It’s worth noting that, among all the other stories involving them right now, the Trump/Bannon grand geopolitical strategy is in tatters. France and the Netherlands passed by the opportunity to install populist right governments this year, and Germany is very unlikely to do so either. It also can’t be overstated just how much the plan to shred the EU and return to blood and soil nationalisms was dependent on hard Brexit being a success, which in turn meant putting a huge investment on Theresa May. Brilliant! If things continue as they are, within a few months she’ll be replaced by a left-wing Labour government that is going to want nothing to do with Trump whatsoever, and is going to water Brexit down even more than Theresa May is going to be forced to water it down after losing her majority. (I had real doubts she would have been able to pull off the right wingers’ fantasy Brexit even if she hadn’t made one of the biggest mistakes in recent memory, but at this point it’s definitely dead.) I suppose there’s a shot (a fairly decent one, in fact) that Austria will keep their hopes alive this year, but that’s pretty much it. And for a group that’s often derided as fascists, that would be poignant indeed.

Admittedly, when it comes to the domestic side, Trump and Bannon are extremely effective–at destroying American power. Atrios has a great link here. Sometimes this is called “soft power” (also I think Hillary Clinton tried to rebrand it as “smart power” which didn’t really take off), but really it’s just being able to get the things you want without the mess and expense of a war. Wars tend to be a less straightforward way of accomplishing this stuff, particularly in the modern era, when small, weak states can fairly easily resist much more powerful ones until the latter loses interest. Iraq didn’t yield to America, Yemen shows no signs of yielding to the Saudis, Ukraine is still resisting Russia, etc. Obama did a really great job in restoring that power after Bush but Trump is going to kill it for good. Now it’s a pattern, you see. When a Democrat is elected to clean up the mess Trump made, they won’t be able to pull an Obama because everyone else will figure the person succeeding President Cory Booker (e.g.) is going to shred all the work he did internationally. Really, Trump has already done this by showing the world that Bush wasn’t an aberration, and that if anything the next Republican is going to be even worse than he is. Unfortunately the military budget will stay high for some time to come (not even Democrats really want to bring it down), but the reputation, the fear, the perception of power, it’s all gone now. I hope you enjoyed it!

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