…for Bannon, and many on the Trumpian right, the crucial political divide in today’s world is between internationalists (who they call “globalists”) and nationalists. Internationalists believe in universal principles like human rights, international law and free trade. They see their countries less as ends in and of themselves than as means for achieving these broader principles.
That’s why they support foreign aid and humanitarian wars even when they don’t serve any direct national interest. It’s why they support admitting refugees even if vetting and settling them poses a challenge. It’s why they support free trade, which they believe enhances global prosperity and peace, even if it dislocates people at home.
Not all internationalists believe in all the same principles. Left-wing internationalists like Bernie Sanders support foreign aid and refugee resettlement but not humanitarian intervention and free trade. For right-wing internationalists like Bill Kristol, it’s closer to the reverse. But while they fight about which principles the United States should champion, left and right internationalists agree that the United States is a vehicle for causes greater than itself. They see America as not merely a nation but an idea.
Bannon and Trump reject that. They believe that when American elites pursue their universalist agendas, ordinary Americans get screwed. American kids die in military interventions. American workers lose their jobs as the result of trade deals. Americans lose their lives because refugees commit terrorism. Nationalists like Bannon and Trump think that when internationalists appeal to moral principle, they’re utterly phony. It’s a cover for their own interests. As economic elites, they benefit from freer trade and immigration. It’s not their kids who fight the nation’s wars.
Seen from this perspective, American Jews and Israel look utterly different. American Jews are among the most internationalist populations in the United States. Their historical memory makes them sympathetic to immigrants. And given their class position, they rarely compete with low-skilled immigrants for jobs. Their historical memory also makes them fear isolationism.
Peter Beinart, “Why Steve Bannon likes nationalist Israel but dislikes internationalist American Jews”, Haaretz (23 November 2016) [http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.754805]