Unlike Kissinger—who stressed that relations with Russia were not an end goal itself but part of a decades long approach to revamping continental power structures—these advisers argued that the threat from China needed to be confronted in the near term. A congressional source familiar with the strategy said Bannon often focused on “civilizational threats that face the U.S. emanating from Arab world and China.” Indeed, Bannon has backed populist, nationalist parties throughout Europe based in large part on appealing to identity politics and perceived international threats. Those same parties have often embraced and praised Putin.
Among Capitol Hill foreign policy circles, the source added, the view is that Kissinger’s motivations for pursuing the reverse of his own policy from the 1970s are “more intellectually honest and honorable” than Bannon’s. Though a separate source familiar with the transition talks said the two individuals had a fair amount of overlap in terms of their world views.
“[Kissinger] did not advocate a partnership with Russia,” said the source. “But he was absolutely adamant that 17 years of the global war on terror had taken up too much time and focus. And he is a huge believer that this a great power struggle [with China].”