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    White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon departs after a meeting about the American Health Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. (File)

    American Icarus: What's Behind Steve Bannon's Rise and Fall

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    Ekaterina Blinova
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    The US president's former adviser Steve Bannon's swift rise and fall has triggered a heated debate among analysts. Speaking to Sputnik, CCTV Panview commentator Tom McGregor and Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel shared their views on the reasons behind Bannon's departure from the White House and Breitbart.

    US President Donald Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon was forced out of Breitbart News on Tuesday; Speaking to Sputnik, Beijing-based CCTV Panview editor and commentator Tom McGregor said that the fall of Bannon resembles nothing short of the Greek myth of Icarus.

    "Icarus is a tale about a young man who gets wings to fly, but despite his father's warning, he flies too high in the sky and his wings melt that results in him falling to his death," McGregor told Sputnik. "[Bannon] just got lucky, being at the right place at the right time. But he was mentally ill-prepared to handle the new-found stardom as chief strategist in the White House. He allowed the sudden success to boost his ego."

    According to reports, Bannon's ouster was pushed by Rebekah Mercer, a major financial patron of Breitbart, over the 64-year-old's remarks about Donald Trump, Jr.'s "treasonous" behavior which found their way into Michael Wolff's book "Fire and Fury."

    Bannon Fell Easy Prey to Guo Wengui, Hong Kong Dissidents

    Besides what he saw as a "betrayal" of Donald Trump, McGregor bemoaned the fact that Breitbart had adopted a harsh stance on China under Bannon, the media outlet's former executive chairman.

    "Breitbart's news coverage on China has appeared most troublesome," McGregor suggested, referring to the media outlet's coverage of the story of a Chinese fugitive billionaire, Guo Wengui, who is currently hiding in the US.

    Bannon and Guo met in October 2017; the magnate shared his photos with the Breitbart executive chairman on his personal Twitter account.

    Mr. Bannon has been with my friend through the past six months. But always failed to meet! October 5 Washington after the press conference. I asked Mr. Yang Jianli to lunch with Mr. Bannon in my room with me! We are extremely excited! Today, October 10, Mr. Bannon and my team went to New York with my family for 3 and a half hours for dinner! I and he and his team agreed to send me some of these pictures!

    The tycoon is under investigation for several criminal cases committed in China, including fraud, money laundering, bribing a Chinese intelligence official and kidnapping.

    Given Guo's harsh criticism of Beijing, the fugitive billionaire may become a "ticking time bomb for US-China ties in Trump's era," Ankit Panda of The Diplomat remarked in October 2017.

    Commenting on Bannon's tough stance on China, McGregor suggested that it could have been formed when the former Trump adviser was working in the video game industry in Hong Kong in the 2000s.

    "This is important to note, because many Hong Kongers suffer from what's commonly known as BDS (Beijing Derangement Syndrome)," the CCTV commentator presumed. "They hate China Mainland with a strong passion. Therefore, Bannon had received much of his analysis on China from BDS folks in Hong Kong. When you have BDS you are expected to think about the Chinese government in the most vile of terms."

    The journalist suggested that Bannon could have been tricked by Hong Kong dissidents, and people like Michael Wolff and Guo Wengui.

    "It's my belief that Bannon had his heart in the right place but received and believed deeply misguided views of China," McGregor said. "Bannon was not the man to help Trump drain the swamp, because it was so easy for tricksters to deceive him."

    "Fortunately, Trump is no longer on speaking terms with Bannon, so I anticipate to witness better US-China relations in the near future," the journalist remarked.

    Interpretive park ranger Caitlin Kostic, center, gives a tour near the high-water mark of the Confederacy at Gettysburg National Military Park to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and campaign CEO Steve Bannon, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Gettysburg.
    © AP Photo / Evan Vucci
    Interpretive park ranger Caitlin Kostic, center, gives a tour near the high-water mark of the Confederacy at Gettysburg National Military Park to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and campaign CEO Steve Bannon, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Gettysburg.

    Trump, Bannon 'May Patch Things Up' in the Future

    According to Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst who exposed General Electrics' financial discrepancies in 2007, only "history will explain" what actually triggered the Trump-Bannon split and caused the latter's departure from the Trump administration and then from Breitbart.

    "While Bannon and Trump have known one another for some time, Steve joined the Trump campaign during the final 're-boot' where he was instrumental working for a phenomenal candidate who has a close family and many long-time friends and supporters," Ortel told Sputnik.

    The analyst suggested that "it is always a mistake for an advisor to become too visible in comparison to a principal, so it would seem part of Steve's troubles with the President and with his family may have started with his appearance on the cover of Time Magazine, with the inference that he was some kind of power behind the throne, and then escalated."

    Commenting on the controversy surrounding Bannon's remarks cited by Wolff, Ortel noted that he has not seen clear answers as to "who may have allowed this author to gain access to as many people as Wolff may have interviewed."

    "One does wonder who let Wolff anywhere near the White House, how this book project originated, and who may have negotiated to gain access to senior White House personnel," the analyst said. "In the end, I suspect this book will do most damage to reputations of the author and of the team that published and promoted the work."

    The Wall Street analyst also shared his views on potential reasons behind Breitbart and Bannon's criticism of China.

    "My analysis of Chinese economic data (see UNCTAD databases) suggests that China has been building a monstrous set of bubbles at home (real estate, manufacturing capacity, infrastructure), promoting its exports, but making it tough for foreign businesses to sell goods and services inside China," the Wall Street analyst noted.

    According to Ortel, part of animus against China stems from a perception of unequal treatment: "We seem to suffer unequal treatment when it comes to economics and business, and Chinese businesses still do not report as transparently as one might hope concerning their actual financial results and positions."

    Another part stems from concern over China's military build-up and assertiveness, especially in the Pacific region, the analyst assumed.

    "As in domestic matters, I think Bannon, Breitbart, and most in this country embrace tough, but fair competition and the hope that consequential nations can find numerous ways to cooperate to mutual benefit, avoiding potential for conflict," Ortel stressed.

    Summarizing his views on the Trump-Bannon rift, the Wall Street analyst highlighted that "Steve has done tremendous good work for the President, so I hope they patch things up and continue to work together productively."

    "I note that President Trump will give out awards for 'Fake News' on January 17, 2018 — it would not surprise me that we learn more about the Bannon and Trump relationship either then or after then," he said. "Finally, I note that President Trump has had tough things to say about people, but later managed to find ways to get along again."

    Following the publication of Wolff's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," Bannon apologized for controversial comments about Donald Trump Jr., which was largely seen by the Trump camp as too little and too late. For his part, the US president claimed that Bannon had "lost his mind" and dubbed his former adviser "Sloppy Steve" in one of his tweets.

    The views and opinions expressed by Tom McGregor, Charles Ortel and Ekaterina Blinova are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Related:

    Journalist: Steve Bannon's Departure is ‘Going to Hurt Breitbart a Lot'
    Steve Bannon Forced Out at Breitbart
    Bannon on Wolff's Fire & Fury: I Meant Manafort, Trump Jr. Committed No Treason
    Trump-Bannon Battle Heats Up: Former Ally ‘Wants the President to Fail’
    White House Denies Rumors Cell Phones Ban Was Reaction to Bannon's Disclosures
    Tags:
    political ambitions, controversy, ouster, Breitbart, U.S. Department of State, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump Jr, Donald Trump, China, United States
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