Trump enters the stage

Donald Trump and his allies are laying the groundwork to contest a potential loss in November, stoking doubts about the election’s legitimacy even as opinion polls show the Republican presidential candidate leading in battleground states.

In recent interviews, Trump has refused to commit to accepting the election results. At his rallies, he has portrayed Democrats as cheaters, called mail-in ballots corrupt and urged supporters to vote in such large numbers to render the election "too big to rig.”

UPI

Elections don’t matter, not in America or places like France too. They are all rigged, at least above a certain level of importance. But even more so, all candidates are bought and paid for anyway. So while they would certainly prefer one outcome to another, the world controllers can make do with the second or third best option. It merely causes them to shift to a plan B or C.

Pointing out that democrats cheat in elections is just a distraction from how Trump and the republicans are all controlled opposition anyway, bought and paid for, and also another way to keep people locked into the false dichotomy of left vs right, keep them invested emotionally so they keep voting. It is at least on some level important that they keep a sufficient number of the masses going to vote each time, to give a (false) appearance of legitimacy to the entire system.

So who looses/wins, the most/less rigged paid for the most/least money that either excludes or includes a third party candidate that can float and share a critical candidate like RFK Jr. or a has been presidential candidate with a middle of the road platform that could be split indefinitely into various shades of grey?

The statistics are prompted, arranged and distributed by artificially created think thanks ?:pray:

:blush:

Any wiggle room?

The coming debates!!!

Donald Trump’s dumbest move yet was agreeing to debate Joe Biden

OPINION

Thu May 16 13:57:00 EDT 2024

“For an alleged sack of bones with dementia, Joe Biden keeps outsmarting Republicans.

The latest genius move came Wednesday when the U.S. president issued a video challenge: “Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020. Since then, he hasn’t shown up for a debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal. I’ll even do it twice. So let’s pick the dates, Donald. I hear you’re free on Wednesdays.”

Agent Orange foolishly accepted the challenge. So the first debate will take place in Georgia on June 27. It will air on CNN, to be moderated by Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

Here’s why Trump has already lost: there will no studio audience.

Imagine a Trump speech in an empty stadium. There is no sea of red hats cheering as Dear Leader inverts reality and force-feeds his cultists a word salad off the teleprompter.

The big, fat lies have no feedback loop to sustain them. When Trump gushes about Al Capone or muses about shark attacks, there is no zombie applause. When he hails the fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter as a “wonderful man” or makes up easily disprovable facts and figures, it all dies in the silence of the gullible lambs.

Trump said he wanted to debate Biden. Biden called his bluff. Trump is doomed.

This is why hours after the debates were set — the second will take place Sept. 10 on ABC — GOP operatives were recoiling to their fainting couches. They know the Trump grand illusion relies upon his ride-or-die fanatics. But if partisan boosters aren’t thundering after every crazy word, all you’ve got left are the crazy words.

And on a debate stage, crazy words tend to lose elections.

Another mental exercise. Donald Trump is exactly the same. But now he’s an unknown pensioner. He sits down beside you on a park bench. You glance over and wonder why there are white goggle marks around his eyes. Why is his skin the colour of marigolds at sundown? Is that human hair or did Trader Joe’s Pasta dispatch culinary artists to Gorilla Glue uncooked linguine to his scalp in layered cross-hatches?

Then he starts talking about how pigeons are communists. The radical left wants to outlaw swings. You politely walk away with a grimacing smile. But if he said that as strangers gathered around to whoop in agreement, you’d wonder if you were missing something.

A debate with no audience exposes the essential Trump — a lunatic on a park bench.

Team Biden also cut out the middleman. Per Reuters: “Biden said he would not take part in the traditional televised showdowns organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, rejecting the non-partisan organization that has managed them since 1988.”

Good riddance. The silly putty rules during the 2016 and 2020 debates allowed Trump to bellow over Hillary Clinton and then Biden. The disruptions were always off topic. Why? Trump has no command of any topic. He doesn’t know anything. If you asked him to explain how tariffs work, he’d tell you his golf handicap. If Trump were an extinct dinosaur, scientists would assign the name Ignoramus Interruptus.

Next month’s debate will include measures to guard against interjection. Moderators should cut mics when time runs out on a given response. Put Trump on mute already. Oh, his mouth will still be motoring. His arms will flail like a sky jumper free-falling with an entangled chute. But TV viewers will not hear him run his poisonous yap.

Biden will detail his achievements. Trump will be reduced to an unhinged mime.

I would also encourage CNN to get tough on lying. A backstage team of fact-checkers, working with AI, can easily test the veracity in real time of any false claim. At this point, a marsupial with severe hearing loss could fact-check Trump.

Are his lips moving? OK, he’s lying.

Agreeing to debate Biden may be Trump’s dumbest move yet.

Now independents, the demo that swings American elections, will be presented with a stark contrast stripped bare of robotic cheerleading. Biden versus Trump. Mano-a-mano. Two competing visions. Two very different moral characters. One question:

Vote for the guy who cares about the country or the guy who only cares about himself?

By baiting Trump into hastily agreeing to debate, Joe Biden has proved yet again that he is playing 5D chess as his opponent licks the tiddlywinks from a Happy Meal.

It’s been amusing to watch Trump surrogates and sycophants try to reduce expectations or offer pre-emptive excuses this week. Lara Trump, co-chair of the Republican National Committee and come-to-life mannequin from a Saks Fifth Avenue window, predicted the debates would be “rigged.”

Even Trump’s daughter-in-law expects him to get shellacked.

My hunch: Donald Trump will wiggle out of these debates with Joe Biden.

He’s getting tired of all this losing.”

NY Times

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A right winger opinion:

Frightening

Trump’s Most Unhinged Plans for His Second Term

Perhaps, like me, every time you see a poll showing Donald Trump winning the 2024 presidential race you comfort yourself with the thought that you already survived his first administration. How bad could a second Trump term really be?

As it turns out, pretty bad! Trump has been releasing policy papers and videos on what he calls “Agenda 47” for months, and he and his advisers are openly bragging about their radical plans for a second term. Some of the worst elements of Trump’s first-term agenda were thwarted by scrupulous government officials, legal challenges, and the Trump team’s general ineptitude. But the former president and his well-funded allies in the conservative movement are already working to make sure they’ll be more successful if he winds up back in the White House.

Many of Trump’s proposals for his second term are surprisingly extreme, draconian, and weird, even for him. Here’s a running list of his most unhinged plans.

Let states monitor pregnancies and prosecute women who get abortions

In April 2024 Trump announced that he believes abortion policy should be left up to the states now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. A few weeks later he told Time Magazine that he’s open to letting states prosecute women who get abortions.

“The states are going to say,” Trump said. “It’s irrelevant whether I’m comfortable or not. It’s totally irrelevant, because the states are going to make those decisions.”

Trump also said he’s open to letting states monitor women’s pregnancies to make sure they are not terminated:

Trump never said whether he thinks states should do these things, but he’s made it clear that he has no intention of stopping them.

Give the president unchecked power over federal agencies

Today, most of us take for granted that presidents don’t micromanage departments they oversee, allowing them to figure out the finer details of running the biggest institution in the country. But in a policy video released in 2023, Trump said he plans to change that:

Trump has repeatedly made it clear that he thinks the president should generally be able to do whatever he wants. It seems this belief is rooted in his personal sense of entitlement, not any coherent theory on how the U.S. government should be structured. But as the New York Times explained in July 2023, Trump’s narcissistic tendencies happen to dovetail with conservative legal thinkers’ decades-long effort to fundamentally reshape the federal government by putting independent agencies under the president’s control:

Restore the president’s authority to bypass Congress

Part of Trump’s grand vision for an imperial presidency involves reclaiming the president’s impoundment power, which Richard Nixon gave up in 1974. Without getting into the weeds on the origins of the U.S. budget process, this basically means Trump plans to refuse to spend certain congressional appropriations, thus giving himself the power to starve any government programs he doesn’t care for.

Appoint a special prosecutor to ‘go after’ Biden

Hours after he was indicted on 37 criminal counts for allegedly mishandling classified documents in July, Trump took to Truth Social to announce his plan to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Joe Biden and the “entire Biden crime family.”

Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, already has two Trump-appointed special prosecutors investigating Biden’s handling of classified documents and his son Hunter’s financial dealings. But apparently, they are not “real” because their goal is conducting actual investigations not finding any excuse to charge the Bidens.

Trump has been pretty clear that his goal is getting vengeance against Biden, even if it isn’t legally justified.

“This is third-world-country stuff, ‘arrest your opponent,’” Trump said at a New Hampshire campaign stop in October. “And that means I can do that, too.”

Use the Justice Department to get revenge on all of his enemies

Trump’s revenge fantasy goes far beyond siccing the Justice Department on the Bidens. The Washington Post reported that Trump and his allies have been drawing up specific plans to punish his critics via investigations:

John Kelly, a former Trump White House chief of staff, told the paper that he fully expects Trump to target him if reelected, as he’d frequently suggest using the DOJ to persecute his enemies in his first term. “There is no question in my mind he is going to go after people that have turned on him,” he said.

While he hasn’t been that specific about his revenge plans in public, Trump has certainly embraced that language. During his CPAC speech on February 24 he said, “Your victory will be our ultimate vindication, your liberty will be our ultimate reward and the unprecedented success of the United States of America will be my ultimate and absolute revenge”.

“For hard-working Americans, November 5th will be our new liberation day,” he added. “But for the liars and cheaters and fraudsters and censors and imposters who have commandeered our government, it will be their judgement day.”

Expand presidential immunity

While in office Trump was shielded from Justice Department prosecution by a Nixon-era memo that said the department should not indict sitting presidents, as criminal proceedings “would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.” That guidance does not apply after presidents leave office, but Rolling Stone reports that Trump is looking to change it to give presidents lifelong immunity:

Purge the civil service

Despite his promises to “drain the swamp” Trump only made his move to purge the federal workforce by creating a new “Schedule F” employment category in October 2020. The idea was to redesignate as many as 50,000 civil servants as political appointees, then fire anyone deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump.

Schedule F was never implemented, as Biden quickly revoked Trump’s executive order. But Trump plans to immediately reimpose Schedule F in his second term, allowing him to fire tens of thousands of career servants. Though, Team Trump told Axios they don’t think they’ll have to totally gut the federal government to achieve their goal of scaring people into submission:

Install thousands of loyalists throughout the federal government

So what if the MAGA purge does require firing thousands of federal workers? Trump and his allies have a plan for that: They’re already vetting loyalists to replace career civil servants throughout the government.

The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 is collecting resumes online for its “2025 Presidential Transition Project Talent Database.” Its website says that “With the right conservative policy recommendations and properly vetted and trained personnel to implement them, we will take back our government.” Axios reported on what the screening process entails:

Heritage said Project 2025 is candidate-agnostic, meaning its thousands of applicants could serve in any Republican administration, not just a second Trump term. The organization said in a statement: “Our goal is to recruit 20,000 people to serve in the next administration. We are proud to welcome conservatives of all different backgrounds and experiences to Project 2025 and we are already seeing those trends in our database.”

Fill his Cabinet with people like Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon

While Trump “hasn’t settled on specific roles for specific figures,” according to Axios, he is planning to put some of his most loyal — and most notorious — supporters in his Cabinet and other high-profile positions. Names being floated include Stephen Miller (possibly for attorney general), Steve Bannon (as potential chief of staff), and Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice Department official who was indicted along with Trump in Georgia (who nearly became attorney general during Trump’s final days in office).

While many of the characters on the short list would have a hard time winning Senate confirmation, Trump has already made unprecedented use of the “acting” designation, and may do it again. “I sort of like ‘acting,’” Trump said in 2019. “It gives me more flexibility.”

Round up, detain, and deport millions of undocumented immigrants

While Trump talked about mass deportations during his 2016 campaign he only managed to expel several hundred thousand people per year, which is similar to the number of deportations during other recent administrations. Now he’s making plans to enact mass deportations on a scale never seen in this country, with the goal of booting out millions of people each year.

This would involve scouring the country for undocumented immigrants — including people who have lived in the U.S. for many years — detaining them in massive new camps, and swiftly deporting them, as the New York Times reported:

During a trip to the southern border on February 29, Trump said local police will be a key part of this effort.

“We have to deport a lot of people, and they have to start immediately,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. “It’s going to be the local police are going to turn them over, and we’re going to have to move them back to their country.”

Former Trump aide Stephen Miller bragged about Trump’s immigration plans to the Times, describing them as a “blitz” designed to be enacted without the need for any substantive new legislation.

“Any activists who doubt President Trump’s resolve in the slightest are making a drastic error: Trump will unleash the vast arsenal of federal powers to implement the most spectacular migration crackdown,” Miller said. “The immigration legal activists won’t know what’s happening.”

Deploy U.S troops for ‘war’ on southern border

Trump toyed with sending the U.S. military to the southern border during his first administration, though presidents are legally barred from using the military as a domestic police force. In his second term, he intends to attempt a “historic power grab” to legally enable the deployment of U.S. troops “to carry out roles currently prohibited under federal law — including the arrest, detention, and transport of migrants at the southern border,” according to Rolling Stone. Sources told the outlet that the effort could involve hundreds of thousands of troops:

End birthright citizenship

Trump has promised to immediately end automatic citizenship for children born in the United States if reelected. The Washington Post explains, “The Trump campaign has also said he would sign an executive order on his first day in office to withhold passports, Social Security numbers and other government benefits from children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States.”

Trump toyed with ending birthright citizenship via executive order during his first term but never went through with it. That’s probably because most scholars believe it would require a constitutional amendment to undo the 14th Amendment, which says, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”

Reinterpret anti-racism protections to benefit white people

Trump and his allies want to reinterpret Civil Rights-era laws and other measures aimed at promoting racial equality to focus on combatting “anti-white racism” rather than bias against people of color. Axios reported:

Several groups connected to Trump have been laying the legal groundwork by filing lawsuits and complaints against government and corporate policies that they say discriminate against white people.

Construct ‘Freedom Cities’

Trump released a video in March 2023 announcing his plan to hold a nationwide contest to design and develop ten new “Freedom Cities” to be constructed on federal land.

“In other words, we’ll actually build new cities in our country again,” Trump said. “These Freedom Cities will reopen the frontier, reignite American imagination, and give hundreds of thousands of young people and other people, all hardworking families, a new shot at home ownership and in fact, the American Dream.”

Watch the Video

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with investing in urban areas or making it easier to buy a home. But as economist Richard McGahey explained in Forbes, “Waving a magic wand isn’t how cities develop.” Plans released by the Trump campaign offer no further detail on how this massive undertaking would work. It’s almost like Trump is pitching the idea solely because the term “Freedom Cities” sounds cool.

Put flying cars in Americans’ driveways

How will Americans get around in these “Freedom Cities”? Flying cars, of course.

“Dozens of major companies in the U.S. and China are racing to develop vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles for families and individuals,” Trump said in the same March 2023 video. “Just as the United States led the automotive revolution in the last century, I want to ensure that America, not China, leads this revolution in air mobility. These breakthroughs can transform commerce, bring a giant infusion of wealth into rural America, and connect families and our country in new ways.”

It’s true that such vehicles are in development, but it does not seem that they’re going to be widely available to families and individuals anytime soon — or maybe ever. Trump’s frenemy Elon Musk, who’s no stranger to zany proposals, dismissed the idea back in 2017, saying, “It’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Heritage Foundation is recruiting candidates to serve in Trump’s second term. Project 2025 is not a candidate-specific effort.

The Intelligenter

Note:

Addendum;

Geopolitical changes accelerate the need to add more contentious material adjacent to Trump’s statesmanship in particular, finding this article key in the coming attractions that are beginning to shift to the middle ground of most opinionated requirement on policy; vis: a viable platform to put light on where in the heck Trump is or would like to be, as international/national pressures significantly mount on him within the next few months prior to the election.

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Xi takes off the mask: The Beijing tyrant has spent 12 years wrecking China’s image

By John Schindler, 6 days ago

WashingtonExaminer

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Xi Jinping 's recent European tour was an unprecedented spectacle in international affairs: an Asian leader was arriving as representative of a great power to lesser nations of an anxious continent. China’s strongman landed in Paris on May 5, amid diplomatic pleasantries. Behind the gift exchange, including fine French cognac, any hopes French President Emmanuel Macron harbored that the visit might reverse the deterioration in relations between Beijing and Paris, and the broader European Union, were instantly dashed. Xi cut the figure of an aggressive tough guy. In Paris, he took on the subject of Europe’s most devastating war since 1945, saying, “We oppose using the Ukraine crisis to cast blame, smear a third country, and incite a new Cold War.” He made clear that Beijing’s robust support for Moscow in the third year of Russia ’s renewed aggression against Ukraine isn’t something he is willing to compromise or negotiate.

Xi concluded his tour in Hungary , another NATO member, where his reception was far warmer. Upon Xi’s arrival in Budapest on May 8, Xi was given opulent red-carpet treatment by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán . Under Orbán, Hungary is seen as an illiberal troublemaker by Western elites, but perhaps because of that, it is warmly embraced by China, which deems it an ideal vehicle for Chinese investments. Xi hailed China’s “deep friendship” with Hungary, the latter’s NATO membership notwithstanding, and the two nations were as one on the subject of strategic cooperation. Orbán expressed his position concisely: “Looking back at the world economy and commerce of 20 years ago, it doesn’t resemble at all what we’re living in today. … Then, we lived in a single-polar world and now we live in a multipolar world order, and one of the main columns of this new world order is China.”

The Chinese Communist Party boss, however, reserved his warmest embrace for Serbia. This was a diplomatic love-in, with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić offering his Chinese counterpart royal treatment. The capital Belgrade was festooned with Chinese flags, Serbian air force MiG fighters escorted Xi’s plane, and Vučić boasted that his guest, “as the leader of a great power … will be met with respect all over the world, but the reverence and love he encounters in our Serbia will not be found anywhere else.” Warm relations between Beijing and Belgrade are not new, but they have grown cozier in recent years. Chinese investment is a main driver of Serbia’s economy. Vučić explained that “the sky is the limit” when it comes to Chinese-Serbian partnership. For his part, Xi stated China’s position forthrightly: “Eight years ago, Serbia became China’s first comprehensive strategic partner in the Central and Eastern European region, and today, Serbia is the first European country to build a community of destiny with China.”

The anti-NATO and especially anti-American tone of Xi’s Balkan sojourn was deliberate and impossible to miss. Serbia still nurses grievances against the NATO alliance for the 1999 Kosovo War, which included 78 days of NATO bombardment of the Balkan country. Xi’s visit designedly coincided with the 25th anniversary of that war’s most notorious mistake, the U.S. Air Force’s bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, which killed three Chinese nationals and injured 20 others. Beijing has never accepted the Pentagon’s assertion that this was a terrible mistake, a targeting error. (I was involved in the Kosovo War as a senior intelligence official, and I saw no evidence that the incident was due to anything other than the fog of war.) Chinese emotions over the 1999 embassy bombing remain tangible. “The Chinese people value peace but will never allow historical tragedies to happen again,” Xi told his Serbian hosts. “The friendship forged in blood between the peoples of China and Serbia has become the common memory of the two peoples and will inspire both sides to move forward together.” In short, he implied that China and Serbia were illegally attacked by NATO and the United States, and Xi wanted to make sure both his friends and his enemy across the Atlantic got the message that it would never happen again.

Serbia is an all-purpose Chinese client state in Europe surrounded by NATO members. What is really significant is the boast of Chinese economic and political power, even by a NATO member such as Hungary (and France, less ebulliently). The unipolar world dominated by the U.S. that emerged with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, grounded in American military and economic might, hasn’t merely faded away. It is the subject of deliberate efforts by Xi to displace it. It is the target of his entire worldview and his view of himself as the Chinese leader of destiny whose historical role is to build his nation to global preeminence at the expense of the U.S. and all it stands for.

The collapse of unchallenged U.S. global leadership, after years of slow decline, was made plain by the humiliating debacle of America’s shambolic retreat from Kabul in August 2021. That strategic coda to two decades of diffident and failing American war-making in Afghanistan signaled to the world the incompetence of U.S. diplomacy and military power. Behind a brave face, Uncle Sam was revealed as weary and inept. The Biden administration’s flagrant lies about our Kabul defeat, which the president and his minions continue to peddle even now, have done nothing to counter foreign perceptions. The U.S. under President Joe Biden is seen as a declining superpower in denial. It’s not a coincidence that, just four months after our retreat from Afghanistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, judging that America would not fight for Kyiv.

Since the debacle of Kabul, China has been notably more willing to risk confrontations with the U.S. and its military. Clashes between Chinese fighters and unarmed American and allied surveillance planes have grown more frequent and dangerous. The Chinese confront allied warships, particularly in waters close to China. Beijing under Xi is not just willing but keen to take positions and actions that put it at odds with Washington. It is constantly probing and testing, increasingly confident that Biden will blink. Washington begged for months to restore the Pentagon’s hotline to Chinese military leaders in Beijing, which the People’s Liberation Army stopped answering in 2021. Xi agreed to restart it only after Biden made a personal appeal, a modern equivalent of the ancient kowtow, to China’s leader in 2023.

Much though the Biden administration has mishandled relations with China, it must be acknowledged that Chinese belligerence dates back through previous administrations, right back, in fact, to Xi’s emergence as Chinese leader in 2012. He was a new kind of leader, much more aggressive, much more assertive of China’s imperial destiny, much more ready to undermine the impression that China wanted to join the comity of nations. For three decades, America’s political and economic elites, and those of the West generally, believed that Beijing was on a path of democratization and normalization, wanting to be a partner with the West on most issues. Pundits referred to “Chimerica” as a financial partnership grounded in mutual dependency, displacing great power competition. Mutual interest was seen as undergirding good behavior by Beijing.

That was part of the reason China was granted most-favored-nation trading status in 1993, an enormous win for Beijing and critically important to China’s economic rise, early in the first term of President Bill Clinton. China’s MFN status was made permanent in 2001, early in the presidency of George W. Bush. For three decades, few in Washington of either party expressed doubts about the wisdom of assisting China in its rise to global power. Those who raised questions about whether the communist regime was really a long-term partner were in the minority no matter who was in the White House.

Whatever was plausible or otherwise before the arrival of Xi, however, it is now clear that China, under a leader more dominant than any since Mao Zedong, is a great power with aggressive ambitions and little concern for international comity, except insofar as it is temporarily useful in pursuit of long-term Chinese dominance. Xi has initiated and is pursuing a military buildup to match China’s economic achievements, including a blue-water navy to challenge America’s Pacific supremacy. Xi has his own ideas about how the world ought to work, and it’s not how Davos or Foggy Bottom likes it. Although the great man theory of history is out of favor in the West, sometimes a single leader can change the world. Comrade Xi has, unquestionably for the worse, done that.

Since becoming Chinese Communist Party boss in 2012, Xi has led his country onto a path of confrontation, not cooperation, with the West, especially the U.S. The son of a CCP functionary who rose methodically through the party’s ranks, through thick and thin, Xi has not shied away from confrontation, even though Beijing has demurred from open warfare against the West so far, preferring more deniable methods such as espionage, mass-hacking, and political influence operations.

The contrast with Putin is significant. The Kremlin boss took power a quarter of a century ago, and Putin, who is just a few months older than Xi, just celebrated his fifth presidential inauguration. He is Russia’s czar-for-life. Nevertheless, the early years of Putin’s rule witnessed some cooperation with the West. Early on, Putin even toyed with Russia joining NATO. Putin’s hostility toward the West maturated gradually, driven by events, and only became obvious by 2008, with Moscow’s brazen invasion of Georgia. The West never had any such honeymoon with Xi, who possesses the congenital anti-Western views of many CCP higher-ups.

Above all, Xi is a party man through and through, and his tenure as the boss has featured CCP consolidation of rule. Party authority has tightened under Xi, and internal dissent isn’t tolerated much more than it was under Mao, the tyrannical founder of the People’s Republic of China. Xi frequently compares himself to Mao and, like his predecessor, encourages a party cult of personality . Commemoration of the CCP’s 100th anniversary in 2021 featured comparisons between Mao and Xi, flattering to both, while the latter has depicted himself as the party’s most important “helmsman” since Mao. Xi is not “Mao 2.0,” for he has made China a great power. There’s a saying in China that Mao achieved jianguo (establishing the new Chinese republic), Deng Xiaoping, who ruled from 1978 to 1989, achieved fuguo (enriching China), and Xi has executed qiangguo (strengthening China). It is Xi who has transformed the dragon into a global menace.

Xi’s words and deeds make it plain that his aim is global hegemony, with China replacing America in setting the international order. Behind CCP platitudes about China’s “dream of national rejuvenation” by the middle of this century lurks the reality of tianxia (all under heaven), a Sinocentric throwback to China’s ancient past, with the “Middle Kingdom” at the center of global power surrounded by vassals and client states. Xi embraces this archaic ideology as a replacement for the “rules-based international order.” He has stated tianxia as his goal many times. In 2017, he cited it as a “common destiny for mankind.”

Like Putin’s pseudo-historical fantasies about “Holy Rus,” Xi’s ramblings about tianxia are for domestic consumption. But he is saying what he believes. America’s “Manifest Destiny” is two centuries old. China’s asserted destiny reaches back millennia. Xi rejects partnership with the West, which he sees as decadent and in an advanced state of collapse. He wants China to reestablish its place “under heaven,” overseeing a new world order where authoritarian regimes are the norm and Beijing gets the respect — and unchallenged rule over much of Asia, which China sees as its geographic and ancestral right.

It’s difficult to overstate the magnitude of the Chinese spy offensive that Xi has put in place against the West. It is engaged in a full-spectrum clandestine assault that FBI Director Christopher Wray in 2020 declared was “the greatest long-term threat” to America’s future, dwarfing all other security concerns. “The FBI is now opening a new China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours,” Wray explained, adding that “of the nearly 5,000 active counterintelligence cases currently underway across the country, almost half are related to China."

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Few in Washington’s secret corridors of power doubt that an increasingly aggressive China will act in the second half of this decade in ways that run the serious risk of all-out war. Xi has perhaps a decade of rule left in him before age takes its toll. The clock is ticking, and Xi’s desire to reunite Taiwan with the mainland is not in doubt.

In his dozen years in nearly complete control of China, Xi has exploded all illusions that the most populous nation on Earth, and its second biggest economy, can be regarded as any kind of partner for the future. He has allied himself with the world’s pariahs, including Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and some of its lesser nuisances and has detached itself from rule-of-law liberal democracies, which it now confronts. It has emerged as a threat comparable to or greater than was posed by the Soviet Union in the Cold War. It is as implacable an enemy of our nation and values, and it is increasingly well armed. It also has much more ability to seduce the West, for it is the supplier of goods that ordinary people want. The Soviet Union had nothing but strength on its side. China under Xi has strength and subtlety — and inducements to nations everywhere to prefer its patronage over America’s. Xi is responsible for this. He would like to get all the credit. He should certainly get the blame.

John R. Schindler served with the National Security Agency as a senior intelligence analyst and counterintelligence officer.

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