Bannon’s disregard of ethno-nationalism is “leaked.”

Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 17 August 2017 12:38.

        ...purposefully leaked or not, apparently kissing-up to YKW

Robert Kuttner revealed his conversation with Bannon: “To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything.” ... “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.

American Prospect, “Steve Bannon, Unrepentant”, by Robert Kuttner, 16 Aug 2017:

Trump’s embattled strategist phones me, unbidden, to opine on China, Korea, and his enemies in the administration.

You might think from recent press accounts that Steve Bannon is on the ropes and therefore behaving prudently. In the aftermath of events in Charlottesville, he is widely blamed for his boss’s continuing indulgence of white supremacists. Allies of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster hold Bannon responsible for a campaign by Breitbart News, which Bannon once led, to vilify the security chief. Trump’s defense of Bannon, at his Tuesday press conference, was tepid.

But Bannon was in high spirits when he phoned me Tuesday afternoon to discuss the politics of taking a harder line with China, and minced no words describing his efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury. “They’re wetting themselves,” he said, proceeding to detail how he would oust some of his opponents at State and Defense.

Needless to say, 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.

Needless to say, 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. I’d just published a column on how China was profiting from the U.S.-North Korea nuclear brinkmanship, and it included some choice words about Bannon’s boss.

“In Kim, Trump has met his match,” I wrote. “The risk of two arrogant fools blundering into a nuclear exchange is more serious than at any time since October 1962.” Maybe Bannon wanted to scream at me?

I told the assistant that I was on vacation, but I would be happy to speak by phone. Bannon promptly called.

Far from dressing me down for comparing Trump to Kim, he began, “It’s a great honor to finally track you down. I’ve followed your writing for years and I think you and I are in the same boat when it comes to China.  You absolutely nailed it.”

“We’re at economic war with China,” he added. “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 he might consider a deal in which China got North Korea to freeze its nuclear buildup with verifiable inspections and the United States removed its troops from the peninsula, but such a deal seemed remote. Given that China is not likely to do much more on North Korea, and that the logic of mutually assured destruction was its own source of restraint, Bannon saw no reason not to proceed with tough trade sanctions against China.

Contrary to Trump’s threat of fire and fury, Bannon said: “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.” Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim.

“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.”

Bannon’s plan of attack includes: a complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping. “We’re going to run the tables on these guys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.”

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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“I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”

But can Bannon really win that fight internally?

“That’s a fight I fight every day here,” he said. “We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and [National Economic Council chair] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying.”

“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.”

Bannon explained that his strategy is to battle the trade doves inside the administration while building an outside coalition of trade hawks that includes left as well as right. Hence the phone call to me.

There are a couple of things that are startling about this premise. First, to the extent that most of the opponents of Bannon’s China trade strategy are other Trump administration officials, it’s not clear how reaching out to the left helps him. If anything, it gives his adversaries ammunition to characterize Bannon as unreliable or disloyal.

More puzzling is the fact that Bannon would phone a writer and editor of a progressive publication (the cover lines on whose first two issues after Trump’s election were “Resisting Trump” and “Containing Trump”) and assume that a possible convergence of views on China trade might somehow paper over the political and moral chasm on white nationalism.

The question of whether the phone call was on or off the record never came up. This is also puzzling, since Steve Bannon is not exactly Bambi when it comes to dealing with the press. He’s probably the most media-savvy person in America.

I asked Bannon about the connection between his program of economic nationalism and the ugly white nationalism epitomized by the racist violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s reluctance to condemn it. Bannon, after all, was the architect of the strategy of using Breitbart to heat up white nationalism and then rely on the radical right as Trump’s base.

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.”

I had never before spoken with Bannon. I came away from the conversation with a sense both of his savvy and his recklessness. The waters around him are rising, but he is going about his business of infighting, and attempting to cultivate improbable outside allies, to promote his China strategy. His enemies will do what they do.

Either the reports of the threats to Bannon’s job are grossly exaggerated and leaked by his rivals, or he has decided not to change his routine and to go down fighting. Given Trump’s impulsivity, neither Bannon nor Trump really has any idea from day to day whether Bannon is staying or going. He has survived earlier threats. So what the hell, damn the torpedoes.

The conversation ended with Bannon inviting me to the White House after Labor Day to continue the discussion of China and trade. We’ll see if he’s still there.



Comments:


1

Posted by Bannon said to have tendered resignation on Fri, 18 Aug 2017 12:58 | #

Breitbart, “UPDATE: The White House confirms with a statement from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best”, 18 Aug 2017:

Maggie Haberman reports that President Donald Trump plans to remove White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News. She writes that Bannon submitted his resignation from the White House over a week ago.

From the New York Times:

President Trump has told senior aides that he has decided to remove Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Mr. Trump win the 2016 election, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion.

The president and senior White House officials were debating when and how to dismiss Mr. Bannon. The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time.

As of Friday morning, the two men were still discussing Mr. Bannon’s future, the officials said. A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but it was delayed in the wake of the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va.


2

Posted by Ivanka, Jared pushed for Bannon's ousting on Sun, 20 Aug 2017 06:02 | #

Daily Mail, “How Jewish convert Ivanka got ‘Bannon the Barbarian’ to go: Trump’s daughter ‘helped to force out’ aide blamed over President’s failure to condemn neo-Nazi rally”, 20 Aug 2017:

  Chief strategist Bannon, 63, helped orchestrate the President’s election victory
  But many blamed him for Trump’s failure last week to condemn neo-Nazis
  ‘Pushed out’ by daughter Ivanka and her husband because his far-Right views


Donald Trump’s controversial aide Steve Bannon was ‘pushed out’ by his daughter Ivanka and her husband because his far-Right views clashed with their Jewish faith, according to Washington sources.

Chief strategist Bannon, 63, helped orchestrate the US President’s stunning election victory but was vilified for his extreme opinions.

Many blamed him for Trump’s failure last week to condemn neo-Nazis after a violent rally in Virginia at which a woman was killed and dozens were injured.

First daughter Ivanka converted to Orthodox Judaism when she wed millionaire businessman Jared Kushner in 2009.

The couple have three children. A source said: ‘Jared and Ivanka helped push him out. They were concerned about how they were being viewed by the Jewish community.’

The couple’s Rabbi Emeritus Haskel Lookstein wrote a letter condemning ‘this resurgence of bigotry and anti-Semitism and the renewed vigour of the neo-Nazis, KKK and alt-Right’ in a letter posted on the Facebook site of the synagogue the pair attend.

Bannon’s ousting was ‘done to save the Presidency’, a source close to Ivanka claimed. ‘Him leaving changes everything.’

Bannon – whose nickname is ‘Bannon the Barbarian’ – is the founder of Right-wing news site Breitbart, which has rallied against Jews and Muslims.

He is widely credited with building Trump’s support with America’s extreme ‘alt-Right’, which helped win the Presidency.

       

Aol. com, “Rabbi close to Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner slams President Trump’s Charlottesville rhetoric”


3

Posted by Kuttner on his interview with Bannon on Fri, 25 Aug 2017 17:51 | #

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now:Bannon’s departure came after a series of meetings last week with billionaire funder Robert Mercer who funds Breitbart and funded Trump’s campaign. Bannon met with Mercer on Wednesday and Trump met with Mercer on Thursday. Bannon departed the White house the following day.

Just before he was ousted, Steve Bannon granted an extraordinary interview to Bob Kuttner, co-editor and co-editor of the liberal magazine the American Prospect

American Prospect Editor Robert Kuttner on His Extraordinary Interview with Steve Bannon:

Robert Kuttner“Every once in a while you get lucky as a journalist, and he never bothered to put the conversation off the record. As you know in journalism if a high public official or anybody calls you and doesn’t bother to say that its off the record it’s the default is that its on the record ...and he proceeded to say a bunch of staggeringly incuatious things; on the assumption because I had also criticized America’s China policy as having been dominated by corporations at the expense of workers; and because that sort of overlapped his critique that we were sort of old buddies and soul-mates…and he spent to first few minutes of the interview kind of ingratiating himself with me, telling me what a thrill it was to meet me after all these years, he’s been reading my stuff…

It was one part naivete (which is an odd word to use for Bannon), it was one part bravado, it was one part recklessness, and it was weird, because if he knew that he he was on thin ice, what’s he doing reaching out to me? Can you imagine Bannon trotting into a meeting of the National Security Council saying, “you’ll never guess who agrees with my analysis, Bob Kuttner’ ...that would push him over the edge and in fact it kind of did.”

... (the best explanation is that) he was on the ropes and he was negotiating with General Kelley and Trump to postpone his departure to after labor day and he thought he could rally his forces on let’s get tough with China….

....if he’d already been fired it would have been completely bizarre that he would have called me and said, ‘hey won’t you come to the White house?’ because that would have been complete fantasy land.

...this is not the world’s most stable person; on the other hand he has a very strategic analysis of how you connect ‘neo-Nazi’, ‘White supremacy’ nationalism to economic nationalism. What’s interesting here is that he’s been able to sell his boss, Trump, on the get in bed with the White supremacist parts of nationalism but he hasn’t been able to sell the rest of the administration on economic nationalism because of course they’re in bed with the corporations; its complete fake populism:

The most recent example of that is the idea that he would use crony capitalism, hiring these private armies and masquerade as isolationism. Who does he think pays for those private armies? It’s the US taxpayer and expensive as the pentagon is, these private armies are even more wasteful and more expensive; so he’s all over the map on a lot of stuff.

But on one thing he’s quite coherent and that came through in the interview: he thinks the winning strategy is, you connect racist nationalism, anti-immigrant nationalism, to economic nationalism.

The other interesting question going forward is whether Bannon is going to play a kitchen cabinet role, where he talks to Trump in the middle of the night, coaches him; Trump is famous for these midnight phone calls.

Or is he going to join a Breitbart who right now is kicking the president in the shins as kind of a sell-out.

....and in that interview with The Weekly Standard he was kind of on both sides of the question, he said that the Trump presidency that we fought for was over….so, even Bannon can’t have that both ways, especially because Trump hates being upstaged by his advisors. That’s what did in Bannon, its what did in Scaramucci.”

Amy Goodman: Talk about the other issues he addressed with you, for example, Charlottesville. ...with Charlottesville his brand of White supremacy, neo-Nazi, the whole issue of The Confederacy, he suddenly comes front and center…and this is when he’s talking to you ...in fact what was the timing and Trump saying both sides were responsible on Saturday…

Kuttner: He called me about 20 minutes before the press conference started and its pretty clear that his finger prints were all over Trump’s strategy of doubling down on the racism..  ..which makes the timing of the phone call even weirder.

Goodman: He said to you ‘the Democrats, 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, if we go with economics we can crush the Democrats.’

...he talked about the White supremacists at Charlottesville as clowns; can you talk about his evaluation of what took place there?

Kuttner: I think that was another effort in his part, completely insincere to ingratiate himself with a progressive journalist…

....it’s like the guy who’ll say anything to get a woman to got o bed with him, so he starts improvising, ‘oh, they’re clowns, we don’t take them seriously, we’ve got to crack down on them’ ...you don’t think he believes that for ten seconds and his base knows he doesn’t believe that for ten seconds.


4

Posted by Steve Bannon on 60 min. on Mon, 11 Sep 2017 12:16 | #

(((The Dark Enlightenment)))‘s Steve Bannon on 60 Min:

Steve Bannon interviewed on 60 minutes



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