It is pretty amazing to me that someone from the White House would just call up a random reporter and be this open about their views, but as we have seen there is nothing conventional about Steve Bannon:
“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.” [The American Prospect via a reader tip]
You can read much more at the link, but in regards to threat to Seoul Mr. Bannon is correct that it continues to restrain US actions against North Korea. The fact that Bannon is willing to consider a freeze deal with North Korea in exchange for the removal of US troops I find very interesting. I think everyone pushing for the freeze deal are now going to push it even harder if they see an opening that the White House might accept it.
Bannon in the article also talks about trying to get more hawks into the administration that don’t want to play nice with China. He feels there are too many people in the government that think playing nice on trade with China will encourage them to help us with North Korea.
As far economic war with China it seems to me that a lot of the economic problems are self inflicted with the exporting of manufacturing jobs to China. I don’t know if someone can even live a modern life any more if they made a conscious decision to not buy anything made in China.