Our Man in Topsy-Turvydom: Steve Bannon vs. China

donald_trump_signs_orders_to_green-light_the_keystone_xl_and_dakota_access_pipelines_bannon_cropA couple of quotes from Steve Bannon in Michael Wolff’’s upcoming book Fire and Fury have gotten quite a bit of attention recently. The headlines are all about Bannon calling Donald Trump Jr.’ meeting with Russian lawyers ““treasonous”” and labeling Ivanka Trump ““dumb as a brick””. These quotes drew a response from the President himself.

But those aren’’t the significant Bannon quotes from this book. No; the most interesting Bannon-ism is this, from a dinner he attended shortly after the election with Roger Ailes, the disgraced former Fox News CEO:

““China’’s everything. Nothing else matters. We don’’t get China right, we don’’t get anything right. This whole thing is very simple. China is where Nazi Germany was in 1929 to 1930. The Chinese, like the Germans, are the most rational people in the world, until they’’re not. And they’’re gonna flip like Germany in the ’30s. You’’re going to have a hypernationalist state, and once that happens, you can’’t put the genie back in the bottle.””

Hey, you guys! It turns out we had Bannon all wrong. We thought he was a Nazi, but actually he’’s trying to prevent the rise of the new Nazis! He’’s like Severus Snape!

Kidding aside, if this is true, it means Bannon sees China as the most significant threat to the United States, and indeed the world.

Which is weird, because throughout Trump’’s first year in office (for the majority of which Bannon was a key advisor) his administration has been consistently letting China get what it wants.

On the campaign trail, Trump talked a big game about punishing China for currency manipulation. Then he met Chinese President Xi at Mar-A-Lago and they had some delicious cake and all of a sudden that became water under the bridge.

Remember the Trans-Pacific Partnership? The one Trump withdrew the United States from? Well, that withdrawal allowed China to further increase its economic power in Asia.

I’’m not saying the TPP was necessarily a good idea, but by its withdrawal, the US has clearly served the interest of China’’s ruling elite. And what did Bannon have to say about it, when Trump withdrew from it mere days into his Presidency?

“”Great thing for the American worker, what we just did.””

Or how about Trump’’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement? By doing so, it allowed China to take the lead in new energy technology, and cleaning up their polluted cities.

In other words, Trump effectively set the stage for the US and China to swap roles, with the US now being the heavily-polluted manufacturing country with older technology and lower regulatory standards, and China being the high-tech, clean, “white-collar” nation.

How did old Bannon feel about that?

“”As Trump prepared to take the podium, chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, the man credited with keeping Trump on a path to Paris withdrawal, stood in the shade with a coterie of senior staff, surveying the scene. For Bannon, the United States’ exit from the deal wasn’’t just a policy victory, it was personal vindication.””

What is up with this? If Bannon thinks he needs to curb China’’s increasing geopolitical power, he has a funny way of doing it. All these major policy decisions that Trump made at Bannon’’s urging have benefited China.

Bannon may think the President’s daughter is dumb as a brick, but at first glance, his approach to fighting rival superpowers rather resembles the work of someone with block-like intelligence.

Is Bannon secretly a double agent for China, pretending to be super anti-China as a cover? Is he just a buffoon who has no idea how Foreign Policy works? Or is he some 13-dimensional-chess-playing mastermind who knows something everybody else doesn’’t, and thinks that whoever has the least influence in Asia will somehow dominate the globe?


  1. If this was a world in which the U.S. was truly the only superpower, some of what Trump does might make sense. But that’s not the current reality. So many of Trump’s “projections of strength” are actually weakening our country throughout the world, and at home. As you point out, so many of his decisions have strengthened the hand of China, and that of Russia as well. And others. It’s a perfect example of the problem with having a narcissistic, uninformed buffoon as President.

    1. This is the thing I keep hoping will eventually turn Republicans against him–they must understand that many of his actions run counter to their stated goals. But it doesn’t seem to be happening so far.

      1. No. They’re blinded by his support for their domestic agenda and their long-standing belief that all that matters is projection of strength. We are the most powerful nation in the world, what’s the point of all that power if we don’t use it? We are supposed to do whatever we want whenever we want wherever we want. If we can just do that, everything will work itself out and people and nations will cower before us.

        I forgot the other comment I wanted to make — Bannon’s view of China is kind of funny. It shows he completely ignores decades, if not centuries, of how China does thing. The idea that they are going to suddenly run amuck? Ridiculous.

        1. The last couple days have not been kind to the “Bannon is a mastermind” narrative.

          1. One of the things that irks me about American politicians is their shortsightedness. And one of the things that I so appreciated about Obama was his long view of the world. Because of our election cycles, political leaders can only think in two, four, or eight year chunks. And if you look at our history since WW II, the leadership at the top has changed almost every eight years. We haven’t had a consistent governing ideology for decades. Meanwhile, our “enemies” all have the ability to think long-term. How many decades has Putin now been in control? While, there have been some shifts in domestic policy in China, how many decades as that country’s political leadership followed the same general approach to the rest of the world? And Iran? And Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups They are all thinking about things in terms of decades in power, while we shift every few years and our leaders can only count on being in power for four or eight years. It produces idiotic thinking like Bannon’s or Trump’s. Obama was one of the few who was willing to forego short-term victories in his effort to keep his eyes on the long-term.

  2. Have you read the book yet? I haven’t but can’t wait. Although my husband says we have heard and read so much about it, he almost doesn’t want to read it. We’ve already heard it all. We will both read it though.I think it came out on Friday. As with everything else, liberals like me will think it is basically all true and conservative Fox viewers will say it’s fake news. What do you think?

    1. I haven’t read it yet, but my hunch is that at least some of it is true. After all, if it were all false, Trump would not have needed to get so upset at Bannon. And Bannon never denied any of it, at least as far as I know.

      1. I agree. The author is well respected, and he didn’t get that way by making stuff up. Or without checking his sources. It’s tough because I’m sure there are a lot of people who want to talk but are afraid of retribution. So they become unnamed sources, and that can seem like it’s made up.

What's your stake in this, cowboy?