President Trump Decides New Afghanistan Strategy as Bannon Removed from White House

21 August 2017 – THE CIPHER LETTTER – President Donald Trump will speak to the nation directly Monday night, the White House announced, to discuss his Administration’s strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia writ large.
The announcement came just days after Trump held a high-level strategy meeting at Camp David that Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters yielded a decision on the U.S.’ future approach to the war in Afghanistan. Simultaneously, the White House announced that Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist to the President, would be leaving the Administration.
During his tenure in the West Wing, Bannon disagreed regularly with Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on key policy matters including China and Afghanistan, reportedly clashed at every turn with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and was added but then removed from the National Security Council’s principals committee.
According to Cipher Brief Expert and former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, “Bannon’s departure seems welcome because of his stunningly destructive influence on policy
deliberations undertaken by the Trump administration.”
The Afghanistan debate – in which Bannon advocated for a smaller U.S. footprint and the heavy use of contractors  – served as a microcosm of a larger, philosophical debate between himself and the foreign policy “establishment,” including Chief of Staff John Kelly, McMaster, Mattis and Tillerson.

Bannon advocated against the “globalists” in the administration as well as international structures such as the European Union, the United Nations and military intervention. Even North Korea was labeled “a sideshow” in Bannon’s terms.
Bannon’s focus remained squarely on China. He openly spoke about how “economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that.” 
So what impact will his departure from the White House have on national security? Read our Network’s take here.
As for Afghanistan, General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA, told The Cipher Brief, “the President didn’t run on policies; he ran on attitudes. And now, we’re going to see which of his many attitudes he’s going to apply to what has to be a fairly binary policy decision. And so we’ll see…the options are limited.”