As President Donald Trump's inner circle becomes engulfed in more Russia-related scandal, there's only one close ally he still avidly listens to, and that is Steve Bannon. Now, Bannon wants to use mercenaries to fight the unwinnable Afghanistan war, and Trump may just be crazy enough to have a go at it.
After a short period of tension that seemed to pit Bannon against Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, Bannon is back in the fold, ready to implement his most “creative” ideas, Salon reports.
To New York Magazine's Joshua Green, the author of upcoming book “Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency,” Bannon is now an even stronger influence because he has, so far, managed to remain untouched by the Russia scandal. Calling Bannon Trump's “indispensable henchman,” Green says that Bannon remains in charge of the president's “war room,” meaning that Bannon is the one strategizing against Trump's enemies. At the moment, that means Robert Mueller is their main target since he's the man responsible for the independent investigation into the president's alleged Russia ties.
But much more than that, Bannon is also in charge of strategies regarding actual wars, such as the one in Afghanistan.
Now, Trump's henchman wants to use private security firm Blackwater Worldwide and giant military contractor DynCorp International to take over Afghanistan on behalf of the United States, The New York Times reports. Essentially, that would imply replacing U.S. boots on the ground and military leadership with the armed contractors.
The idea isn't new, as Blackwater's founder, Erik D. Prince, a man who's close to Trump and his family, wrote in a Wall Street Journal piece just how he would go about handling Afghanistan back in May.
Claiming that “Afghanistan is an expensive disaster for America,” Prince argued that Trump should appoint a “viceroy,” or governor, for the war-torn country, giving the corporations in control access to the country's trillion dollars-worth natural resources, such as minerals, oil, gas, and more. Through this plan, Prince and his mercenaries would essentially “self-fund” the operation while exploiting the country and using cheap local labor for resource extraction.
Unlike a basic private operation, this would essentially work as a monopoly run on behalf of the American people and with the blessing of the U.S. government, against the will of the Afghan people.
Unfortunately for the president — and Bannon — this idea seems to have been turned down by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, at least for now. However, Bannon may still press on, forcing Trump to intervene by pushing Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to embrace his plan.
We certainly hope it doesn't come to that. Still, discussing these ideas in depth is an important step toward making sure that the White House knows we're not ignoring their imperialist ventures.