The tension and conflict within the White House has been well-documented since President Donald Trump took office a few months ago. Various groups and spheres of influence have sought to gain the attention of the President, with power struggles resulting in an internal mess for the Trump administration. It largely comes down to two groups: the more politically mainstream types like Jared Kushner and the America First nationalists such as Steve Bannon.
These conflicts have been magnified by Thursday’s missile strike in Syria, where President Trump ordered an air base be targeted for attack. While the America First grassroots have largely stood against the airstrike for various reasons, the Trump administration has seemingly remained unified behind the decision.
Bannon, the former Breitbart News executive chair, was long considered a close ally of President Trump himself, influencing policy decisions and political choices. The controversial figure is known for his nationalist rhetoric and belief in putting his own country before others. Many grassroots activists who supported President Trump through last year’s election share the same belief.
His diminishing influence became apparent earlier in the week when it was announced he had been removed from the National Security Council. The move came as part of a greater shake up by H.R. McMaster, the President’s new National Security Advisor.
Days after the shakeup, Syria was attacked.
According to internal sources, Bannon opposed this:
Two sources close to Bannon told me the former Breitbart executive chairman argued against the strike — not because of its questionable constitutionality, but on the grounds that it doesn’t advance Trump’s America First doctrine. “Steve doesn’t think we belong there,” one Bannon ally told me. Bannon’s position lost out to those inside the White House, including Jared Kushner, who argued Trump needed to punish the Assad regime.
Bannon has become representative of the nationalist faction within the Trump administration, which appears to be losing influence in recent weeks. While the America First message arguably was President Trump’s biggest boost during the primary and general election, it seems to be becoming a mere afterthought at this point.
Even the Constitution itself puts America first by requiring Congress to debate the merits of a proposed war and then vote on the proposal. This did not occur prior to President Trump’s action.
Does the Syrian airstrike benefit America? Does it have America’s best interests in mind? Bannon seems to disagree.
While this airstrike seems to be opposed by the nationalists within the administration, many who opposed the America First message over the past year are on board. Individuals ranging from Bill Kristol and Jake Tapper to Senators John McCain and Chuck Schumer all strongly supported President Trump’s strike in Syria, citing the regional politics and the actions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian missile strike illustrates the fall of the America First message within the Trump administration and the diminishing influence of nationalists such as Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. However, Bannon has decided not to quit, instead insisting that President Trump must fire him if he is to go.
Is the Syrian airstrike a simple show of force by a President known for his temperament and ego, or is it the beginning of a greater war that is only beginning?