WHITE HOUSE STRATEGIST Steve Bannon has criticised the far-right in a surprise interview with American Prospect, a left-leaning political website.
Far from defending US President Donald Trump, Bannon spoke with disdain about the white nationalist movement he helped cultivate as a former head of far-right website Breitbart.
“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,” he was quoted as saying.
“These guys are a collection of clowns.”
Bannon, an economic nationalist and former CEO of Breitbart, is reported to be on shaky ground with Trump, who gave him only a tepid endorsement this week.
In a frank telephone interview with American Prospect editor Robert Kuttner, Bannon talked about the infighting in the White House – now engulfed in a storm over Trump’s defensive response to deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia last weekend.
Bannon argued that the United States is in an “economic war” with China, and the confrontation with nuclear-armed North Korea is just “a sideshow”.
“To me 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, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover,” he said.
Bannon was also dismissive of Trump’s vow to bring down “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continued to threaten the US with missiles and nuclear weapons.
“There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it,” he said.
“Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 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.”
According to Kuttner’s account, Bannon described his fight within the administration to take a harder line against China’s trade practices, and not fall into the trap of hoping China would play the role of honest broker in restraining North Korea.
“We’re at economic war with China,” he said.
“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.
Bannon said his adversaries in the State Department and Defense Department who want to enlist China’s help are “wetting themselves”.
“We gotta do this. The president’s default position is to do it, but the apparatus is going crazy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s like, every day.”