The Nationalists in Trump’s Administration: An Icarian Exodus

Icarus and Daedalus. by Jacob Peter Gowy.
Icarus and Daedalus. by Jacob Peter Gowy.

Both of Icarus and his father Daedalus are renowned figures in the Greek mythology. Daedalus was a clever craftsman who built the Labyrinth, an intertwined maze, to contain the Minotaur (a half-bull, half-human monster) and to imprison the enemies of king Minos, while forcing them to meet their inevitable destiny — the Minotaur. To keep the secrets of the maze, king Minos jailed both of Icarus and Daedalus in the island of Crete. Daedalus, the resourceful craftsman, designed a flying system composed of two feather wings, where the feathers were fixed with wax. To escape the island, Daedalus and Icarus wore those wings and flew. The father warned the son not to fly higher near the sun or the wax would melt. Enchanted by the sun’s light and power, Icarus did not listen to his father and deliberately approached the sun till all the wax melted down. Icarus fell down to the sea in a warning symbol of the fearful fate of those approaching the absolute power or the truth.

Well. Something nowadays is strikingly similar.

One after another, most of the nationalist political figures, associated with Trump, are falling down either by scandals, political mischief, or turning of Trump on them.

Retired General Michael T. Flynn, K. T. McFarland, and Steve Bannon had very similar political and economic views. They were strict American nationalists, Russian-pacifists, non-interventionists (except against ISIS), economical-protectionists, anti-immigration, anti-Semitic (this part is a little controversial), and of course anti-Muslims. That group of Trump’s aides was either purely adopting the previous directions, or at least was loyal to Trump and did not publicly criticize those policies.

Official DIA portrait of Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn
Official DIA portrait of Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn

Michael T. Flynn was a seasoned retired military man who spent most of his life in conventional and special operations within the U.S. Army. He was the eighteenth director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and was appointed by Trump as the national security adviser. Flynn served one of the shortest tenures in the US history that did not exceed a month. By triggering the Logan Act that prevents unauthorized U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign countries, Flynn was forced to resign after he did not fully disclose the dialogue that happened between him and the Russian ambassador after Obama’s sanctions against Russia. In that dialogue, Flynn convinced the Russians that all sanctions would be overturned once Trump assumes office. Flynn tried to cooperate with the congressional investigators in exchange for immunity, but his offer was refused and the investigations are still going.

K. T. McFarland was a known figure during several past US administrations: Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. She was specialized in speech-writing and research on several policy matters. She also had a favorable opinion of Mr. Putin and expressed that she would nominate him for a Nobel prize for his efforts in the Syrian civil conflict. In addition, she condemned the way Obama tried to contain the Islamist danger, which she thought to be of great and imminent risk to the western civilization. McFarland was a Fox News’ opiner on the national security issues.

KT McFarland speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. by Gage Skidmore.
KT McFarland speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. By Gage Skidmore.

McFarland was appointed by Trump as a deputy national adviser to Flynn.

After Flynn’s ouster, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral, Robert Harward, was nominated by Trump for the position. Harward felt that McFarland would be imposed on him since he is the newcomer not her, and felt that being a Fox News’ commentator would not qualify you for such position. He asked to appoint his own team and hence his deputy, but his request was refused and Harward forsook his nomination.

When H.R. McMaster, a highly prestigious army director and deputy commanding general for several army centers, was nominated by Trump to the national security adviser position, he followed the exact path of Harward and refused the Russian-pacifist McFarland. Of course, Trump was forced to kick out McFarland since he could not politically withstand two successive rejections from two highly military U.S. Army figures.

H.R. McMaster as Deputy TRADOC Commander and ARCIC Director in 2014. by U.S. Army Public Affairs.
H.R. McMaster as Deputy TRADOC Commander and ARCIC Director in 2014. By U.S. Army Public Affairs.

McFarland was nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to Singapore in a clear defeat to the white house nationalists and Trump’s loyalists.

At last, comes Steve Bannon. Bannon is considered one of the very important factors that helped Trump in reaching the White House (although Trump is now refusing that notion). Bannon is a well-versed, highly educated, populist, and a jack-of-all-trades person. During his career, he undertook several jobs and positions with distinctively different capacities. He was a navy officer, an investment banker, a media producer, a research director, and finally, a founding member of the Breitbart News — the far-right news portal. Breitbart News was accused of spreading white nationalistic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and racist opinions to the Americans. Bannon received some defense from Jewish organizations and some aggression from others.

Steve Bannon speaking at the 2017 CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland. by Gage Skidmore.
Steve Bannon speaking at the 2017 CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland. By Gage Skidmore.

Bannon with Stephen Miller, the 31-year old political adviser to Trump, engineered the first travel ban that was dedicated to preventing the nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. and to impose an indefinite ban on the Syrian refugees. Bannon described his main strategy using three pillars: national security and sovereignty, economic nationalism, and a “deconstruction of the administrative state.” It is totally understandable how this Leninist approach for state deconstruction — later become “administrative state deconstruction” — had opened hell’s doors on him.

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Steve Bannon

It appears that Bannon reduced — unsuccessfully — his tone about a state demolition, but after he has been taken care of. Bannon suddenly clashed with Jared Kushner — Trump’s senior adviser and his democratic-leaning son-in-law. The clash reasons were not clear, however, if we take into consideration the anti-Semitic controversies of Bannon and that Jared — Jewish- is forming a tag team with his friend Gary Cohn — the Jewish national economic council Chairman. And that both of Cohn and Jared are pro-trade and generally against the protectionist agenda, we can get a grasp of the ongoing hate and conflict. On another front, the media — for example, the Time magazine  — began to fork Bannon by portraying him as the real president and that Trump is his puppet or assistant. All these consecutive attacks ripened and Mr. Bannon was expelled from his position in the National Security Council, but he is still –till this moment — the chief strategists for Trump. Nobody wants right now to expel Bannon from his ranks since his retaliation — through Breitbart News — may prove painful.

Another very unpredictable Icarus is Mr. Trump himself!

Mr. Trump had campaigned on a clear platform of a protectionist agenda by imposing border taxes to tackle trade deficits, attacking China, labeling NATO as obsolete, reconciling with Russia and Assad’s regime, and expressing uneasiness with the European Union.

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. By Gage Skidmore.

Everything has lately — and inexplicably —  turned 180 degrees!

Not long ago, Mr. Trump confessed that “U.S.-Russia relations may be at all-time low!” Relations with China have been greatly improved and he and the U.S. Treasury admitted that China would not be labeled a currency manipulator! China is intervening now in the ongoing escalations between U.S. and North Korea and trying to clear the waters between them. Regarding the European Union, Trump administration has also sent considerable numbers of the capable F-35 fighters to Europe in a clear policy shift towards Europe protection in the face of any possible Russian aggression.

In a politically pointless manner, the U.S. waged an attack on Al-Shayrat airbase of Al-Assad’s regime that was used to attack the Syrian opposition and people using Sarin gas. There have been no specific gains from this attack since the casualties from the gas attack hugely resemble that of a normal barrel bomb attacks. The aggression was a clear trespassing feat against the Russians and a strange end of the very short honeymoon between Trump’s administration and the Russians.

It appears that the tipping point of the change was the hiring of the General McMaster! All the policies began to shift to a pure Republican direction with the complete discarding of the old nationalist one.

The exodus of the Israelites from Egypt in the Old Testament was from injustice and religious oppression to freedom, but apparently, the exodus of the American nationalists was an Icarian one: from the high ranks to a political death.