Two days before the deadly riots in Charlottesville an insane, paranoid White House National Security memo emerged that helps explain Trump’s flaccid response to the armed insurrection of white nationalists at University of Virginia. If you’re wondering how the President of the United States could say there are “fine people” within the ranks of the Nazi brotherhood, look no further than this document.
Penned in late May by a former aide to National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, the so-called “POTUS & Political Warfare” memo was revealed to the public on August 2 in leading media including, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy Magazine, and Mother Jones.
These stories report that memo was written by an acolyte of Steve Bannon, Rich Higgins, and that when a copy of it “made it up to the President’s desk,” Trump was furious that Higgins was asked to resign.
In a nutshell, Higgins argues that Trump is under attack by a Maoist insurgency, and proposes strategy and tactics for oppositional political warfare against a cabal of cultural Marxists who seek to bring down the country through criticizing the President and opposing his agenda.
As crazy as this sounds, there are two good reasons to take the memo seriously.
First, it is a technical assessment from the Strategic Planning Office of the National Security Council. The NSC is a body that serves the President as an interface between military and intelligence on matters pertaining to security and foreign policy. During the Obama Administration the NSC controlled “kill lists” for suspected terrorists including Americans. Secondly, the memo is a product of the Bannon, Steven Miller, Sebastian Gorka troika which is currently nudging out cooler heads in the NSC.
At the very least the memo serves as a indication of the Trump’s belligerence toward Americans he doesn’t agree with. But the more alarming prospect is that Trump and his tribe of White House neo-nazis implement ideas in the document to organize their Homeland Security agenda.
The paper prescribes an “adversary action plan” to combat enemies. On the legal end of the tactical spectrum that means using Title 18 of the Federal Code (conspiracy) to bring charges against his opposition. This would apply to government employees such as members of Congress and their staff.
Higgins also argues that an existential threat to the United States is imminent, and so the President must act quickly. The call to action is solicited in the starkest terms in the paper’s conclusion: “The recent turn of events give rise to the observation that the defense of President Trump is the defense of America. In the same way President Lincoln was surrounded by political opposition…so too is President Trump. Had Lincoln failed, so too would have the Republic.”
Clouded in the jargon of John Bircher-esque polemic, the call-to-action alludes to civil war while bearing no resemblance to history as we know it. It’s also internally inconsistent: Lincoln fought back against secessionist traitors, while this memo claims Trump must align with the same.
Read the entire memo here.
You might be thinking, “So what if “cultural Marxists” are in for a hard time? Those Bernie Bros have it coming.” Well, not so fast because the memo defines cultural Marxists—a.k.a. the enemy—as anyone in the following categories: the academy, the deep state, globalists (including bankers and corporatists), Democratic leadership, and the media. You know, the same enemies that every dictator seeks to eliminate; thinkers, doers and leaders.
Higgins’ resignation came on July 21 according to The Atlantic. We don’t know what came next, except that Trump threw a fit when he found out, and then Charlottesville happened on August 12. I’m not suggesting that the Trump administration had a hand in Charlottesville. But it’s safe to say his most trusted advisors are predisposed to advancing the objectives of the memo, which aligns almost word-for-word with Richard Spencer’s white nationalist schtick.
To that end, it should be noted that acts of terror such as seen throughout the Charlottesville protest, present the kind of destabilization traditionally used to grab power when a tremulous regime has its back up against the wall. We’ve seen this scenario play out repeatedly in Latin America and the Middle East. The most recent manifestations are in Venezuela and Ukraine.
The good news is that since the Unite The Right rally, Trump’s administration has been roundly rebuked by the public, and the Republican establishment has mostly refused to provide them with political cover. The bad news is that the weakened Trump clan could find themselves so alienated that a “damn the torpedoes” approach seems their only option. Either way it’s up to the public to maintain pressure. The ACLU’s announcement that they will no longer represent First Amendment cases for armed white nationalist rallies is a good start. Meanwhile, this weekend could see a renewed effort by right wing extremists to flex their muscle, as cities across the country are accelerating removal of Confederate statues from public spaces.
There is no overestimating the racial animus of these armed insurrectionists. The white nationalist movement which includes organization such as Vanguard America, and Identity Evropa, are overtly committed to ethnic cleansing. The night before the Charlottesville melee, armed torch-bearing men surrounded a church where members of the African American, LGBT, left activist and Latino communities met with clergy to pray for peace. Cornell West, who was trapped in the church said that if it weren’t for antifa activists escorting them to safety that they would have been “crushed,” indicating that the fascist display was meant to do more than simply “send a message.”
Indeed, one of the memo’s stated objectives is the formation of a “counter-state,” which tracks with the white nationalist goal of an “ethno-state.” Christopher Cantwell, a white nationalist slated to address the rally in Charlottesville, said in a VICE interview that their goal is a whites-only ‘Homeland.’ “I think a lot more people are going to die before we’re done here,” said Cantwell.
“We want an ethno-state. The fact that they resist us when we say ‘we want a Homeland’ is not shocking to me.” Cantwell, who also runs a YouTube channel boasted there would be more bloodshed in addition to the 32-year old woman, Heather Heyer, who was killed when a member of the alt-right rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protestors. “These people want violence and the right is just meeting market demand.”
This act of terror—using a car as a weapon—was apparently so compelling that it was repeated by ISIL twice this week in Spain. On Thursday, Barcelona and Cambrils both had car attacks with a combined death toll that has reached 14. More than 100 were injured. Police moved quickly to find other members of the terror cell, who they discovered were planning a larger attack with nerve gas—a scenario ripped from the script of last season’s Homeland. Contrast this with the police response in Charlottesville, which was entirely missing-in-action.
Pro Publica reported on the day of the terror attack that police were told to “stand down.” Days later, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said that the reason the police stood by watching was that they were out-gunned by the alt-right militia who wore full tactical body armor and openly carried machine guns.
In another example of police negligence, neo-nazis who beat Deandre Harris nearly to death in a parking garage next-door to the police station are still at-large despite being identified. Harris says police have been indifferent to his attack. If police in Spain had been indifferent to the terror attacks on Thursday they would now be facing a nerve gas attack.
What is really going on here?
Members of the alt-right, some who carried Blue Lives Matter flags, say they feel betrayed by the lack of police protection. Maybe that was a tactical decision. Maybe that’s the cost of marching through someone else’s hometown carrying torches and machine guns. But there is no denying that if this were a Black Lives Matter protest and the African American community showed up with machine guns, the police response would have been much different.
Trump has made a big show of blaming “many sides,” as if there is another “side” to residents of Charlottesville being terrorized by machine gun-wielding gangs marching with torches, calling for an ethno-state. Following the lead of mainstream Democratic scribes, Trump invoked the “alt-left” smear to draw a false equivalence between those who threaten violence and those who dare to stand in its way. Perhaps he felt he could peel Dem establishment over to his side by driving a wedge between them and the left. But many mainstream Dems have since denounced the use of the smear, hopefully signaling a break in the establishment’s long battle against the left.
Will it work?
When you get right down to it, the elite has always told the rest of us who to fight. Wars are started by moneyed interests with other people doing their dirty work. “Covert actions” in small, resource-rich, strategic countries such as Venezuela and Ukraine, leverage instability to redesign the state. Perhaps the truth of the matter is that tough-guy members of the alt-right are just puppets in Trump’s political war.
White nationalists have been agitating on college campuses for years with Richard Spencer and his nazi brotherhood provoking fights in the name of “freedom of speech.” Each one of these university speaking events has been designed to create maximum disruption and conflict. These confrontations are no more about free speech as GamerGate was about ethics in gaming journalism. They’re provocations meant to achieve political ends.
The effectiveness of Trump’s political warfare campaign will be measured in his ability to sow unrest throughout the country, and the armed white nationalists of the alt-right are on board with that agenda. Those of us who care about living in a civilized society would be wise to resist this movement at every turn. Freedom of speech is not freedom to dismantle our democracy.
Bannon’s firing was likely made easier by public outcry in the wake of Charlottesville. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was clearly not amused by Trump diminishing of the violence.