Populists of the World Unite
Former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon's starring role at the recent convention of France's far-right National Front is the latest indication that a transatlantic populist alliance is forming. Can it be stopped?
PARIS – In 1965, Henry Kissinger wrote a book called The Troubled Partnership, in which he examined the tensions affecting the transatlantic alliance during the Cold War. A stable international order, he argued, demanded the leadership of the United States – a powerful model for democracy in the world – supported by strong ties with Europe. Kissinger probably never would have imagined that, less than six decades later, the US would be playing precisely the opposite role, as a new, darker version of the transatlantic alliance emerges.
Consider last week’s convention of France’s far-right National Front. Upon being re-elected leader of the party, Marine Le Pen announced that it was to be renamed Rassemblement National (National Rally). The guest of honor at this consequential event was none other than Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon.
“All great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice,” Karl Marx famously wrote, “the first time as tragedy, second as farce.” It would be easy to place the convention in Lille in the “farce” category. After all, Le Pen and Bannon are both political rejects.