist whose grandiose visions are often mirages or spin.

He is a counter-revolutionary who considers himself a constituent part of a new French Revolution, a Catholic who targets the Pope, a purported populist who believes nothing can be accomplished without control over the government’s appropriations process, and a widely detested figure who believes he has his finger on the pulse of the “zeitgeist.”

He is part of an ecosystem of far-right inciters and grifters who see themselves both as running the world and fighting a courageous uphill battle to take power. But he’s helping Europe’s far right decant its tired formulas into new bottles for popular consumption. 

In one telling scene in The Brink, Bannon sits in an expensive Venetian hotel with a representative of the Brothers of Italy, a “post-fascist” successor to Mussolini’s Italian Social Movement. Guardianassociate editor Paul Lewis tells Bannon that he had previously called the Brothers a “neo-fascist” party. Bannon responds with a bromide to the effect of, “I don’t think I ever said anything like that.”

In fact, in a 2018 Guardian interview, Bannon had called the Brothers, hardly disparagingly, “one of the old fascist parties,” and went on: “We’re partnering with parties that are going to become quite mainstream, over time.”

To credit Bannon alone with the incremental successes of the European far right’s political and religious crusade would be internalizing his own narrative as the continent’s great savior; but there’s no doubt he’s helped birth a new, and threatening, spirit of transnational co-operation, funding, and incitement to a neo-fascist spectrum from America to the Old World.

Alexander Reid Ross is a Lecturer in Geography at Portland State University. He is the author of Against the Fascist Creep (AK Press, 2017). Twitter: @areidross


(3) Article from Reuters, September 18, 2018 (link)



SEPTEMBER 14, 2018

Steve Bannon drafting curriculum for right-wing Catholic institute in Italy

By Mark Hosenball

(Reuters) – Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon is helping to craft the curriculum for a leadership course at a right-wing Roman Catholic institute in Italy, stepping up his efforts to influence conservative thinking in the church.]

Benjamin Harnwell, director of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute based in a mountaintop monastery not far from Rome, told Reuters Bannon had been helping to build up the institute for about half of its eight-year life.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading Vatican conservative who is president of the Institute’s board of advisers, said Bannon would be playing a leading role there.

Burke told Reuters he looked forward to working with Harnwell and Bannon “to promote a number of projects that should make a decisive contribution to the defense of what used to be called Christendom”.

Bannon’s increased engagement with the Institute demonstrates how his involvement in Europe extends beyond electoral politics to an effort to build a populist faction inside the Catholic Church.

Bannon told Reuters this week that after Nov. 6 (2018) Congressional elections in the United States, he will spend “80-90 percent” of his time in Europe building up his Brussels-based populist “Movement”.

Bannon, who has visited the Institute’s home at the 800-year-old Monastery of Trisulti and addressed the organization by video link, is helping to draw up the coursework for a training program for conservative Catholic political activists and leaders, Harnwell said.

Bannon is also raising funds for the institute in both Europe and the United States, he added. The institute has set “very high academic standards”, Harnwell said.

Harnwell, a former European Parliament staffer, also is advising Bannon on his campaign to build a populist Movement across Europe that will support far-right parties in next year’s European Parliament elections, he and Bannon said.

Bannon and the Vatican did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story.


Harnwell said he founded the institute while working as an aide to a British Conservative European Parliament member. At the time, one of the legislature’s committees was trying to block Rocco Buttiglione, a confidant of Pope John Paul II, from becoming European Commissioner for justice and security.

During a confirmation hearing, Buttiglione, who was nominated to the European Commission by then-Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, described homosexuality as a sin and said the principal role of women was to have children. Amid political uproar, Buttiglione withdrew from consideration for the Commission.

Harnwell said Buttiglione was a “founding patron” of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, whose mission he described as “defending the Judeo-Christian tradition” and promoting “human dignity based on the image of God”. Harnwell added: “If you don’t have a culture of religious principle, we no longer have a credible basis for life.”

Buttiglione, who described himself as a convinced pro-European, said there were some differences between him and Harnwell. “I am interested in a cultural dialogue with the so-called Populists but I am not one of them and, first and foremost, I am a Catholic and I stand by the pope,” he said in statement to Reuters.

Harnwell said the Institute was setting up two training programs: a leadership course that Bannon is helping to design, which Harnwell described a an “academy for the Judeo-Christian West”, and the Cardinal Martino Academy, named after a former papal ambassador to the United Nations, which will promote pro-life Catholic social teachings.


Bannon, a rabble-rousing conservative media entrepreneur and activist popular with Trump’s base, was fired from the White House a year ago, but the former adviser remained a Trump ally.

Bannon returned to the right-wing Breitbart News website, which he had headed before running Trump’s presidential campaign. In January, Bannon quit as Breitbart’s executive chairman after angering Trump by harshly criticizing his eldest son.

Leaving Breitbart threatened Bannon’s dream of leading a new political movement that supports his “America First” agenda of tougher trade deals and immigration laws.

Harnwell said the Institute expects to present its first courses next year. The monastery is large enough to accommodate 250-300 students at a time.

Burke, the former Archbishop of St. Louis, has been a leading light at the Institute since 2013 and is an outspoken critic of some policies of Pope Francis.

Since Francis’ election in 2013, Burke has led the charge by conservatives who have sharply criticized the pope, saying he has left many faithful confused by pronouncements that the church should be more welcoming to homosexuals and divorced Catholics and not be obsessed by “culture war” issues such as abortion.

Burke is president of the Institute’s “advisory board”, Harnwell said. The cardinal has condemned Islam as a threat to the West, a position that strongly parallels one of the principal political campaign themes of both Bannon and Trump.

In 2014, Pope Francis removed Burke as chief of the Vatican’s Supreme Court, the Apostolic Signatura, and demoted him to become patron of the Order of Malta, a charitable organization.

Bannon is in “communication” regularly with Burke, although Harnwell acknowledges that the three-times divorced Bannon “doesn’t pretend to be a model Catholic”. Harnwell said the institute itself “takes no view on the pope” or his policies.

Burke has met several times with Matteo Salvini, Italy’s far-right deputy prime minister, Harnwell said. Earlier this summer, Salvini ordered Italian ports to stop allowing landings of ships carrying refugees fleeing Middle East strife.

After meeting Bannon in Rome last weekend, Salvini announced that he was joining the populist Movement Bannon was setting up aimed at disrupting the European Union.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Additional reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Giles Elgood

© 2019 Reuters. All Rights Reserved.


(4) Article from the Daily Beast, June 20, 2018 (link)


Steve Bannon, Cardinal Burke, Minister Salvini, and the Plot to Take Down Pope Francis

A trio of conservative henchmen are now working closely with each other against the pontiff’s efforts to defend human rights and equality—even on World Refugee Day.

By Barbie Latza Nadeau

June 20, 2018

ROME—It sounds almost like a lame joke. A former Trump strategist, a conservative cardinal with a penchant for fancy ceremonial gowns, and a far-right xenophobe walk into a bar in Rome. In this case, the Trump strategist is Steve Bannon, the conservative cardinal is American Raymond Burke, and the xenophobe is Italy’s new interior minister Matteo Salvini. No, they aren’t in a bar, but they are conspiring against one man, Pope Francis, on the issue most dear to him: immigration.

It is no secret that Francis, whose first ever apostolic voyage was to the Italian island of Lampedusa to give support to the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have crashed onto the shores there, supports an open-border policy. He has celebrated mass on the Mexican border with the United States, and he has warned world leaders to prioritize the acceptance of migrants over national security concerns and to avoid “discrimination, racism, extreme nationalism and xenophobia.”

In a series of statements ahead of World Refugee Day on Wednesday [June 14, 2018] Francis called for integration and acceptance, not borders and closed ports. “I hope that the states involved in these processes reach an understanding to assure, with responsibility and humanity, assistance to and the protection of those who are forced to flee their own country,” he said in one of his many messages to mark the occasion.

But the pope’s words have fallen on the deaf ears of many politicians, and sparked outrage from Bannon, Burke, and Salvini.

Bannon told ABC News this week that the Catholic Church was “one of the worst instigators of this open borders policy,” singling out Francis as the main reason for the migration crisis in Europe (which began long before Francis was elected in 2013). Bannon, who proclaims his own Catholic faith, previously has said the Catholic Church just needs “illegal aliens” to fill its pews.

When Bannon was in Rome in early June [2018] to celebrate Italy’s new populist government run by Salvini, Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio and their previously unknown puppet Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, he also took a side trip to the Trisulti monastery. It’s an 800-year-old gem of real estate a few hours from Rome being developed by Benjamin Harnwell, a conservative British Catholic with ties to UKIP, the party that built its reputation pushing for Brexit, as a bastion for right-wing-thinking types.

Harnwell runs the ultra-conservative and somewhat mysterious Catholic organization Dignitatis Humanae Institute which advertises that it was “founded to help Christian politicians defend their faith in the public square.” Harnwell runs a banner on his website with a quote from Bannon: “[Harnwell’s] the smartest guy in Rome. He’s always a tough guy. He comes across as a monk, but he’s actually a very tough guy.”

The monastery will host events with speakers like Bannon and Burke and conservative Christian leaders. “Trisulti will be the home of a number of projects that underscore the fact that man is made in the image and likeness of God, and that recognition of the imago Dei is the cornerstone of the Judaeo-Christian foundations of Western Civilization,” Harnwell, who did not respond to requests for an interview, is quoted as saying on his website.

Harnwell and his organization are an important connection between Bannon and Burke. Harnwell is the one who first introduced the two, according to a New York Times article that is displayed on Harnwell’s website. Bannon spoke at one of Harnwell’s’ conferences by grainy video link back in 2014 during which he warned that the migration exodus would lead to a rise in populism. Burke was the keynote speaker the year before.

Burke is one of the pope’s chief detractors, openly questioning Francis’ ability to run the church and campaigning for a lessening of papal powers. He has openly called Islam a threat as he supports tighter border controls in direct defiance of his boss, the pope, and he is a vocal supporter of American President Donald Trump, whom the pope has called un-Christian for wanting to build his wall.

The cardinal has been cultivating a relationship with Salvini, who visited him this week in Rome. The two had met several times before over their shared dislike of the current pontiff, albeit for different reasons. The fact that Salvini visited Burke, who is no longer the head of any congregation in the Curia, instead of Francis, whom he has openly criticized for inviting migrants to Italy, is lost on no one. And the photo of the two men smiling like Cheshire cats is at once creepy and worrying.

Salvini closed Italian ports to charity rescue ships earlier this month [June 2018], sending more than 600 people across high seas to Spain to prove his strength. He has now declared war on nomadic Roma people, calling for a physical survey of Roma camps to create a census from which he will essentially make a list of people to deport.

“Irregular foreigners will be deported via agreements with other countries,” he told an Italian television station this week. “But Italian Roma unfortunately we have to keep.”

It is no secret that Bannon has been a big fan of Salvini’s policies, calling them an example for the rest of the world. Salvini’s actions have also boosted his popularity at home, and a photo op with a cardinal like Burke speaks volumes about just whom he is trying to impress.

A recent survey showed his Lega party 2.2 percentage points higher than when his coalition government was inaugurated on June 1. His coalition party Five Star Movement lost 2.5 points in the same survey, in part because their base doesn’t agree with the hard line on migration.

Francis doesn’t agree either, but he is losing ground both here in Italy and abroad. He has been particularly vocal about migrant rights in recent days, both with regard to the closing of Italian ports and the separation of children from their families on the U.S.-Mexican border. “I would like to point out that the issue of migration is not simply one of numbers, but of persons, each with his or her own history, culture, feelings and aspirations,” Francis said this week. “These persons, our brothers and sisters, need ongoing protection, independently of whatever migrant status they may have.”

Paolo Gentiloni, Italy’s former center left prime minister accused Salvini of following the American model too closely, tweeting a sentiment that many moderates fear the most: “Yesterday refugees, today Roma, tomorrow guns for everyone.”

One might assume Francis is asking what Jesus would do for the good of humanity. It seems Bannon, Burke, and Salvini, worshippers of Trump, think they know better.

• Barbie Latza Nadeau



(5) Article from CBS News, September 7, 2017 (link)


September 7, 2017, 7:18 AM

Steve Bannon says Catholic Church has “economic interest” in “unlimited illegal immigration”

In his first extensive interview since leaving the Trump administration, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is speaking out about President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program. The Obama-era policy protects nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation.

Bannon spoke to Charlie Rose in an interview that will air this Sunday, Sept. 10, on “60 Minutes.”

Steve Bannon: Look, what he did on DACA the other day. Okay, I don’t agree with that DACA decision, but I understand how he struggled with it, I understand how he’s giving the possibility of a legislative thing. And he said even last night in a tweet – even in a tweet, he would rethink it. Trust me, the guys in the far right, the guys on the conservative side are not happy with this.

Charlie Rose: Can I remind you, a good Catholic, that Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan is opposed to what’s happened with DACA? Cardinal Dolan.

Bannon: The Catholic Church has been terrible about this.

Rose: Okay.

Bannon: The bishops have been terrible about this. By the way, you know why? You know why? Because unable to really – to – to – to come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. That’s – it’s obvious on the face of it. That’s what – the entire Catholic bishops condemn him. … They have – they have an economic interest. They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration. And as much as –

Rose: Boy, that’s a tough thing to say about your church.

Bannon: As much as I respect Cardinal Dolan and the bishops on doctrine, this is not doctrine. This is not doctrine at all. I totally respect the pope and I totally respect the Catholic bishops and cardinals on doctrine. This is not about doctrine. This is about the sovereignty of a nation. And in that regard, they’re just another guy with an opinion.

CBS News reached out to the archdiocese of New York Thursday to see if they wanted to respond. We are waiting to hear back.


(6) Article from Crux, February 13, 2017 (link)

A dose of reality about the Steve Bannon/Cardinal Burke axis

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux

February 13, 2017

Everyone loves a conspiracy theory, and of late English-language media have been giddy with speculation that Trump mastermind Steve Bannonand American Cardinal Raymond Burke, seen as a leading traditionalist critic of Pope Francis, have formed a pact to “legitimize extremist forces that want to bring down Western liberal democracy,” in the words of the Washington Post.

(What the specific aim of this alliance may be isn’t terribly clear, since nobody seriously believes a Trump-backed Vatican palace coup is in the offing. Presumably, the idea is to encourage and embolden one another.)

Because we’re talking simultaneously about one of the most polarizing figures in American politics and an equally polarizing presence in the Catholic Church, a disclaimer is obligatory: Nothing that follows is intended as either a defense or an indictment of the views Bannon and Burke represent. Instead, it’s designed as a dose of reality about their rumored meeting of minds.

Five such points seem worth making.

First, so far as we know, there has only been one face-to-face encounter between Bannon and Burke, which came before Trump’s election and even before the release of Pope Francis’s controversial document Amoris Laetitia … in other words, before the raw material of any potential alliance was actually in place.

Second, there’s no clear evidence Bannon and Burke have become BFFs, beyond a suggestion from Ben Harnwell, the Rome-based head of a conservative group called the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, that they’ve kept in contact.

Even if the two men do occasionally swap emails, in itself there would be nothing extraordinary about it. I’ve covered the Vatican for twenty years, watching scores of American politicians wash through Rome, all hoping to establish contacts — either because they see the Vatican as an important global player, or because they think there could be domestic political value to being seen as having Catholic friends in high places, or both.

American politicians tend to seek out the Vatican’s fellow Americans, first because many don’t speak other languages, and second, because those are the people they’re likely to know about. Generally they gravitate first to Americans they believe might share at least some of their views, which makes Bannon reaching out to Burke, whose combative rhetoric on Islam is well known, completely natural.

From a very different point of departure, Bernie Sanders did the same thing when he came to Rome, as have John Kerry, John Bolton,Newt Gingrich, and any number of others I’ve watched in action.

Third, there’s no evidence of Bannon having any close Roman contacts beyond Harnwell and Thomas Williams, a theologian and ex-Legionaries of Christ priest who writes for Breitbart. (Williams also has contributed toCrux.)

While both Harnwell and Williams are well-informed about Roman happenings, both probably would be the first to concede they’re no kind of Vatican heavyweights in a position to broker backdoor deals between the White House and a cabal of dissident cardinals. With respect to this Vatican administration in particular, both are definitely outsiders.

Fourth, Bannon and Burke are different personalities with distinctly different agendas.

For one thing, Burke’s idée fixe at the moment is defending classic Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage, an issue brought to the fore by Amoris Laetitia and its cautious opening on Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. Given that Bannon has been divorced and remarried three times, as has his boss, Burke probably wouldn’t regard them as his most natural partners.

Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, whatever else you want to say about Bannon, he’s not a political idiot. If his goal truly were to influence the direction of the Francis papacy somehow, away from potential conflict zones with his boss, he surely would have to know that Burke is hardly positioned to be helpful.

Indeed, if one were to compile a list right now of figures on the Roman landscape least likely to influence whatever Pope Francis says or does, Burke would be a great candidate for the top spot.

Granted, some of the protagonists in this storyline seem to be going out of their way to make a conspiracy theory almost irresistible.

For instance, on Monday Williams used his platform on Breitbart to deliver a reply to Jesuit Father James Martin, who had gone on MSNBC on Sunday to comment on reports about an alliance between Bannon and what Martin termed Catholic “radical traditionalists.”

Readers can look at what Martin said and then Williams’s response, and judge the merits of the exchange for themselves. In terms of the optics, however, it’s easy to assume that Williams equals Bannon and Bannon equals Burke, and therefore to conclude that Williams was executing a play designed by the cabal.

Under the law of Occam’s razor, however, the simplest explanation is different.

What’s probably going on is this: Bannon is a ferocious cultural conservative, and thus when he was in Rome he reached out to people he suspected might be friendly. Without any need for coordination, in the meantime, he’s continued to pursue his agenda, and Catholics such as Burke have pursued theirs.

In other words, the most plausible explanation is that the people who figure in this narrative are simply doing what they do, and the fact their activity sometimes overlaps shouldn’t be a surprise.

Bottom line: We don’t need a new “axis of evil” to account for what’s happening, simply the usual clash of competing ideologies and worldviews. That may not make anyone feel better, but it at least has the virtue of being closer to reality.

[End Dossier]