Steve Bannon slams far right: 'These guys are a collection of clowns'

In a rare interview, Bannon also discusses North Korea and relations with China.

— -- Steve Bannon has broken his silence on last weekend's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, describing the participants as "a collection of clowns."

In an interview published Wednesday by The American Prospect — which, according to its website, aims to "advance liberal and progressive goals" — Bannon, the White House's chief strategist, dismissed the far right as irrelevant and downplayed his role in its development.

"Ethnonationalism — it's losers," he said. "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."

While talking about the far right, Bannon took the opportunity to slam Democrats' fondness for "identity politics."

"The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got 'em," he said. "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."

In the interview, Bannon seemed to counter President Trump's incendiary comments about unleashing "fire and fury" on North Korea if it continues to threaten the U.S.

"There's no military solution [to North Korea's nuclear threats]. Forget it," Bannon said. "Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 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."

He had harsh words for China, which he said is at war with the U.S. economically. He added that the U.S. is at risk of losing its economic superpower status to China, the world's most populous country.

"We're at economic war with China," Bannon said. "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 going to be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they're just tapping us along. It's just a sideshow."

He continued, "To me, 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, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we'll never be able to recover."

Bannon's plan to counter China's increasingly strong economic influence is to file 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 Chinese 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.”