Steve Bannon in 2016: ‘No Doubt’ US Will Fight War with China
As Donald Trump’s presidency begins with provocation of China and saber-rattling toward Iran, disturbing audio recordings of White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon predicting war with China and the Middle East have emerged.
USA Today received audio recordings of Bannon’s Breitbart News Daily radio shows from 2015 and 2016 in which the hawkish host told his listeners that the United States and the Western world are engaged in a “global existential war” and that a “fifth column” of Islamist sympathizers have infiltrated the American government and media.
Bannon also took aim at China, predicting “we’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years.”
“There’s no doubt about that,” he said in March 2016. “They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face — and you understand how important face is — and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”
Trump began provoking China even before he took office. Breaking with decades of precedent, the president-elect spoke with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen following his election night victory, implicitly recognizing Taiwanese sovereignty despite the One China policy of China and most of the international community. Since then, Trump has repeatedly insulted China by publicly calling attention to what he calls Beijing’s “currency manipulation” and the country’s military activity in the disputed South China Sea.
Beijing has been patient, but eventually that patience will wear thin.The Guardian reports China warned of the possibility of war between the world’s two largest economies on the day of Trump’s inauguration. “A ‘war within the president’s term’ or ‘war breaking out tonight’ are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality,” a People’s Liberation Army official wrote.
Responding to China’s rise will be one of the most important issues facing the Trump administration. Although it is still very early in his administration, Trump thus far has chosen confrontation over cooperation. Experts say that is a dangerous move. Kerry Brown, an associate fellow in the Asia program at the London think tank Chatham House, told the Independent Trump’s “provocative and chaotic approach” was increasing tensions and creating a “no-win situation.”
“Only through the act of the most amazing stupidity and provocation would conflict happen,” said Brown. “But Mr. Trump and his team have shown they are willing to do very high-risk things.”
The audio recordings of Bannon’s shows reveal a strained relationship with the truth, including one program in February 2016 when he cited a Breitbart fake news headline claiming there is a mosque at the North Pole. “You have an expansionist Islam and you have an expansionist China. Right?” he asked. “They are motivated. They’re arrogant. They’re on the march. And they think the Judeo-Christian West is on the retreat. Talk to us about this mosque on the North Pole.”
Bannon has been accused of being “a champion of white supremacy” by retired Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and has been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism. However, in his radio show recordings, his worst venom was reserved for Muslims. On one January 2016 show, Bannon said Islam is “much darker” than Nazi Germany.
“This is when Europe’s looking down the barrel of fascism — the rise of Mussolini in Italy, Stalin and the Russians and the communist Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union,” he said, discussing Europe in the 1930s. “And obviously Hitler and the Nazis… What so blows me away is the timing of it. You could look in 1938 and say, ‘Look, it’s pretty dark here in Europe right now, but there’s something actually much darker. And that is Islam.’ ”
Bannon said he believes US troops will sooner or later be involved in another ground war in the Middle East. “Some of these situations may get a little unpleasant,” he said in November 2015. “But you know what, we’re in a war. We’re clearly going into, I think, a major shooting war in the Middle East again.”
“To be brutally frank… Christianity is dying in Europe, and Islam is on the rise,” Bannon said in a January 2016 interview.
“We’re at war,” he said repeatedly. “It’s war. It’s war. Every day, we put up: America’s at war, America’s at war. We’re at war. Note to self, beloved commander in chief: We’re at war.”