Linkdump: The Trump/Bannon administration

I’m more than slightly fed up with the huge amount of writing about the US administration that has been dominating my reading sources since the trump election. It’s understandable, of course even fundamentally important actually, and I’ve been duly consuming a lot of it to try and keep up, but I just want to get some texture back into my reading.

So, to that end this linkdump is an attempt to draw a small line under the one topic I’ve been reading more about than anything else since November 2016. I’m not signing off completely, but I am trying to re-balance what I’m reading. You’ll be able to form a quick opinion about where I sit on the question of Trump and Bannon from the sources, let alone the content of these pieces, but there are also a number of well written essays/articles here that I think are sincere and informative regardless of which side your opinions trend towards.

The Economist tries to be even handed in a high level view of the Trump administration recognising the potential for improved domestic economics while worrying about the fragility of the western world order built by the US since WW2, and largely, of course, built for the US also.

Politico offers up an overview of the kind of secrets that will now be available to Trump. Very interesting and slightly scary, regardless of who holds power.

The United States has invested trillions of dollars to ensure that its president can know more than anyone else on Earth—knowledge meant to be deployed to the country’s advantage in trade negotiations, military posturing and a thousand other ways big and small

There are a bunch of pieces raising the alarm about Steve Bannon. Some are focused on where he comes from, politically, and what he has previously claimed to be his political goals, others worry specifically about his elevation to the National Security Council.

In 2015 Bloomburg called him the most dangerous political operative in America

From the Washington Post, The danger of Steve Bannon on the National Security Council

Michael Mullen, who served on G W Bush’s security council is concerned about the potential for the NSC to become politicised.

The security council was formed in 1947 to serve a unique role in our government. It facilitates and coordinates, providing a forum through which federal agencies discuss and debate policy and, ultimately, provide counsel to the president about how best to keep the American people safe. At N.S.C. meetings, representatives from the State Department, the Pentagon, the Treasury Department, the intelligence community and other agencies speak freely and critically about the full breadth of options available to the United States. Those discussions can get heated at times. They can certainly get territorial. But they seldom get political — nor should they.

Foreign Policy puts together a really good piece about how incoming administrations commonly make structural changes and how a raft of seemingly innocuous decisions can be massively important. It holds the view that the Trump/Bannon setup isn’t great but the real value here is to understand the underlying reasons and history of these kind of changes. As the headline suggests understanding these things helps us to answer the question of who is the power behind the throne.

This from the New Yorker is in similar territory

And its almost certainly true that an examination of who the most powerful people in Trump’s inner circle are would be incomplete without some kind of summary of Jared Kushner

Kushner imagines his role as managerial, not policymaking. “I’m not political,” he told the audience, not entirely credibly. In D.C., as Reagan’s adage goes, “People are policy,” and no person, other than Trump himself, has been as politically instrumental in advancing the new president’s ambitions.

And Ivanka

When she was appointed to the board of directors at Trump Entertainment Resorts, at age twenty-five, the situation was “stacked all the way against me.”

This link is included almost entirely because it uses the phrase “Javanka”

There has been quite a lot of comment about whether we are seeing a slow structural dissoultion of democracy and a move through populism to autocracy. I’ve included this essay because it is laying down some markers, before the event, that we can monitor easily enough, that can help us worry, or hopefully help us to not worry.

10 ways to tell if your president is a dictator

Finally, because it’s important to be aware of the whole picture if possible, I include this from Politico. I imagine their readership to be fairly anti Trump, so it’s worth taking this on board.

Donald Trump might be more popular than you think