Robert Kuttner, a writer for The American Prospect, wrote that he was stunned to receive a personal phone call from White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon Tuesday afternoon, following a press conference held by President Trump regarding the events that had occurred in Charlottesville.
“I was a little stunned to get an email from Bannon’s assistant midday Tuesday, just as all hell was breaking loose once again about Charlottesville, saying that Bannon wished to meet with me,” Kuttner wrote.
Kuttner reports that Bannon called to commend him on an article about China and, though he now claims he thought the conversation was “off the record,” Kuttner says no mention was ever made as to whether it was on or off the record.
““We’re at economic war with China,” Bannon said in the phone call. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow.”
““To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”
On North Korea, Bannon did not echo President Trump’s “fire and fury” position, saying, “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats]. Forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about; there’s no military solution here, they got us.”
After the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, tensions have increased between the “far right” and the left. Bannon, the former top executive at Breitbart, has been accused by the left of being on the “far right,” and has even been labeled by the left as a “white supremacist.” However, Bannon actually condemned the far right as “clowns” in the interview:
He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it: “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”
“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.
From his lips to Trump’s ear.
“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
Regarding “internal adversaries” within the U.S. government, Bannon had this response:
But what about his internal adversaries, at the departments of State and Defense, who think the United States can enlist Beijing’s aid on the North Korean standoff, and at Treasury and the National Economic Council who don’t want to mess with the trading system?
“Oh, they’re wetting themselves,” he said, explaining that the Section 301 complaint, which was put on hold when the war of threats with North Korea broke out, was shelved only temporarily, and will be revived in three weeks. As for other cabinet departments, Bannon has big plans to marginalize their influence.
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