Bannon, according to basically every leak out of the White House, clashed with McMaster for the exact same reason that his erstwhile colleagues at Breitbart did: He saw McMaster as an advocate of “globalist” ideas that Trump should have stood against.
In May, for example, Just Security’s Kate Brannen reported that Bannon and McMaster were clashing regularly over Afghanistan policy. Bannon, according to Brannen, was leaking damaging information on McMaster to far-right outlets — though not, interestingly, Breitbart — in order to weaken his hand and even push him out of the White House. “[It’s] “Game of Thrones for morons,” said one of Brannen’s administration sources.
@profmusgrave: ……………. when Bannon talks more sensibly.
All White Houses have internal divisions on policy; bitter divides between staffers are to be expected when the stakes are so high. But experts saw the McMaster-Bannon fight as something categorically different, particularly given the degree to which the infighting took place in the public eye and the sheer scope of ideological divide between the two men.
“Bannon-McMaster goes beyond this in many, many ways,” says Paul Musgrave, a professor who studies American politics and foreign policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “[They’re] representatives of the most extreme debates you could have within, broadly speaking, the institutional right.”
Somewhat ironically, this infighting is likely what led to the senior strategist’s downfall. Multiple accounts of Bannon’s departure last week suggested that the president grew tired of Bannon getting so much attention and Chief of Staff John Kelly grew tired of the infighting, which he mostly blamed on Bannon.
But this also shows that Bannon has no compunctions about using scorched-earth tactics against members of his former bosses’ team that he sees as disloyal. He sees his job, by all reports, as keeping the president honest — working as hard as he can to ensure that Trump lives up to the hardline nationalist vision they advanced during the campaign.
Which means that Breitbart under Bannon will continue its newfound hostility toward McMaster. If anything, the fighting will escalate. Breitbart is currently selling fidget spinners with Steve Bannon’s face and #WAR imprinted on them, a common Breitbart hashtag denoting its commitment to ideological struggle.
This kind of fighting appears to be escalating. Recently, a lot of Breitbart’s reporting about McMaster has focused on allegations that he is hostile to Israel. Editor-in-chief Alex Marlow hosted uber-conservative columnist Caroline Glick on his podcast to bash McMaster as disloyal to both Israel and Trump. “He is pushing and getting implemented a policy, in relation to Israel,” Glick said, “of realigning the United States away from its allies in the United States and in favor of Iran and Hezbollah.”
Much of Breitbart’s reporting has cited statements by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a hard-right pro-Israel group. The ZOA put out a long report arguing that Cohen-Watnick and the rest are opposed to the Iran deal, which it believes is a disaster for Israel, and that McMaster was appointing people who supported keeping the deal in place.
“General McMaster should not maintain a position where he can continue to undermine President Trump’s policies on Iran, Israel and the fight against ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ — a term that General McMaster believes should not even be used,” the briefing argued.