On a cold Friday night in New York City, Stephen K. Bannon is entertaining an eclectic group of friends and media types in his hotel suite. In today’s fraught political climate, a more public setting is practically out of the question. Over room service crudité and drinks, he holds court casually, affably. He smiles and laughs, speaking to everyone in the room without a trace of ego or artifice. The most unexpected thing about “Darth Vader”? He’s an easygoing, natural host.
In a side room, he and I spoke about a wide range of subjects, and the Bannon most folks are familiar with emerged: tenacious, certain, erudite, and displaying a deep and firm grasp of history and human nature. Over nearly an hour, we moved from the wide end of the funnel–the history of globalism–to the current moment of the impeachment proceedings.
“Kids under thirty are the new serfs.”
CD Media (CDM): What precipitated the last decade or so of unambiguous globalism? As recently as 2005, Angela Merkel stated that Islam would not and could not assimilate into Europe. What flipped the switch?
Steve Bannon (SB): It’s a business model. Globalization is how you open markets and keep labor costs low. This is a business model that has been building for forty years, exacerbated by the fall of the Berlin Wall. We didn’t have people focused on building the nation-state, on the Westphalian system. I think what’s triggered populism today is the financial crisis, which was the first real shock to the globalist system. You had mini-shocks with the Thai baht crisis, Long Term Capital, the tech bubble, the Mexican peso–and you needed central bank intervention. With fiat currency, the crash exposed to me the hollowness of the system. And the party of Davos–the City of London, Wall Street, Brussels, Washington, DC, Berlin and the global corporatists–bailed themselves out. You’ve essentially had a bailout by infusing liquidity off the balance sheets of central banks to bail out investment banks and hedge funds. Negative interest rates and quantitative easing have destroyed savings, have destroyed the whole concept of the household. Fifty percent of families in our country can’t put their hands on $400 in cash for an emergency. Kids under thirty are the new serfs, they don’t own anything. And that’s what’s led to populism, both on the right under Trump and the left under Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and in the UK, the left under Corbyn, and the right under Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. It’s the business model revolving around the rise of China. They suppress the value of labor. The fear I have–expressed in a New York Times task force–is that we’re in an informational and economic war with three powers right now: China, Persia, and Turkey. Henry Kissinger just came out in the South China Morning Post and said that if we don’t get on another course, we’re headed for catastrophic war with China. This is the 1930s. This is like, ’36 or ’37. We’re stuck in a negative feedback loop and need to get our financial house in order. Trump and his leadership is the right fit to take us to greater economic heights.
CDM: But why bring in people who are openly hostile to the west? Even Merkel admitted earlier this year that immigration has been an unmitigated disaster. What’s the reason behind the reason?
SB: The elites–the party of Davos–is comfortable with managed decline. In every aspect of western culture, whether it’s in healthcare, education, culturally–the elites are comfortable with managed decline. You’ve had the single greatest transfer of wealth ever from 2008 to today. If the working class has to suffer, Davos doesn’t care. And this isn’t about race. This concept of [white] replacement is ridiculous. It’s not about race. They’re always looking for more competition on labor, on the high end with tech workers and the low end. And yes, on the assimilation front, it clearly has failed. More importantly, we have elites who have lost faith in underlying tenets of Judeo-Christian west, such as self-determination, self-realization, ability to stand on your own two feet. One is the unlocking of the animal spirits in entrepreneurial economies. That’s why our right wing populism–deconstruction of the administrative state–is so crucial. Whereas Warren and Sanders are also populist, they believe in more state intrusion.
CDM: What role does the Holy See play in globalism? Callista Gingrich is our current ambassador. You know Erik Prince well, he converted to Catholicism in the nineties. Where does the church fit into present-day globalism?
SB: Newt’s converted, in Washington there are so many powerful intellectual figures who have converted to Catholicism, it’s pretty shocking. Look: the Pope is the Vicar of Christ. He embodies how cultural Marxism came into the church through liberation theology in the sixties through the Jesuits. It was rejected, essentially, by high church theologians in Paris and Germany. They considered it as beneath them. And now we’ve seen cultural Marxism come back–we just saw the Amazon Synod take place. Now the Pope accuses the right wing of being the root of problems throughout the world. And not only have they failed to adopt a zero-tolerance policy with the pedophilia scandal, they are in bed with the most totalitarian dictatorship in history. The PLA today is rounding people up in mainland China in Catholic churches. The Holy See is up to its neck in supporting a global order that is terribly elitist and incredibly destructive. And that’s why the church is in free fall in Europe and North America.
“When I go to Rome, I see more fear there than Berlin in the thirties.”
CDM: Tell me about your film on the subject of the Catholic Church.
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SB: A lot of people–colleagues on the right–have taken offense at my making a film of the book In the Closet of the Vatican by Frederic Martel. I recommend that every Catholic read it. It’s written by a guy who’s not a friend of the church. He’s a radical, he’s not a particularly good guy. But it shows that the Vatican is in the grips of a regime that is against the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church. People say he’s a leftist who hates the church. Maybe he is, maybe he’s not, but until the church confronts the facts he’s talking about head-on, these problems will metastasize. As it’s been laid out to me as I visit with people in the Vatican, the homosexuals in the clergy have taken over the Vatican. I think they’ve fallen in with the party of Davos. They don’t believe in the Westphalian system, the model of the individual nation state which has allowed mankind more freedom, more prosperity than ever before, and citizens to control their personal lives. It has worked for 300 years, and it’s far from perfect. It has led to some horrific outcomes, however, it’s the best system we’ve got and we should work to perfect it. But there’s no pressure for the church to change. I went over for the [Vatican Global Conference of Clergy Sexual Abuse] conference they had on the subject, and they just kicked the can down the road. They call it clericalism. I said, you’re going to have a financial collapse of the church in North America. The contingent liabilities of what they’ve done with these pedophiles is going to haunt them, and destroy the asset base of the Catholic Church.
CDM: So the Vatican needs to drain the swamp.
SB: That is a perfect way to say it. The only thing I don’t like about “drain the swamp,” it’s almost too cute. It doesn’t describe how vicious the permanent political class is in DC. Look how they’re going after Trump. If any kind of outsider tries to come in and change the system, they aren’t just sent home. They are to be destroyed. To send a signal to anyone else that you too will be destroyed. And it’s the same thing in Rome: if you go after the Pope, after the practical administration of the church, you are shut down. When I go to Rome, I see more fear there than Berlin in the thirties, because they know this guy rules with an iron fist. Now that’s where there’s an analogy to Washington, DC.
CDM: Leftists used to hate the WTO.
SB: Yes. The unions.
CDM: Why did they come to espouse globalism? Antifa is like a peephole into a Bolshevik future.
SB: It’s a great question. Why has the progressive left gone that route? When it’s people like Donald Trump who loves the troops, loves the veterans and is very pro-military, and Steve Bannon–I served as a Naval officer, my kid brother is a Navy pilot, my daughter’s a West Point graduate and serves in Iraq, we’re the ones sitting there saying, We’re getting too militaristic. The left props up the ambassador Taylors, the Kents. And I don’t have any problem with a Colonel Vindman, these are patriots and well-intentioned people, they just believe in a national security policy that is totally anti what Trump ran on and won: the deplorables wanted America First, where we start to rethink the rules of post-war international order. It’s not an American imperial system with underlying security guarantees. It’s our young men and women on the 38th parallel in Korea, on the ships in the South China Sea, in eastern Europe, and on patrol tonight in the Hindu Kush. It has devolved into a series of protectorates. NATO is a protectorate. This is the whole Ukraine situation.
CDM: And you’re spreading the word about that on War Room: Impeachment.
SB: One of the things I’m proudest of in the podcast is we try to go back and coach people up. The more you know, the more information you have, the more you can a build a framework for yourself to understand what’s going on there, and that’s so important. You have to know why we’re even in Ukraine, which is why we had Nigel Farage on, why we have Raheem Kassam. This happened because the party of Davos in Brussels wanted to take on Russia, and they tried to force Ukraine into the EU, and they thought about getting Ukraine into NATO. People need to know: Ukraine is a killing field. In World War II, it was the path of the Wehrmacht into Russia, and it was the path of the Red Army back to Berlin! Ten to fifteen million people were killed in Ukraine in World War II in the most brutal way possible. Compare that to 700,000 Americans who died. It is a place where World War II is not over yet. We have to understand the sensitivities there. Once the American people understand that, the more they say, hey, I kind of understand what Trump is doing, and I don’t agree with ambassador Taylor, or Kent, or Yovanovitch.
“It’s our young men and women on the 38th parallel in Korea, on the ships in the South China Sea, in eastern Europe, and on patrol tonight in the Hindu Kush.”
CDM: Clearly Ukraine is a feeding trough for the Bidens, Pelosis, even the Kerry-Heinzes. China was willing to ante up to have the US look the other way on intellectual theft and expansion. It’s a commonplace to say “the Bidens did nothing illegal,” which is wrong on its face.
SB: Totally wrong. This is American crony capitalism.
CDM: Will these people ever be held accountable?
SB: They have to be. I think the Democratic Party threw Joe Biden under the bus. They were prepared to trade a rook for a king. They’re talking about the Bidens in Ukraine, they’re certainly going to be talking about the Bidens in China. What’s frustrating to me, given Clinton Cash, let’s go back to ’16, we did the book, we did the analysis, the media, Bernie Sanders never did it–
CDM: With Peter Schweizer?
SB: Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash, talking about the corruption of the Clinton Global Initiative. Bernie Sanders had all those facts, and he did nothing with it. It was a pillow fight. That’s why he lost, that’s why he didn’t get a chance to take on Donald Trump. The same thing is happening here. Biden’s corruption is classic American crony capitalism. It’s the way Washington works. We have an aristocracy the founding fathers never intended us to have. You have Biden, from a middle class family in Scranton, but he’s a senator for forever, and then his deadbeat son ends up sitting on powerful boards. Happens all the time. What happened in China was 100 times worse than the Ukraine. And Biden was in charge of Obama’s pivot to Asia. The Munich of the 21st century is the building of the stationary islands in the South China Sea which will come back to haunt the US and Japan. If we get into a shooting war in the next five years, it’s going to be over those islands. Biden was overseeing China when he went over with Hunter and raised the money.
CDM: Totally unprecedented to do business like that with the People’s Bank of China.
SB: Absolutely. Xi came to the Rose Garden with Obama and signed the agreement to stop cyber intrusions and demilitarize the South China Sea in 2015. Biden was the point man. Six months later, cyber intrusions into our businesses had increased, and the militarization of the South China Sea increases to this day. Same thing in Ukraine–the most corrupt country in Europe, top three in the world–what we don’t want to do is import American crony capitalism into that system. Trump is rooting that out. It’s not just the fair thing to do, he has a duty and an obligation to the American people to do that.
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CDM: Anyone who listens to War Room knows that this is something we all must be united on.
SB: The mantra.
CDM: Right. So CD Media is clearly pro-military. Our publisher and editor-in-chief was a helicopter pilot with the Air Force–
SB: He did special ops.
CDM: Correct. And he is concerned. Like you, he has a child who has attended West Point. He’s concerned that Obama treated the service academies like a massive social justice experiment, with all the attendant flexible policies, lowered standards and the like. Thoughts?
SB: It’s huge. You have two things converging here historically. An impeachment–for only the fourth time in the history of the republic–and at the same time, from the anonymous op-ed to Nikki Haley’s revelations in her book, to the anonymous book that’s coming out this week, you essentially have a soft coup. Once in American history, when McClellan, right before Antietam, the Union generals thought about the potential of removing Lincoln, or that Lincoln wasn’t up to the job, when they wanted to negotiate a treaty with the Confederacy, only then have you ever had the possibility of a military coup. Here, something quite obvious–the op-ed, the revelations in Haley’s book that Kelly and Tillerson haven’t denied–they do not deny it–and the anonymous book–to me it’s far deeper than the impeachment. The impeachment is the nullification project of the Democratic left. The criticisms by certain admirals, certain four-stars, to challenge the commander in chief on his policy of America First. He’s the least trigger-happy president, he has not jeopardized the United States anywhere. This is unprecedented in the nation’s history! This has to be questioned. We’re literally going to become a banana republic if this isn’t thwarted. We owe. We owe every generation that has bequeathed the republic to us, we owe them to stand and fight today whether you like Trump or not. As a principle of our republic. When someone wins an election, he’s the commander in chief. Otherwise, you’ll have continual political warfare going forward. Do you think Bernie Sanders would be allowed to change things? If Sanders supporters think he’d be treated differently, I’ve got news for them: they’re going to be sadly disappointed.
CDM: How long before China’s Belt & Road initiative kicks off a world war, perhaps beginning in Africa as world wars tend to do?
SB: I was on a task force with Thomas Friedman in the New York Times discussing how our engagement over the last 30 or 40 years with China hasn’t worked. Henry Kissinger was in the South China Morning Post on Friday saying that we are headed toward a catastrophic war–he used that term specifically–unless we fix things. It’s three-fold: the “One Belt, One Road” logistics chain, the “Made In China 2025” convergence of chip design, robotics and AI, plus Huawei, which is the backbone of quantitative computing and technological advancement–those three together are the great geopolitical thrust of the 21st century by the Chinese who want to become the hegemonic, global, dominant economic power. They’re a totalitarian mercantilist system. Right now on the Eurasian landmass, they’re working with the mullahs in Iran, Erdogan in Turkey, and now, unfortunately, Russia, and I think Pakistan, and obviously North Korea to consolidate the Eurasian landmass. Logistically, they’re working every day to get off the SWIFT System. They have announced a gold-backed blockchain cryptocurrency which they will try to use to get off the US Dollar as the reserve currency. And once that happens, we’re Argentina, okay? US foreign policy since August of 1914 has had one consistency: we will never allow a power or powers to consolidate the Eurasian landmass. Right now, I believe we’re in 1936 or 1937: the global economy is in the doldrums with negative interest rates, it’s like the late thirties. We still don’t know how to pull out of the financial collapse of 2008. That’s why President Trump’s national security policy is the correct policy. If we combine with our allies, we can avoid a catastrophic war. Whether the flashpoint is Hong Kong or Beirut, people have to realize something: the world is on fire right now. From Chile to Sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East–the world is on fire. And the Democratic Party is running for student council president. They had a three hour debate and asked virtually no foreign policy questions. It’s great they’re focused on climate change and healthcare for all, but they better get focused on what’s going to overwhelm the American people and their economy. And that’s why I backed Trump in 2016 and why I back him now: he’s the right man at the right time, with the right plan.
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“We owe every generation that has bequeathed the republic to us, we owe them to stand and fight today whether you like Trump or not.”
CDM: Why, as Trump tries to complete phase one of the US-China trade deal, is Rubio pushing the Hong Kong democracy bill through the senate when he knows it will irritate the Chinese?
SB: I think he’s doing the right thing.
CDM: Even if it fouls up the trade deal?
SB: Look, there are hawks and there are superhawks who agree with the president, but think that the Chinese Communist Party is–and I quote Mike Pompeo–a national security threat to the United States of America. Not the Chinese people, but the Chinese Communist Party. And yes, any phase-one deal, will it goose the stock market in the short term? Yes. But part of why the US economy is doing so well is that President Trump is finally beginning to bring China to heel. And as freedom-loving people, how can we possibly not back the young people of Hong Kong? They’re essentially the patriots of 1776, they’re on the streets everyday–
CDM: Are we backing them?
SB: We’re not backing them. This stuff about the CIA, that’s nonsense. They’re on the verge of martial law. And the west is going to be called to account–did they back the freedom movement? And I don’t think Hong Kong is a matter internal to China. Those are international treaties signed, negotiated by the British, and signed by the US. It was going to be one country, two systems for 50 years and now that’s been violated. We’re seeing a totalitarian regime repress a freedom-loving people, and I think it’s the duty and responsibility of the west to have their backs.
CDM: You are planning to build the Academy for the Judeo-Christian West in Italy, south of Rome.
CDM: In August, news circulated about legal issues hampering the project. Is that pure politics or something less sinister?
SB: There was no cover bid. We put in the only bid. They’re trying to hold us up for more money.
CDM: Would Matteo Salvini stick his neck out to help you?
SB: We don’t need or ask for any help from elected officials. This has to be won on the merits. We think we’re taking them to court. We’ve put the plan to execute on hold temporarily, but we’re still building the program out. We have control of the monastery. This is a classic shake-down. They want a better deal. My question is, where’s the cover bid? Show us an alternative that helps the Italian people, helps the region, and in particular helps the monastery.
The monastery to house the Academy for the Judeo-Christian West. Screencap: YouTube
CDM: You correctly predicted Mike Bloomberg’s entrance into the presidential race a good three months ago. He’s skipping the New Hampshire primary after some pretty ugly words from Bernie Sanders and others. Is he in or out?
SB: A year ago. I predicted Bloomberg and Clinton. The centrists are going to have a say-so, it’s just not going to be a coronation of Elizabeth Warren.
CDM: But Bloomberg skipped New Hampshire?
SB: He’s going to skip a lot of them. It’s going to be a brokered convention.
CDM: You think Hillary gets the nomination?
SB: Well…she’s got to show that she’s for real right now. But remember, she got 65 million votes. Show me anybody else on that stage who comes close to that level of support. Mayor Pete going to get 65 million votes? I don’t think so. Hillary Clinton is–remember, their number one thing is defeating Donald Trump. It’s not universal healthcare, it’s not Green New Deal. It’s “Orange Man Bad.” They already threw Biden under the bus to take Trump down. This is not a national election, it’s an election of fifty states. It’s a national election of fifty states. Biden’s getting crushed in the states, they know he’s not their guy. That’s why you’re seeing centrists, now Deval Patrick, people know he’s Obama’s proxy.
CDM: What a kick in the pants that was.
SB: They don’t have faith Biden can win. The Democratic Party, not the candidates, threw him under the bus. Bloomberg is in it. Clinton is looking for the perfect time. She said the other day in London that she’s obsessed with this, she thinks about it all the time. I think Eric Holder–look, I think they sense a weak field. The person who they think can beat Donald Trump is who wins the nomination.
CDM: War Room: Impeachment, your daily podcast and terrestrial radio show, is a huge success. It seems that everyone who’s anyone in politics listens, including the left. Is there any chance that Pelosi doesn’t hold a vote? Is Schiff enough of a masochist to do this all winter?
SB: They’re going to very quickly get through the vote. I don’t think they’ll let Nadler hold hearings, he’s been a disaster, that’s why Schiff is running the star chamber, I think they’ll bring up two articles of impeachment, I think abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, they’ll have a floor debate, and sometime before Christmas, between the 18th and 21st of December, have a roll call vote and vote two articles of impeachment. They are too far in, the media is too far in. If there was any chance they weren’t going to do this, the first two days of testimony have overwhelmed it. Trump is getting impeached. And we should not take the Senate for granted. He must get an unconditional, non-negotiated acquittal in the Senate, and there’s not a sense of urgency around this. Kevin McCarthy stripped Steve King of all committee assignments, a sitting congressman, stripped the rights of his people in Iowa, because of an interview he gave to the New York Times. He has not taken out two guys who are retiring off the committee to put in the killers Lee Zeldin and Mark Meadows. We need the best people now. I realize we had a vote where everyone hung together. But a vote is different than a sense of urgency. You can see from the opposition research done on witnesses to the deconstruction of the testimony, you just don’t see the sense of urgency. People should not look to the White House. The president has a day job. He’s running the country, negotiating with China, trying to get us out of Syria, he’s focused on Venezuela and Hong Kong. The War Room is just one aspect. We’re in a dogfight. The left is very organized and has a high level of energy. We don’t have that.
“Jeff Sessions is the backbone of MAGA.”
CDM: The Horowitz report: explosive or a dud?
SB: I think that’ll be fine, but listen, we controlled the House Intelligence Committee, and sent 40 subpoenas to Rosenstein that were never executed! The IG report, the Durham report–I believe it’ll all come out and be fine, but it’s not going to happen now. You have to realize, you have to fight with the army you have.
CDM: Then it’s not “imminent?”
SB: I don’t know! I have no idea, it could happen tomorrow, the next day, or it could be blown off. What I know is that we have three buckets: the 19 or 20 guys who are retiring [from the House] that we must hold to zero. And it doesn’t make me feel well that Peter King and Rooney retire right before it starts. Then we have another 20 like Adam Kenzinger who don’t exactly love the president. And you have to take the 31 in swing districts and cut that in half.
CDM: Last question. Why is Jeff Sessions walking around in a MAGA hat for his campaign?
SB: What do you mean? Jeff Sessions is the backbone of MAGA.
CDM: Well, after the ugly exit for not recusing himself on Russia, which helped to create this whole climate for Trump?
SB: I completely disagree with that one thousand percent, that’s complete spin and just nonsense. There’s not one person associated with the campaign–Chris Christie or Jeff Sessions–that could’ve gotten confirmed by the Senate if they had not recused themselves in the Russia matter, that’s just nonsense. And I admire the president, but he’s dead wrong there. Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie or Jeff Sessions, none would have gotten confirmed.
CDM: I’m just saying that half of Twitter is questioning Sessions’ loyalty.
SB: Half of Twitter are f***ing morons.
The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Steve Gruber.