Mr Biden. The Upcoming Confrontation. The Putin Paradox

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With the weapons reinforcements Ukrainians will now be receiving, they will be able to hold off Russia’s attacks and even push them back. As things stand, the Russians will be no match for properly armed Ukrainians.
Soon, therefore, Putin will increase his threats to fire nuclear weapons on the West and at some point, as his losses mount, he will either accept defeat or draw the line and say to us, ‘if you do that, I’ll fire my nuclear missiles’.
Ignoring the threat is an option. It may work and he won’t follow through. But it may not.
Putin’s reliance on mercenary troops from the Wagner Group suggests there are serious rifts within his military, with career officers objecting to the political rise of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the group and his using prisoners as soldiers.
Even if Putin were to give the order to fire the nuclear weapons, the military may not follow through. Why be Putin’s sacrificial lambs?
However, there’s a strong ultranationalist faction in Russia pushing the war which may be present within the military which adds to the uncertainty.
But what if Putin makes it very clear he will use his nuclear weapons, say gives us a deadline to retreat or something alike?
Then the threat will have to be met. Head on.
He would be leaving us no options.

Mr Biden, you once called Putin a killer, a statement of the facts. The outrage he’d stirred in you made you say those words. Nothing less would’ve conveyed the fulness of your feelings.
Since then he’s become many times that killer.
Putin is a failed statesman. He’s done nothing but thwart the potential of Russia.
With all their human capabilities and natural resources they have not risen to be a leading nation. That is on Putin and he knows it. And it weighs on him.
He compares himself with other leaders and realizes he’s not produced, which is the price of autocracy and corruption, of surrounding yourself with ‘Yes men and women’ who’re not able to provide effective feedback for fear of offending the great man or because they’re too busy enriching themselves.
Putin is filled with anger at the world. Anger that comes from his envy which is enormous.
His ideas about a Russian empire are born out of that resentment. He tried to fool us with his lies and threats, ‘Listen up, you heathen, come look at my magnificent robes and my crown filled with diamonds and pearls, I am the true master of this earth. We, Russians, are the true chosen people who will enlighten and inspire the rest of you.’
And to show us how resolute he was, he lifted his heavy boot and planted it on the soul of Ukraine wanting to squash it and tear it apart. Never mind how many died as a result.
But Ukraine surprised everyone when they raged and said, ‘get your foot off me, you dunce!’ And they have given him a good shove back in a feat of heroism without precedent.
Ukraine’s resolve is so daring and unique that it has generated envy even in the West.
Nations complaining that Ukraine should be preparing to negotiate instead of fighting, nations who are reluctant to offer support, are also envious nations, envious of her courage and defiance.
So, yes, envious Putin has company among nations in the West.
Lamentably, there is the strong possibility that very soon a retreating Putin, so in love with himself that he sees no other options, will be saying to us, ‘You leave me no choice, I will have to fire my nuclear weapons.’
And we will have to step up to meet him eye to eye.

Mr Biden, from that same place deep inside of you from where the words that Putin is a killer flowed, your answer to the Russian will come.
‘You want to set the world on fire?’ you may say to him.
And Putin may answer, ‘if you don’t stop aiding Ukraine, I will do it.’
‘If you fire your weapons, we will fire back… do you really want to see your Moscow and St Petersburg in flames?’
‘Ha! Watch your cities do the same…’
‘What’s the point, Putin? There will be no winners… we would all lose… you and me… your children… my children… all of us would be losers… we would set back the progress of civilization by who knows how many years… just because you’re angry that you couldn’t lead your nation… angry that the world has not fallen in love with you… angry that you’ve failed in Ukraine… angry at your limitations as a leader. Why have so many people die … why?’
Putin will not have a coherent reply because there is none and he knows it. His dream of empire is just a fantasy, a distraction from his crumbling grandiosity. And yet, with raging fury, his shallowness as a human being exposed, he may insist, ‘I’ll do what I need to do,’ and hang up the phone.
Mr Biden, as soon as the conversation is over, you would do well to call up Xi Jinping to inform him of the situation.
‘Xi… just got off the phone with Putin, your friend “without limits”. He’s told me he’s ready to use nuclear weapons.’

A pause may follow.

‘Just to be clear, Xi… if Putin does that… we will fire back. All of the West will. I do not know who will be left standing. Maybe it will be Putin, maybe it will be us. But Xi, you must know… that if Putin fires a nuclear weapon in our direction… nuclear weapons from us will also be flying back in your direction, too.’
‘What?’ will answer Xi. ‘Why us? It’s not our war.’
‘It’s everybody’s war. No one is spared. The world is at war.’
‘You are trying to rule all of us…’ Xi may reply in outrage.
‘I’m giving you a warning… and I have a suggestion for you, too.’
‘We don’t have to all burn… and see who remains standing at the end… it doesn’t have to happen… so Xi… please listen carefully… you could… which I strongly advice… turn around the nuclear weapons you have now pointed at us and aim them instead at Moscow and St Petersburg… then call up your dear friend Vladimir to inform him.’


‘Please… and keep in touch.’

Biden hangs up.

Xi may then call Putin and say, “Vladimir… you can’t threaten the West with nuclear weapons without consulting with me…’
‘How do you know?’
‘Biden just called.’
‘If you do… America will nuke us, too.”’
To which Putin may reply, ‘Xi, this is our moment, let us both fire on America and the West… we will be rid of the monster… and the world will be ours to split.’
‘You’re mad… and drunk with power… and I will not go along anymore.’
‘Not go along?’ says Putin. ‘What does that mean?’
‘Exactly that… I will not go along.’
An irate, exasperated Putin may press Xi, ‘You mean you will do nothing if the West fires back at me? Don’t you think I know they will fire at you, too?’
‘You know that?’ Xi may say.
‘Of course, the West wants everything for themselves…’
‘You say you know that, but you never brought it up with me, Vladimir… all the while you’ve been making threats…’
‘It’s obvious…’ Putin may reply.
And Xi will frown and say ‘That’s all I needed to hear.’

And he hangs up.

It could happen. Just as stated. And then it might not. So, Mr President, you have to be ready, don’t you? The whole world is already at war. Pretending it’s not, is a mistake.

As you tilt back in your chair at the Oval Office, you may reflect… ‘China is sitting prettier than Russia. They have no desire for a nuclear confrontation. Thus, Putin’s threats have limits.
Let us not forget that as we push on with our military aid to Ukraine.
And Xi may well pivot his nuclear weapons in Putin’s direction.
So… fully arming Ukraine to push Russia back to behind its borders is doable… very doable… in fact… necessary.’

So here’s the Putin Paradox. If we stand up to him now, he’s much less likely to carry out his threat. But if we act as if we’re willing to sacrifice Ukraine, he will be further emboldened. And this may lead him to want even more territory which may push us into a corner, making the threat of nuclear war, a greater possibility.


From Russians to the Chinese

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Do not be fooled by Xi Jinping like we have been by Vladimir Putin.
To hold free elections is a great advancement in human beings’ political history.
Power corrupts and no one is spared. No one, no matter how saintly, capable or honest they may appear. No one.
We, Russians, failed in letting Putin remain in power and now are facing the consequences;
the massacre of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and the guilt we must live with.
Though the number of dead is today a mere fraction of what happened to Jews in WWII, we Russians are starting to feel what the Germans must have felt when they finally recognized that they had stood silent and become Hitler’s accomplices.
Deep in our hearts and minds, we no longer cheer when a missile hits a building where families live, killing a mother, a child, a father, ending their possibilities as human beings.
Now we grieve and ask ourselves, what madness have we allowed to be unleashed in our name, in the name of Russians, a people who have contributed to this world and gone through much suffering at the hands of despots.
Why, we ask ourselves, have we allowed it?
Whatever invention Putin came up with it’s all a lie to keep himself and those he favors in power.
We, Russians, are guilty of not speaking up, of not objecting, of not facing our fears.
We are guilty as individuals and collectively.
And we apologize to the world.
We ask your forgiveness and vow to find a way to depose the brutal tyrant who governs us.
We do not want to live behind the ‘Curtain of Putin’, the isolation he thinks is best for us.
No. We want to join the world and be part of every convulsion it suffers, be part of every struggle it faces, every social ill it has to wrestle with, for that is what will help us evolve and develop our civic conscience.
Dear Chinese brothers and sisters, you must do the same. Do not accept to live behind the ‘Curtain of Xi Jinping’ and his interpretation of the world.
Do not be fooled. Anyone who’s willing to take away your freedom of speech is capable of the worst crimes against humanity.
Anyone who is willing to intimidate you will try to walk over you if you let them.
When the time comes, Xi Jinping will order the invasion of Taiwan, do not doubt that for one moment. It is all about his glory.
And you, with your silence, will be his accomplices. Worse, he will ask you to squeeze the trigger, to push the button to drop the bomb and you will do it.
And if the Taiwanese don’t surrender quickly when he orders the invasion, in your name, Xi will want total destruction. ‘It’s a small island,’ he will say, ‘we’ll repopulate it. There’s plenty of us.’
Dear Chinese brothers and sisters, if you make an effort to develop your own political ideas, you will not be cheering the bombing of the Taiwanese but will be protesting such cruelty.
We, Russians, failed to develop our own political ideas and instead deferred to Putin.
Look where he has taken us. And there are more dead to come. More destruction. Schools, hospitals, theatres, residences, energy plants. Putin will let nothing stand in his way.
We, human beings, for the judicious exercise of power, must consent to limits. If we don’t then we abuse our powers.
Look at what’s happening in Iran. In the name of god, the killing and maiming of protesters goes on and on. In the name of god, freedom of speech was suppressed and that’s how it all began.
Apparently, it is only the clerics in power who hear the voice of god. Not the people who are driven to risk their lives in defense of their beliefs.
Democracies are not perfect. They are tainted by all manner of folly and excess for to be human is to be flawed.
We in Russia had a brief period under Mikhail Gorbachev during the 1990’s when we had a taste of freedom. But we didn’t appreciate it and let it slip away. Our mistakes overwhelmed us while no thinker stood up to cry out, ‘let us be patient, we have a history of living in oppression and kneeling before tyrants and czars and it has scarred our souls and minds. What we are going through is new to us, let us give it a chance.’
Had we learned to live with our mistakes and learned to correct them, there would have been no invasion of Ukraine. No killing of innocent people, men, women and children whom Putin, to further degrade them, now calls Nazis.
Dear Chinese brothers and sisters, autocracies breed brutality which – to paraphrase the words of a man whose name I don’t recall – sooner or later comes for you, your partner, your son, your daughter, your friend, your neighbor.

A reader asked me the other day, ‘why do you speak in the name of Russians? You don’t know them’. So here’s my answer, ‘because I assume the best in them’.

A China Russia Split?

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Is it possible? What would it take?
For one, Putin seriously threatening the West with nuclear weapons, since it would imply China allowing the Russian to set the agenda, thus leaving China open to retaliation from the West.
But there’s another reason a split between the two is possible.
Internal dissension in China over Xi Jinping’s ambition to rule until his death.
Xi has miscalculated.
He has assumed that the remainder of the high ranking Communist party officials will be content bowing to his highness until the end of their lives.
The days of Mao Zedong and ruling forever are gone.
‘What about me?’ will ask the very ambitious in the politburo who are forced to suppress their aspirations. ‘I would like to govern, too, and be at the pinnacle for at least a term. Why should Xi get all the goodies for ever and ever? There are other deserving people, too, so we should get a chance to compete for the top post.’ But Xi has said to them, ‘no, I’m top dog and you lick my paws.’
And these ambitious and pushed aside Chinese, filled with resentment for the overbearing Xi, will think about the virtues of parliamentary systems in the West wherein mistakes in leadership are punishable by ousting. You’re in one week but make a bad mistake the next and you’re out the following (i.e, Liz Truss in England recently).
These same ambitious Chinese in the Politburo will think again about democracy in America, a system riddled with problems, a system they love to bad mouth, but where Trump could not stay in power. A system that has investigated the man publicly and where his chances of regaining the presidency are now gone.
These same ambitious Chinese in the Politburo are now looking at Russia and seeing how Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has left a horrible impression in the world, with China clearly viewed as his main accomplice.
But while Putin has domesticated the majority of citizens, hundreds of thousands of Russians found the nerve to tell him ‘go screw yourself, Putin, we’re out of here, we’re leaving because you’ve gone mad and you want us to sacrifice our lives for your inflated ego. But we will not, for we can clearly see through your crap.’
And just like that, a vital section of the most productive members of that society have left the nation and chosen to make their contributions elsewhere.
The sad and tragic spectacle of Putin ordering the butchering of Ukrainians, day after day, is telling the ambitious Chinese in the politburo, that it’s bad business to have so much power concentrated in one person because, inevitably, that person will make decisions without the feedback of other people’s expertise, and some of those decisions will be disastrous.
And the ambitious Chinese in the politburo will not feel good bowing to his highness Xi, certain that sooner or later he will screw up just like Putin has.
Xi’s Zero Covid Policy’s failure is a telling reminder of how much can go wrong.
And does an ill timed invasion of Taiwan not seem a possibility?
How forgiving will the Chinese people be if an invasion of Taiwan results in fierce resistance by the Taiwanese with thousands and thousands killed day after day, all because Xi thought it was the right time to take over the island and underestimated the commitment to freedom of the islanders?
Putin’s enormous failure in Ukraine may be bringing the ambitious Chinese in the politburo to their senses.
Power concentrated in one person without the benefit of feedback is bad business.
Power that doesn’t get to rotate is not good.
Competition is important in every human endeavor. Only through competition is the best selected. And because influencing the affairs of human beings is a complex affair, rulers need to be exposed to a great deal of feedback.
Which is why free speech is critical.
The ambitious Chinese members in the politburo will think these thoughts even if they will be hesitant to propose needed reforms for fear of upsetting his highness Xi.
But they will resent Xi Jinping’s power grab.
And they need only look to Russia and the disaster in Ukraine to realize it could happen to China, too.
So why wait?
Why not start working to remove Xi Jinping – the usurper – from power as soon as possible?

PS – After leading Britain to victory with the rest of the allied forces in WWII, Winston Churchill ran for office again and lost. The Brits said, ‘Thanks, brother. We appreciate it. Now let’s get someone else.’

Missiles Rain on Kyiv. Why not on Moscow?

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Something is off, isn’t it? Putin gets to shoot what missiles he wants onto Ukraine – hospitals, hotels, homes, streets, power generating plants, transportation hubs, defenseless citizens and children – anything. But Ukrainians, lacking the means, cannot give Putin the misery he deserves.
Isn’t this an argument to give Ukraine everything it needs to defend itself?
Short of nuclear weapons we should ramp up deliveries of the weapons they need to attack Russia itself.
And let Putin feel what Ukrainians are feeling.
We haven’t done it thus far, because of the fear of appearing to be ‘escalatory’ in the war effort and so angering Putin.
So what would his wrath be like?
Will he move his nuclear weapons into position?
He may, and if he does, then we’ll move ours.
Will Putin risk seeing Russia go up in flames?
Xi Jinping, in China, will be the first to say, ‘Hold on, Vladimir. I didn’t sign up for this. I mean, I said we were going to be friends without limits, so it is clear to the West that we are your accomplice in killing Ukrainians because we are propping you up. But if you fire a nuclear weapon, not only will you be fired upon in response, but we will be a target too. You’ve been around for a while, but here in China we have just got started on our plans to take over part of the world – the other part going to you, of course. So I don’t want to see Beijing or Shanghai burn. Please, let’s think this over.
Ukraine has a point. If missiles rain on Kyiv, why not on Moscow?
If it weren’t for the missiles, Ukrainians would have pushed your army back further.
So, it looks like you’re losing this war, Vladimir.’
‘They’ve been scared to stand up to me, the West has,’ replies Putin. ‘They’ve been very careful to not give weapons to Ukraine that I will see as escalatory. So I think I can get away with it. It’s not that they’re being cautious, it’s that they’re scared.’
‘Maybe… and maybe not’ returns Xi. ‘But once you start readying those missiles, something could go wrong, and the West will not hesitate to fire in your direction and mine.’
‘I can’t accept that I’m losing this war, Jinping… can’t accept that they’ve pushed my people back. Thousands of Russians have left the country… good people… smart people… to avoid the draft… my international reputation is in tatters… my soldiers have committed war crimes… I’m relying on prisoners as soldiers…’
‘You’re getting desperate, Vladimir. That is not good. I need you around for when I invade Taiwan, so you can back me up.’
‘Trust me, they have more to lose than I do…’ says Putin.
‘I don’t like how you’re talking. This is not about you, Vladimir. It’s about Russia. And about China.’
‘I am Russia, Jinping… like you are China.’
‘No. No and no! Look, I want to be in power forever, just like you… and I will not hesitate to eliminate my adversaries to accomplish my goals, just like you have done… but I’m definitely not China… and you are definitely not Russia. There’s a whole lot more here than you and me…’
‘You won’t back me up?’ asks Putin.
‘I can’t.’
‘What does that mean?’ presses Putin.
‘If you push on with your wish to fire nuclear weapons… ‘
‘I’m not going to fire them, just scare them…’
‘Once you get in that mode, things can go wrong. I can’t accept that,’ replies Xi.
‘I’ll have to tell the West that I’m no longer supporting you… and I will do so because I don’t want to see any of my cities burn… as I’m sure they will… even if we were to land some missiles on America in retaliation.’
‘You’re backing out, Jinping… I can’t believe this… you said we were friends without limits…’
‘I did… but I didn’t say crazy without limits.’


‘I will not accept defeat, Jinping… will not.’
‘Then keep fighting… but stop raining missiles on Ukraine… or the West will arm Ukrainians to the teeth and push you all the way back to your pre 2014 borders. And how are you going to explain that to Russians?’
‘Ukraine does not want to negotiate… they want everything back,’ says Putin.
‘Surprise them. Get creative. Give a little. Offer them all of the occupied territories in the East but you keep Crimea.’
‘They may not accept that, either.’
‘They would be saving a lot of Ukrainian lives… put it in that context. Stress the saved lives. And sweeten the deal…’
‘Sweeten the deal?’ asks Putin, puzzled.
‘Yes… add that you would accept Ukraine as a NATO nation.’
‘What?’ replies Putin, with a flash of anger.
‘You’re losing the war, Vladimir,’ says Xi calmly. ‘Ukraine was never a threat to you. You made that up.’

Putin hangs up.

Xi puts down the phone. He swivels in his chair. He is alone in his office. He shakes his head slowly, concerned with the turn of events.

‘Biden needs to step up and escalate. Putin won’t be able to handle Ukrainians being better armed. But the West needs to act now… not give Putin time to rearm. This is the time.
As far as him using nuclear weapons… he won’t do it… but he’ll walk to the edge… maybe he’ll scare the West… rattle their nerves… but maybe not… and if not… China has to be ready.
We can’t afford a mistake by Putin.’

The Winds of Freedom are Blowing

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There was something vulgar about the way Chinese police detained a protester, as seen in a widely circulated video. A young man, he was carrying a sign that said, ‘Chinese people need to be braver.’
Three security agents apprehended him and dragged him into a police vehicle. I wonder how long it will be before he resurfaces.
Demonstrations against the strict Covid quarantines continue in various cities and the communist party will do whatever it needs to suppress them.
That was the bargain the Chinese people made with their rulers. You, the party, ensure us a measure of prosperity and we will surrender our voices.
But the Chinese people weren’t counting that the time would come when the communist party would say to them, ‘this is how it’s done, whether you like or not.’ And add, ‘we are the governing class. We get to decide what direction your life should take. Not you.’
Under the severe strictures of quarantines, the Chinese have had time to think. ‘Just what is so special about Xi Jinping and his followers? If Chinese people’s labor, intelligence and creativity have lifted the nation, why should we not get more credit for it? When difficult matters come up, why shouldn’t our voices be heard? Didn’t we just launch a rocket that will take Chinese astronauts to our own space station? That was Chinese brains and muscle doing the work, not the ideology of the communist party, or Xi Jinping’s Thought (the widely distributed booklet about the pure wisdom of the nearly celestial leader).’
‘Chinese people need to be braver’ said the sign carried by the protester.
It hit home with his fellow citizens. And so they are asking themselves, shouldn’t we have the right to have our own ideas as to how to govern ourselves?
Why can’t we have elections like other developed nations?
And just what has Xi Jinping done to deserve to be our leader?
The Chinese people are starting to think politically. They are squaring with the fact that they are at the mercy of the Chinese communist party.
Why should they surrender their voices?
Why shouldn’t their opinions be heard, or written in the blank, white sheets of paper that have become the emblem of the protest.
Communist party ideology now has it that China should rise to rule the world. But first they should take over Taiwan so that they can be whole as a people. But taking over Taiwan won’t make China whole. Just like taking over Hong Kong doesn’t either. There is nothing the Taiwanese are now doing that is interfering with the development of China. Nothing at all. The Taiwanese are just busy living their lives. And the small island is enjoying the distinction of being one of the world’s leaders in the production of microchips. They are no threat to any nation at all. But because the Chinese in the mainland have surrendered their political minds to Xi Jinping and his henchmen, the communist party can make the conquering of Taiwan an absolute necessity.
It is all lies.
So why did the courageous demonstrator hold up the sign saying, ‘Chinese people need to be braver,’? Because he wanted his fellow citizens to think. And he has risked his life for it.
We may never see him again. He will probably be sentenced to years in prison or end up in a reeducation camp, like Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, until he withers away.
But his fellow citizens would do well to remember his heroic act, and to ponder what he had written on the other side of the sign, the side we didn’t get to see because the goon squad took him away.
‘Chinese people need to be braver,’ said one side, ‘So we can find our freedom,’ said the other.
The winds of freedom are blowing.
They are blowing from Ukraine.
They have reached Iran.
Now China.
Fight on, brave Chinese, for the world is counting on you.

The White Paper Protest

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Chinese people are defying the rigid mandates of Xi Jinping to contend with the spread of Covid. And with good reason. The long quarantines have severely restricted mobility and curbed economic activity. They are choking the Chinese.
In Urumqi, in Xinjiang province, a province notorious for the repression of the Uyghur population, 10 died in a fire last Thursday, November 24th. The building was under quarantine and they couldn’t get out in time.
There is a beauty to seeing Chinese people protesting against their despotic regime, shouting proudly their opposition to their government’s draconian policies.
The demonstrations, which started in Urumqi, have spread to Shanghai and Beijing.
The Chinese have reason to ask why their leadership has not used the better vaccines produced in the West with MRNA technology – a point of pride getting in the way of the welfare of the people. And so, a full three years after the outbreak of the pandemic in Wuhan, not enough Chinese have been vaccinated which would have raised the level of immunity of the population and reduced the need for the overly restrictive quarantines.
The limitations of movement that come with the communist party’s zero covid policy have only been possible because of the severe curbs on freedom of speech.
There is no dialogue between the citizen and the government and the absurdity of their policies against covid is but one example.
The chosen symbol of the protests, a white sheet of paper, I take to symbolize that Chinese people feel they have no voice whatsoever. They are expected to obey and obey. The leadership has got all the answers.
But the protesters are stepping out in large numbers and saying, ‘enough is enough’.
Will this lead to even larger demonstrations?
My hope is that it will. If so, they need to brace themselves for brutal retaliation.
Xi Jinping and his supporters are now devising ways to crush dissent. ‘How dare this rabble raise their voices, how dare they think they even have a voice? I am their voice,’ will say the chairman.
The protests speak loudly of how the Chinese people have connected with their political courage. How they wish to exercise freedom as an essential means to counter excesses. How without such freedom the whims of those in power do not get scrutinized and questioned.
Some demonstrators may, perhaps, be satisfied with what measures are proposed to lessen the length and scope of current quarantines, but this movement, even in its early stages, is about much more than covid. It’s about asserting people’s rights to be heard and to select who will govern them.
The communist leadership sees that and it is frightened by it.
Who knows how far this movement will go but it is a start and the world needs to be fully supportive of it.
The winds of freedom are blowing. They are blowing from Ukraine. They have reached Iran and now China.
Putin may have already called Xi Jinping with words of advice. ‘Jinping… listen to me, I have experience. Repress… repress… and repress again. Like you did with the Uyghurs, like you did in Hong Kong, like you will do in Taiwan. Fear is good. It works. Please, no dialogue. I need you.’

On China. We Have Our Differences

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Take the Covid 19 pandemic. We know it started in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019, but their leadership chose not to quickly contact the World Health Organization (WHO). Instead they suppressed reports by their own doctors, the first one reporting dying from the disease.
Time was critical but wasted because of China’s secrecy. If there had been openness from the start, a better organized response by all nations would have been possible. It would have led to vastly fewer deaths.
China has also rejected importing western vaccines based on MRNA technology and considered of better quality than the ones they’ve produced.
Their pride gets in the way of their own good.
Their insistence on self reliance has had significant economic consequences as well.
Their policy of strict quarantines in the management of Covid 19 has affected mobility and negatively impacted commerce, leading investors to begin to pull out of the country.
And yet the People’s Republic of China has set the pursuit of self reliance as their national goal. In other words, the Chinese believe they won’t need anyone.
Or are they just very angry at everyone?
‘Why are we not number one yet?’
‘Why did Trump put tariffs on our products?’
Well, because your cheaper products were contributing to unemployment in the US and America had not learned to deal effectively with the problem. Time was needed in the adjustment to globalization.
‘Why aren’t you (the West) not letting Huawei, our state supported electronics company, upgrade your communications infrastructure?’
Because we don’t trust that you won’t use those systems to spy on us.
You already have a history of forced technology transfers from western companies doing business in your land and a history of extensive cyberwarfare to steal secrets from us.
So why should we think it will be any different with Huawei?
You have a long history of censorship of your people, severely restricting freedom of speech and closely monitoring their activities.
Your communist party obviously doesn’t like having any competition.
We, on the other hand, believe competition is central to our wellbeing.
So, no, you can’t have Taiwan. No, because they are a free people and it’s taking them a lot of work to get there. They deserve what they’ve worked for. They don’t deserve falling under the regimentation of your party.
And yet, the West is impressed with all that China has accomplished. You keep building ships and trains and electric cars and sent a satellite to look at the dark side of the moon.
Very good.
But your people are not free.
That’s a huge difference for us.
You’re a strong supporter of Putin and his war against Ukrainians. That’s a lot of killing that Putin has done. And you support the tyrants in Myanmar, also. In other words, where there is a dictator oppressing people, you’re right there to offer assistance.
As things stand, then, you have a long way to becoming number one.
Mind you, because you are a smart people you may surprise us all. Time will tell.
We in the West have a lot of problems, too. Difficulty in communication being one of them. So we need to work hard also.
Right now we’re going through a specially difficult phase. While we talk a lot we haven’t been doing enough listening.
One of our presidents tried to overturn the results of a free election and now he’s announced he will run again. Unbelievable.
To our credit, however, America did not choose him in 2020.
In China, your citizens can’t say, ‘we’ve had ten years of Xi Jinping, we need to look at someone else’. You can’t do that. The party makes sure the Chinese people keep their mouths shut.
In China, they don’t even get the full story of the forced labor camps for the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. Or the brutal repression of the Hong Kong dissenters. And I’m sure they’re not getting the full picture of all the atrocities Putin is committing in Ukraine.
Why, then, should you be number one in the world?
But we’ll keep listening.
I promise, we’ll listen to all your complaints about our mistakes and your belief that we’re in the midst of inevitable decadence.
But we differ here, too. We’re of the view that national growth requires a lot of effort and yet the outcome is hard to predict. Sometimes things move positively, sometimes negatively. But so long as the trend is upward we’re okay. A bit like the stock market. We just have to keep betting on our people.
Also, many of us believe that no matter our present differences, we should not keep your students from coming to America’s schools, should they want to, even if they go back and decide to join the communist party.
Why? Because it just could be, that something about freedom will stay with them, and who knows, that might end up helping China mature and the world become a better place.
So let’s keep talking. Talk is good. Listening, is even better.
In the end, people everywhere, want to be free.
Not ruled by a repressive regime.
The winds of freedom from Ukraine have reached Iran.
That’s not too far from where you are.

A Chinese and an American Talk Politics

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The Chinese, Haitao, is a physicist, the American, Bill, a mathematician. They know each other from graduate school in the US. Haitao returned to Shanghai and is employed in cloud computing by a state owned enterprise, while Bill presently works in the Netherlands in a microchip manufacturing company. They ran into each other at a conference in London.
They sit at a table in a street side café.

Bill – The 20th Communist Party Congress has just started. You think Xi will be reelected for a third term?
Haitao – No doubt. He has done a great job cleaning out corruption and the people admire him.
My worry is that he is too autocratic.
Bill – He will go for a 4th term?
Haitao (laughs) – Probably. And a fifth. Will die in office, like his idol Mao.
Bill – You think China will keep growing the way it has?
Haitao – Yes. Maybe slow down a little but not much. One of the things we have found is a sense of purpose. You don’t have that.
Bill – You mean a sense of purpose as a nation?
Haitao – Exactly.
Bill – And what would that be?
Haitao – To become the dominant nation in the world.
Bill – Dominant?
Haitao – Yes. We want to be number one. And we’re willing to sacrifice our personal freedom.
I know freedom is very important to you, but most Chinese are willing to sacrifice it for a higher cause. We have never been number one. You have been number one for a long time. Now you take it for granted.
Bill – Our system allows for very diverse creativity, in many fields, and the limited governmental interference facilitates development. You’ve had enormous growth with companies like Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, but now the government has chosen to direct their future growth. Don’t you think that will end up having a negative impact on inventiveness?
Haitao – It could. The government is experimenting, so we have to wait and see. Xi has been very clear about the importance of shared prosperity. In America, you talk about that but are very slow to do it. You have Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security but it’s not enough. There’s a lot of poverty in America. We watch you very closely so we can learn from you. Learn what not to do.
Bill – The distribution of riches, how to do it well without diminishing the creative drive, has been a problem for us. We keep going back and forth on that but there is steady progress in strengthening the safety net.
Haitao – Europeans are ahead of you.
Bill – But there is a stronger enterprising drive in America.
Haitao – To what purpose?
Bill – To become all we can be… maximizing the person’s possibilities.
Haitao – See, that’s the difference between you and us. In China, we think more of the collective. You think more of the individual.
And because of that difference, we now have a national purpose, which you do not.
Bill – I disagree. We want to protect the individual’s liberty, their right to create and acquire wealth… and many wealthy people become philanthropists… and give their money to various causes…
Haitao – That is weak, compared to having a national purpose. The benefit of having such purpose is that it commits the citizens to the task and expects from them that they sacrifice for it. No other nation has progressed so fast in 40 years since Deng Xiaoping began China’s opening to the world. We have taken advantage of everything possible… borrowed and stolen, too… but we have created also… and we have now great confidence in our capacities… and faith that we will become the number one nation in the world very soon.
Bill – How soon?
Haitao – At our current pace, I’d say, in 15 years. Max.
Bill – That’s a short time.
Haitao – We are not afraid of you, anymore. We study you closely, and we see how you can’t agree on things. Your lack of national discipline is frightening. We now have a bigger navy than you do. We don’t want to be like you, anymore. We did before, but not now. We don’t have mass shootings in our country. We don’t have an immigration problem. We don’t have the homelessness that makes your cities ugly. We don’t have racial issues, or just a little bit, but not like you.
In our country, politics is orderly, in your country it’s a circus and a waste and money and energy and talent. It is pitiful to watch it.
Bill – And Taiwan?
Haitao – It’s ours. We will not make the mistake that Putin made in Ukraine. But Russia is a second rate power. When the leadership decides it’s time to take Taiwan, we’ll encircle it and take it. It will be quick. For you to intervene will be too costly, so you’ll stay away and curse your weakness.
Bill – You’re pretty cocky about your power?
Haitao – We will always be friends, Bill, but as a nation, the time for China to replace you as number one is fast approaching. You’ll just have to live with it.
Bill – I think you’re underestimating our strengths…
Haitao – America has grown too fat and overconfident.
Bill – We could surprise you… we’re known for coming together when we have to.
Haitao – There’s always that possibility… but you’re too divided… too angry at each other… too unwilling to compromise… and have shown very poor judgment in whom you elect as President. I’m not talking about Biden, he’s done a good job. But I couldn’t believe your country elected Donald Trump, then failed to impeach him, then let him incite an assault on Capitol Hill, and may reelect him again… or let Republicans win both houses in the midterms.
Something is deeply wrong with your country, and I don’t think you can fix it in time to stop our rise to world dominance. Now is our turn. Your time is past.

North Korea Shoots a Missile over Japan

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Kim Jong Un gets a call from Xi Jinping early in the morning.

Xi – Good morning.
Kim – You’re calling about the missile I shot over Japan.
Xi – Yes.
Kim – It went very well.
Xi – I’m not calling to congratulate you.
Kim – I see.
Xi – You’re a fool.


Xi – Suppose the missile had been loaded…
Kim – It was not.
Xi – Suppose it had been… and it malfunctioned, which we all know can happen… then it would’ve fallen on Japan. Then what?
Kim – It wouldn’t have happened.
Xi – Missiles malfunction… yours are no different. Please answer my question.


Xi – Were you there to inspect the missile before it was launched?
Kim – No.
Xi – Then any nuthead could’ve loaded it with an explosive… without you knowing.
Kim – We have strict security protocols…
Xi – Yes, and people willing to circumvent them.
Kim – No. They are fail proof.
Xi – When it comes to humans, there’s nothing fail proof.
Kim – Look, I had to do it.
Xi – Why?
Kim – The world forgets me unless I fire some missiles. Otherwise it’s you, and Putin and Modi and Biden, the English and the European Union getting all the attention.
And now Iran, with all the women protesting. You think they’ll be able to push out the ayatollahs?
Xi – I’m watching carefully. But let’s not get off track. Aside from your bombs and missiles, why are you not getting any attention?
Kim – Because we don’t produce much?
Xi – That’s right. I’m your main trading partner but if you ceased to exist, if you went up in a cloud of smoke, I could get everything I’m getting from you elsewhere.


Xi – And it doesn’t have to be that way, does it?
Kim – I’m following a policy of Self Reliance, just like you are.
Xi – Yes, but we first opened up to the West so we could learn from them and then build on that.
They came, showed us what they have, we paid attention, learned, copied and became creative enough that we’re seen as the ‘factory of the world’.
Kim – But you had the huge market to entice the West, so their eyes widened with the expectation of riches… we don’t have that size market.
Xi – Look at Vietnam, they’re attracting more and more investors who are worried I’m getting government more involved in how Chinese businesses are run.
Kim – Vietnam is four times as large as we are…
Xi – That’s not it. You’re about the size of Taiwan and look at where they are.
Kim – I know what you’re saying… become more productive… open up to world markets… learn from them. Copy, steal, just like you did… and then create.
Xi – Yes.
Kim – But I’m afraid I’ll lose power.
Xi – The Communist party still rules Vietnam, and yet they’ve opened up and now they are richer and better educated. If your people are important to you, take some chances. Look, on October 16th, just 11 days from now, the 20th National congress of the communist party will convene. I am expected to be unanimously reelected for a 3rd term. And I forbid freedom of speech and have everyone on surveillance. Still, somehow, the people… most of them, are happy. So it can be done.
Kim – Congratulations.
Xi – Thank you. My point is you need to take chances.
Kim – The United Nations and America have put all these sanctions on me… because they don’t want me to have nuclear weapons…
Xi – They don’t trust you… but if you stopped the bomb building and let them in so they could make a ton of money, then, when the time came, you could say, ‘I’d like to get back to building bombs’.
Kim – That’s what you did.
Xi – We did our first nuclear test in 1964, well before the West came along. But they didn’t complain when we kept building them, after they came in. They were making a ton of money. Of course, we added that we needed to defend against Russia. Just in case. But times have changed.
Kim – Clever.
Xi – It’s politics. The key is to let the West make money. I think Putin failed on that. With the making of money comes the transfer of knowledge and other skills. Putin has the art of suppressing freedom, he’s got that down, but if he had let more western companies go into Russia and make lots of money, instead of favoring his inside group, then he wouldn’t have felt threatened. He would’ve stayed in power for ever.
Kim – You don’t think he will?
Xi – He’s on his way out. I hope it’s not violent.
I think you need to take the initiative and say to the world, ‘I’m putting all nuclear weapons development on hold. I will not do any more tests and will let UN inspectors come by and check. Please lift the sanctions.’ See what they say.
Kim – I would still forbid freedom of speech and keep high surveillance of the people.
Xi – Yes. You could say, ‘I’m trying the Chinese model’.

Kim laughs.

Kim – What do you think of Ukraine?
Xi – I’m worried about them. They’re making people think of liberty in a whole new way. Which is why I’m against them.
Kim – You think they’ve had an effect on the women in Iran?
Xi – Definitely. It doesn’t help that the ayatollahs are selling drones to Russia to kill more Ukrainians.
Kim – You think the Iran Nuclear deal will be revived?
Xi – The West would be fools if they did.

This piece was edited on 10/6/22, to include the time when China first tested a nuclear weapon.

Why Putin Won’t Go Nuclear

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The recent advances by Ukrainian troops and their recapturing of territory has further raised the possibility that they may defeat the Russian army.
If so, how will Putin respond?
Some speculate that without a face saving outcome, without his having something to show Russians to justify the loss of life and resources, his political standing would be in jeopardy and he will be inclined to use nuclear weapons.
I disagree. I believe Putin has intimidated his countrymen so thoroughly that they will accept the losses. And if internal forces unite to remove him from power he will outsmart them and send them to prison with long sentences, like Alexei Navalny, if not underground.
He’s determined to die while in power and, barring some unmanageable illness, he’ll live for another 30 years. Sad for Russians but that’s who they’re choosing.
There’s another reason Putin won’t go nuclear.
China. Xi Jinping.
The chairman, who also wants to die in power, doesn’t want to get caught in the crossfire should Putin wish to go nuclear.
Xi, who’s closely following the recent developments, would be the first to remind Putin that Ukrainian flesh has become Western flesh.
The chairman will tell Putin, ‘because of their heroism in the battlefield, which your troops have not shown, Ukrainians have conquered the hearts and minds of the western world. They are now part of them. So, to put it bluntly, Vladimir, if you choose to use nuclear weapons on Ukrainians because you’re despairing that your soldiers can’t stop running back, and abandoning valuable armament in the process, it will not just be Ukrainian flesh burning with radioactivity, but western flesh. And the west will hit back hard… and they will tell me, Chairman, screw you, you’re an accomplice of Putin, you’ve had a hand in supporting him and his henchmen, so we’re going after you, too. So it won’t be only Russian flesh burning with radioactivity but Chinese flesh also… and how will I be able to explain that to my people?
And they’ll lose confidence in me and I won’t be able to rule until I die, like Mao did. I won’t be able to see China become the foremost power in the world, ten times superior to the Americans.’
Putin will hear this, if he hasn’t already, and decide to either militarize his entire nation, announcing that a new Hitler has appeared in Ukraine and Russia’s existence is in danger, so they must all remember their great WWII hero, Stalin, and fight again with the same tenacity they once did, or say to his people that the setback Russia has suffered is temporary and they now must regroup and plan their next assault.
Putin is a determined man. He will kill whoever gets in his way.
His nation has abundant resources but the West will need to learn to live without them. That is our challenge. Live without them so we can isolate him. And hope that Russians will one day awaken from their long sleep and retire their leader. Give him a pension and, as punishment, force him to watch video replays of all the destruction he’s caused. Roll by him the names of all the people who’ve died because of his actions. Russians and Ukrainians. Watch in the morning and in the afternoon. One hour break for lunch.
In the meantime, the recent Ukrainian advances tell us exactly what must be done.
Give those brave soldiers every weapon they need and let them drive Russia back to behind its borders.
We’re almost there.
We can win.