By Wang Yiwei Source: Global Times Published: 2017-4-12
US President Donald Trump`s chief strategist Stephen Bannon was removed from his seat on the White House National Security Council (NSC) earlier this month. As one of Trump`s most trustful strategists, Bannon was appointed to the NSC in January, and thus, his dismissal in April is unexpected.
In fact, Trump has encountered strong opposition since assuming office, which has exerted considerable restraints on his ability to implement policies. Trump won the presidential election because his campaign promises have echoed public dissatisfactions against the government, but it is not easy to turn his rhetoric into policies. As president, Trump has to take into account the concerns of various interest groups, especially the elites, and establish good relations with them. But his political stances, such as anti-globalization and anti-free trade, will jeopardize US national interests.
Trump`s political views are, to a large degree, influenced by Bannon. The top advisor is known for his radical nationalist remarks, and thus, is marginalized and shunned by the US elites. Earlier, his appointment to the NSC has sparked huge controversies and criticisms from Capitol Hill and foreign affairs experts.
Under Bannon`s guidance, a number of Trump`s foreign policies have experienced setbacks. For instance, Trump`s executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from travelling to the US has faced strong opposition. Trump`s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn was also pressured to resign for his alleged connections with Russia. Dismissing Bannon is an attempt to calm domestic opposition voices. In addition, Bannon, as an advisor, is supposed to stay behind the scene, but his performance over the past months has the public calling him "President Bannon." This is another factor that has led to Bannon`s dismissal.
Some argue that Bannon`s departure is a victory for National Security Advisor Herbert Raymond McMaster, and the pro-establishment forces will see growing clout in Trump`s cabinet. In fact, despite Bannon`s dismissal, Trump may maintain his political views and practices. The dismissal is just a concession made to appease the opposition forces. Trump`s political values can hardly be in alignment with the US political framework, power structure or mainstream ideology.
Internal strife will continue in Trump`s cabinet. Among others, US political establishment, Bannon, Trump`s Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and the head of the National Trade Council Peter Navarro may take turns to gain an upper hand in the fight for dominance. Beijing should be cautious of Navarro, who is known for his nationalistic stance on the economy and advocates tougher tax policies toward China. It takes time for Trump to overcome the current political chaos.
Bannon`s dismissal is good news for the Sino-US relationship. The advisor claimed earlier that there is "no doubt" that the US and China will go to war and he is highly likely to adopt tough security and diplomatic policies against China if he remains in the NSC. Frankly speaking, Bannon`s dismissal benefits US ties with not only China, but also with many other countries.
Trump is gradually steering his diplomatic and security policies back to US previous path. He alleged China of manipulating currencies on the campaign trail and even challenged Beijing`s One China policy before officially taking office. But after a few months in office, Trump seems to understand the significance of the Beijing-Washington relationship to US national interests. Cooperation with Beijing is of vital importance for US` sustainable development.
The author is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.