The first time I met Steve Bannon—in the summer of 2017, following his exodus from the White House—he said something that’s been central to my understanding of the Trump years ever since. The “liberal international order?” He didn’t believe in it.
That order—which has, since the Second World War, been the semi-official project of three generations of American statesmen.
After the Soviet collapse thirty years ago, that order expanded its jurisdiction.
2008, 2016 and 2020—the financial crisis, Trump’s election and now the Coronavirus and its reaction—have been successive gut punches to this project, a hat trick which may seal its demise.
The world is de-globalizing at a speed almost as astonishing as it integrated. Post-Covid, U.S.-China confrontation is not a choice. It’s a reality.
This was the argument made by Bannon.
Trumpian nationalism has chugged along for nearly three years since—stripped, some might say, of its Bannonite flair and intelligence.
The most hysterical prophecies of what the president might do—that he might withdraw from the geriatric North Atlantic Treaty Organization, for instance—have not come to pass.
That could change, especially if Trump wins a vindicating second term.
On Wednesday, one man gave a preview of what the discourse will look like.
The thrust of Hawley’s( Missouri Senator Josh) thinking differs from that of some of his sharp-elbowed rivals, such as Sen. Tom Cotton. Unlike Cotton, Hawley seems to actually lament most of the United States’ counterproductive efforts in the Middle East.
“The 40-year-old freshman senator is often discussed as a 2024 presidential prospect,” Axios reported Wednesday.
“He’s betting that Trump’s populist nationalism and hawkishness on China aren’t passing phenomena, but the future of the Republican Party. “
Curt Mills is Senior Writer at TAC covering national security, the 2020 campaign and the Trump presidency. Read more about Sen. Josh Hawley’s analysis of the US/China relationship here.