The National Interest: Trump and Bannon’s ‘Pivot to Asia’

BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 9: U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping (not shown) speak to business leaders at the Great Hall of the People on November 9, 2017 in Beijing, China. Trump is on a 10-day trip to Asia. (Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)
Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images

Curt Mills writes in The National Interest:

But with President Trump’s National Security Strategy (set to be unveiled publicly from Washington Monday afternoon), a document dominated by discussion of East Asia—along with former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s machinations in Japan over the weekend—another similarity has emerged: is this the Trump administration’s “pivot to Asia”?

A source close to Bannon told me Sunday the upcoming speech and the Strategy are “huge wins for ‘the nationalist wing’ of the White House.” The document “reads like a Peter Navarro ‘Powerpoint’!!!”

Another explanation, of course, is that President Donald Trump and his inner brass care less about North Korea than they let on. Bannon has urged the U.S. in recent months to direct its attention elsewhere. Containing China is the bigger prize.

Less than a week after Roy Moore’s defeat in Alabama, the NSS and Bannon’s weekend jaunt to Japan are much-needed victories. “We’re going through—for the next ten, or fifteen, or twenty years—the valley of decision,” Bannon told an audience on Saturday at Japan’s CPAC, put on by The American Conservative Union. Said Bannon: “You could argue, up until [Donald Trump] became president of the United States that America was a tributary state to China. We have a $500 billion—or $485 billion—annual trade deficit with China. . . . Essentially, the United States had been turned into Jamestown to China’s Great Britain, and that all the high value-added manufacturing had essentially been taken by China.”

Bannon’s people insisted they received a strong reception.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “closest advisors and all Japanese media were all over it,” a source close to Bannon emails. “Japanese right wing loved the get tough approach.” Indeed, a greatly underrated factor in this administration has been the Trump relationship with the world’s third largest economy. After the shock November 8, 2016, Trump victory, Abe was practically the first world leader waiting in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan. Major outlet the Japan Times ran with the story of Bannon’s Saturday address, giving it prominent placement (which was not ignored by Breitbart News; Bannon even hosted his radio show Sunday from Japan).

It doesn’t just stop at Japan, Bannon and allies close to the president, insist. China must be contained at all costs, and that effort must include “the Quad: USA, Japan, India and Australia.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been proactive in building bridges with the nationalist-conservative government in India.

Read the rest here.