Steve Bannon may no longer work at the White House, but his agenda is still the one Trump is pushing (and Stephen Miller, of course). This week he announced a ban on travel from Europe, while conveniently exempting the places where he has golf resorts. That action is straight out of Bannon’s agenda to damage the EU.
When President Donald J. Trump delivered his latest market-rattling remarks on the coronavirus pandemic from the Oval Office on Wednesday night, political reporters collectively scratched their heads over the president’s announcement of a ban on travelers from Europe and cargo coming from the continent. (The cargo ban was later walked back.)
But anyone paying attention to the rise of the global right knew what Trump was up to: using well-founded fears of the virus’s spread in the U.S. to strengthen the hand of Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s erstwhile chief White House strategist, in the former’s quest to weaken the European Union.
In his remarks, Trump blamed European travelers for “seeding” the “foreign virus”—first identified in China—on American shores, and blamed Europe for the spread of the new coronavirus, because, he said, the E.U. had not banned travel from China as the U.S. has. “And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe,” Trump said, conveniently omitting the fact that Europe has a viable testing regimen, while it’s still impossible for most people in the U.S. to obtain a test for COVID-19, as the new coronavirus is formally known. Consequently, no one knows just how many people in the land of the free are freely walking around, spreading the virus. Nor do we know how many deaths from respiratory failure are due to the new virus.
While a number of claims made by Trump in the remarks he delivered from the Resolute Desk have since been walked back by various government agencies, it is notable that a clarification from the Department of Homeland Security says that the European countries affected by the executive order signed by Trump include only those in the Schengen area, which means those that are party to a multi-nation agreement to maintain open borders among them. Most of those 22 nations are members of the E.U.
In other words, this is an ideological and punitive action against those nations for daring to act in coalition—and for having demonstrated, since 1985, the value of such a compact.
And the things that we fear, are a weapon to be held against us (Rush, The Weapon).
Trump is also using it to push the anti-immigration agenda he shares with Bannon, of course. The myth of the diseased immigrant preys on people’s fear of the other. Those fears are a weapon being used against us and against others.