The Steve Bannon National Security Council Appointment is quite a coup for the former head of Breitbart News. As reported by ABC News, not only will the controversial far-right White House chief strategist now sit in on National Security Council meetings, the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been ousted from permanent positions on the Council.
WH advisors Bannon and Miller overruled the Dept of Homeland Security's judgment the travel ban should not apply to Green Card holders https://t.co/rK8zAgeCug
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) January 29, 2017
The Controversies Around Steve Bannon
National Security Council meetings are generally supposed to be free of political considerations and bias. However, as reported by the Associated Press, during his tenure as head of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon has expressed opinions that many consider to be racist, sexist and anti-semitic. So, his placement on the council was certain to generate controversy.
This latest Donald Trump decision is causing an uproar on the Internet, with many on Twitter describing Steve Bannon as “President Bannon.” It is also virtually unprecedented for a purely political advisor – which Bannon is supposed to be – to sit in on meetings regarding national security and military matters.
— AltHomelandSecurity (@AltHomelandSec) January 29, 2017
Allowing Bannon to have an official standing in the National Security Council meetings – while removing the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a permanent presence at such meetings – could easily give the public and foreign leaders the impression that political considerations are influencing Donald Trump’s military and intelligence policies.
Pondering President Bannon National Security
Council appointments notwithstanding, there seems to be little evidence that Steve Bannon has either the qualifications or the temperament required for making the kinds of calls that the National Security Council has to make on a regular basis regarding the nation’s security and future international and military policies.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) January 29, 2017
Even though – while he was at Breitbart News – Bannon offered up endless opinions on any number of subjects, ranging from climate change to our posture in the Middle East, these positions were almost always at odds with those of professional international and security experts. Bannon’s limited experience as a naval officer hardly qualifies him as an expert in these areas.
Given this, the advice and opinions that Steve Bannon is likely to offer Donald Trump through the National Security Council will spring from a profound lack of experience and paucity of knowledge when it comes to such matters. Despite this, it seems clear that Trump will rely heavily on Bannon for security and foreign policy opinions – otherwise, he would never have put him on the Council to begin with.
In fact, in several of the official White House photos of Donald Trump making phone calls – in which Trump is speaking to foreign leaders – Bannon can be seen standing in the background, as though he is orchestrating things. Foreign policy and security experts find Bannon’s involvement in such matters extremely disquieting. And as reported by CNN, Senator John McCain today expressed his concerns about Trump’s decision regarding the Bannon National Security Council appointment.
Downgrading of the Joint Chiefs and the DNI
As mentioned above, this apparent Bannon National Security Council coup involves more than just Donald Trump issuing an order placing Bannon on the Council. Along with Bannon’s appointment, the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were removed from permanent positions on the Council.
Note that Bannon has a higher status on the new NSC than the Director of National Intelligence and the Joint Chiefs Chairman. https://t.co/AZsCe8Qk4d
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) January 29, 2017
Instead of regularly attending the meetings of the National Security Council, these highly trained experts – who have years of experience in national security and military matters – will now only be called in when it’s deemed necessary. And the person doing the “deeming” is likely to be Steve Bannon.
It seems clear now that Bannon – along with Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump himself – will be calling the shots when it comes to national security matters. Thus, the Bannon National Security Council appointment suggests the Trump administration if isolating itself from any voices that might object to its future decisions.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]