Bannon’s Radio Free China
During the Cold War, Radio Free Europe (RFE) broadcast anti-communist messaging to countries behind the Iron Curtain. In addition to providing hope to victims of leftism and countering the official Soviet narrative, RFE shored up hope for change. The efficacy and threat of this Western-backed and -operated “free flow of information” was recognized by the Soviet Union, such that in 1981, RFE’s Munich headquarters were bombed by Carlos the Jackal under the orders of the Stasi.
Seventy-one-years after RFE’s inception and twenty-nine-years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the West continues to “provide accurate and timely news and information to…countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press,” only now it is targeting a new audience: the Chinese people, along with North Koreans, Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Burmese listeners. Radio Free Asia began broadcasting in 1996, but the CCP has managed, in large part due to its great firewall, to jam the signal.
Behind the Chinese firewall are over 1.3 billion people. Among the 1.3 billion, only 90.6 million are members of the Chinese Communist Party, and of that number, there are fewer than 5,000 that wield real power. The value and importance of connecting a western, anti-totalitarian message with the hundreds of millions of Chinese persecuted, tortured, brainwashed, and cowed by Xi Jinping’s murderous regime—to provide some semblance of hope and international camaraderie—cannot be underestimated. After all, as The Hill reported in 2017, China spends over $10Bn a year expanding its soft power in the form of CCP propaganda for which there must be a counter. Such a crucial humanitarian and political mission cannot be left to a single organization or broadcaster, especially when RFA’s budget remains under $50M. Thankfully, there is another messenger addressing Old Hundred Names (i.e. 老百姓), and discussing change, hope, and action. In the matter of a couple of months, that messenger has done enough damage to the CCP’s credibility to draw its ire as the RFE had the Soviets’…
New York Magazine’s Ben Jacobs wrote in January, “He may not have succeeded as Trump’s Karl Rove, but Bannon could still end up becoming the MAGA Rachel Maddow.” I won’t make any assumptions about Jacobs’ imagination, but given the international impact of Bannon’s messaging, Russia-will-turn-the-power-off-Maddow is totally insignificant in relative terms or rather, Bannon has far surpassed her import. Bannon is making giant international waves. He has not only reinforced Radio Free Asia’s efforts, but has himself—along with Raheem Kassam, Jason Miller, Jack Maxey, and Vish Burra—become Radio Free China. Recognizing War Room Pandemic’s reach and the clarity of its message, the CCP’s media arm has attempted to throttle Bannon or at the very least smack some fear into him. CGTN recently called Bannon “A Modern Day Demagogue” and lashed out again the next day to note that he “can’t be trusted.” What is Bannon doing and saying that has the Chinese Communists gnashing their teeth and working their 50 Cent Army (i.e. 五毛党) overtime?
Stephen K. Bannon—the pugnacious Irish Catholic American and former naval officer of working-class stock who worked with Jeff Sessions on what merged with Trump’s to become the MAGA populist promise—was chief executive of the Trump campaign from August 2016 onward. On Billy-Bush-Weekend (right after the Access Hollywood tape surfaced), Bannon was among the few in Trump’s circle who knew that “locker-room talk” wouldn’t be a lethal blow if Trump would stick to his message. At the time, he told Trump his chances of winning were 100%, and he wasn’t wrong. In fact, Bannon oversaw a landslide electoral-college victory, the emasculation of the RINO never-Trumpers, and the implosion of the Democrat party (which they continue to attribute to Russian bots), and went on to become the President’s chief strategist and senior counselor for a one-year term. Since his ejection from the Trump team, Bannon has gone on to found the Movement, a loose-affiliation of conservative and economically-nationalist populist movements throughout Europe, and is now gunning to upset Xi Jinping’s 100-year marathon.
Bannon took Strauss and Howe’s generational theory to heart, which ultimately posits that—like the seasons—American society goes through four phases every ninety-years-or-so. These phases correspond to generational patterns. Ultimately, good times make weak people, weak people make hard times, hard times create strong people, and strong people create good times. These seasons have cycled back for hundreds of years. Even skeptics must admit of some undeniable patterns that are once again repeating. Once again—thinks Strauss, Howe, and now Bannon—we are at a cataclysmic turning, the fourth to be specific. Although this turning arguably began on September 11th, 2001, and was accelerated by the corporate bailouts in 2008 and, at that stage, the biggest transfer of wealth in world history, this CCP-virus pandemic is the real cataclysm Bannon anticipated. This Chinese-facilitated crisis, exacerbated globally by weak men, presents an opportunity for great change and a fundamental reorientation of national priorities and global powers.
Prior to delving further into Bannon’s China-focus, it is worth touching upon his worldview. Bannon has a Chestertonian antipathy for big government and corporatism (i.e. hudge and gudge). He routinely reiterates his Paulist loathing for the 2008 bailouts and for how the Obama administration took care of their Wall Street friends while Main Street USA languished and out fell the bottom on the American middle class. Bannon’s anger over the liberal world order’s detachment from working-class Americans is nowhere better expressed than in his debate on populism with Bush-speechwriter David Frum. For too long, the American people have allowed their elites to hollow out industry at home; sacrifice their children’s lives and treasure on pointless regime change wars; and diminish those institutions and religious values that have kept the country together (and which Tocqueville, Madison, and Washington saw as essential). Among the elite that Bannon rallies against—the same that he took on via Breitbart and who sought to end Trump in 2016—are the Kissinger types who kissed Uncle Sam and took their thirty pieces in exchange for America’s managed decline. Accordingly, Bannon rejects Graham Allison’s conclusions in Destined for War concerning Thucydides’ trap, especially where China is concerned. He believes that those who argue in favor of exiting America from the world stage and getting out of the way of an atheistic, collectivistic, totalitarian China are not just Xi’s “running dogs” but traitors who should be held accountable. Keith Koffler nicely summarizes Bannon’s foes in the final lines of his biography, Always the Rebel:
Before him lay a vast political campaign—against the radical Islamists; against the mercantilist Chinese; against the Left and Antifa; against the globalists on Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the Washington establishment; against the craven Republican accomodationists who feared the liberal media and were weak and ineffective allies for Trump. Against them all, he was ready to fight to the end—a rebel to the last.
The rebel Bannon, alternatively depicted by New York and Hollywood’s media class as a vindictive and racist monster, is the brawler for the little guy; an f-bomb dropping, red-faced Sam Gamgee.
Going into 2019, Bannon was well-aware of the power of the left-wing and establishment media, particularly with regards to manufacturing consent and shaping public opinion. After all, he had run Breitbart as the populist-right’s answer to The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The Economist. Along with Andrew Breitbart, he had studied his enemy, replicated the tactics they used successfully, and fought fire with fire. He knew that CNN and MSNBC had long-ago become the media extensions of the DNC, and that of the 97% of American news publications that had endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, all were now actively working to provide ground support for the deep state and FBI’s soft coup, wittingly or not. Even Fox News, barring Carlson and Hannity, had maintained deep fealty to the RINOs that Trump had deftly neutered. Someone had to amplify the signal and ignore the noise. Bannon was willing, but he needed a robust team. He called on: a former partner and executive VP at Jamestown Associates who had been the chief spokesman for Trump’s fall 2016 campaign (Jason Miller); the former Editor in Chief at Breitbart London who had also been the chief adviser to UKIP’s historical Nigel Farage (Raheem Kassam); Virginia’s “political kingmaker” (John Fredericks); a veteran operative and celebrated patriot (Jack Maxey); and the head of the Yorkville Group (Vish Burra), among others. With Voice of America behind them, Bannon’s War Room—now staffed with officers and soldiers—was ready for action.
In the fall of ’19, at the height of the Russian Collusion Delusion and with partisan gas lights in New York and Los Angeles threatening to undermine Trump’s presidency, Bannon declared war. In the basement of his Capitol Hill townhouse—formerly known as the Breitbart embassy—Bannon kicked off a counter-insurgency podcast and radio show entitled War Room [Impeachment]. (I won’t dwell on the Impeachment show, as others have covered it rather well.) At the start of the New Year, Bannon changed gears. He began discussing the CCP Virus and the Chinese government’s culpability for what has since become a global pandemic; one that has claimed the lives of over 80,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of others internationally, as well as sent the world into a global depression. Nearing February, Bannon and his team devoted less and less time to the impeachment charade, and more to the grossly overlooked mayhem taking place in China’s Hubei province. When Trump was acquitted on both counts by the Senate, there was no need to dwell on the impeachment scandal. Besides, the cold war between America and China that the mainstream media had ignored was warming up; millions of Chinese were being welded into their apartments or dragged into the streets; and dozens of industrial incinerators—for China’s flu-decimated pigs or its citizens, it’s still not clear—ran nonstop in Wuhan.
Bannon has compared the CCP to the Nazis, and rightfully so. Consider: the hundreds of millions of coerced abortions and sterilizations carried out under the CCP’s eugenicist One Child Policy; the persecution of house Christians, the underground Catholic Church, and the Falun Gong; the internment of millions of Uighur Muslims in concentration camps; the clamp-down on dissent under the CCP’s new dehumanizing social credit surveillance program; the CCP’s harassment, persecution, and encroachments on Tibet, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and its other neighbors on the East Sea as well as its creation of illegal maritime fortresses; the CCP’s predacious One Belt One Road program, which it uses to bankrupt developing nations and secure regions with geostrategic value for future plunder and military advantage; China’s cyber espionage and ongoing theft of western IPs; the CCP’s currency manipulation; and the 46 million Chinese the CCP murdered in its so-called great leap forward. So when Bannon and his team were finished ensuring that the American deplorables would not lose their captain due to the bogus impeachment charges brought against Trump, they saw an opportunity to help the Chinese deplorables—and in so doing, unify, strengthen, and embolden America in the face of an existential threat and for the cause of liberty.
Channeling Fulton Sheen—who pointed out in 1955 that only 3% of the population of Russia belonged to the Communist Party—Bannon pointed out early on in his War Room coverage that the Chinese people are not the enemy. In fact, they are the first victims of America’s enemy, the Chinese Communist Party. Before China was putting Americans out of work, it was snuffing Chinese baby girls out of existence. Around the time Xi Jinping denied his father and broke rocks for Mao, tens of millions of Chinese were run over, shot, and starved by the same threat that now seeks to reign over Asia, to bring India to heel, and to punish Korea and Japan for crimes long-forgotten with crimes unforgettable. It is for this reason that there are two targets for Bannon’s Radio Free China: first, the American people whose elites have sold them and their children out to the communist Chinese who, through deception, information warfare, and trade warfare, have put them out of work, hospitalized their loved ones, and destroyed their economy; and second, the Chinese people who have never been free.
On the matter of the first, it was War Room Pandemic that gave Senator Cotton a platform when everywhere else he was derided for pointing out that: the CCP virus did not originate in a wet market but rather in a level-four lab; that the CCP lied about human-to-human transmission via the World Health Organization, arrested whistle-blowers, silenced scientists sounding the alarm, and allowed international travel out of Wuhan while all domestic travel to and from Wuhan was prohibited. In addition to Cotton, Bannon has hosted dozens of experts from around the world while amplifying the message of patriots keen on action, such as Congressman Matt Gaetz and China-expert Jack Posobiec. Where their American audience is concerned, War Room is championing the America-First populist cause (what Sohrab Ahmari might call common good conservatism)—to make citizenship mean something again, to find common cause in common values, and all that both require.
On the matter of the War Room’s second target, Bannon and his team seek to channel their pro-democracy populist discourse over to the Chinese people via Nexus.org and VPNs, and it is for this reason that the show is translated into Mandarin. To anyone who might accuse the War Room team of xenophobia: what kind of –phobe seeks to improve the life, well-being, and agency of the Other? To urge her to persevere and to continue her fight against evil and oppression?
Radio Free Asia is not alone in the information war focused on liberating the Chinese people and unburdening the world from the totalitarian, murderous CCP. It has fighting alongside it Radio Free China, helmed by Stephen Bannon who routinely vows: “Yes, we are coming for you—the Chinese Communist Party—and yes, we will overcome and defeat you like we defeated the fascists and the Nazis and the commissars in the Soviet Union.” It’s not the war to end all wars, but it’s a just war and it’s damned good thing Steve is on our side.