Orange America: The rise of Neoconservatism
As Steve Bannon is pushed to the side, the Trump administration flirts increasingly with far right foreign policy
April 21, 2017
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It is no surprise that the election of Donald Trump in November signaled a conservative shift, if not in popular ideology, at least in executive and legislative and judicial policy. However, the same populism that propelled Donald Trump into the Oval Office offered solace to many through the brief transitional period between his election and inauguration, as they watched with nothing but crossed fingers as Trump accepted the Presidency with grace. Yet, his composure dwindled shortly thereafter, as he returned to his cardinal Twitter rants and abrasive verbal style.
This article has no intent of judging the President or his policies based on effectiveness; the objective is to analyze the apparent shift in power in the executive branch—for better or for worse. Upon his inauguration in January, President Trump installed Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist. Bannon is a prominent leader in the Alt-Right movement, which is politically peculiar to say the least. The movement is socially set in an ultra-conservative fashion, disavowing gay rights, gender equality, and even racial equality. On other issues, however, they adhere to libertarian values of individual freedom, which leads to overlap with liberals on foreign policy and select economic issues. This philosophy manifested early in Trump’s presidency, with an executive order extracting the United States from the Transpacific Partnership, a trade deal that would place corporations above governments in the eyes of international law and allow outsourcing of middle-class jobs to other countries, some of which allow slave labor, as in Brunei. This move demonstrated Bannon’s influence over the President, a power that was confirmed by Bannon’s addition to the National Security Council.
However, this puppeteering of Trump seems to have overreached in the past two weeks, as Bannon and the Alt-Right seem to be losing sway to the more hawkish and pro-business Neoconservatives, the George W. Bushes and Dick Cheneys of the modern White House. This shift can be traced to the public shaming of Trump for allowing Bannon such great power to begin with; to which Trump responded with the removal of Steve Bannon from the National Security Council. This occurrence, paired with rumors of Bannon’s imminent firing, coincides with an increase in military action. Trump was bound to be a more militant President than Barack Obama, a liberal; as of March 16, 2017, President Trump had increased the already absurd drone strike rate by 432 % (Wolverton). His apparent rejection of Libertarianism and shift towards Neoconservatism can be seen by the watermark of intervention in the past two weeks. An offensive strike against the Syrian government in response to chemical weapons that weren’t proven to have been used by Bashar al-Assad, as the international investigation is not yet complete, the dropping of a near-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan to destroy an ISIS facility holding 600-800 members maximum, and the North Korean brinkmanship that could soon erupt into a war if Trump responds to a nuclear test with a preemptive military force; these are all primary examples of our President’s shift towards a more hawkish foreign policy. Unless cooler heads prevail on Pennsylvania Avenue, this foray into Neoconservatism may well lead our President, as well as our country, into more offensive wars and international ignominy of the same flavor offered by the Neoconservative Bush administration in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wolverton, Joe. “Drone Strikes Up 432 Percent Under Donald Trump.” The New American, 16
Mar. 2017, Accessed 20 Apr. 2017. https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/foreign-policy/item/25604-drone-strikes-up-432-percent-under-donald-trump.
 We are currently still engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan with conventional military forces.