Michael Ledeen, And what are the costs?
The coronavirus has brought the world to a major turning point, with millions of parents and children infected, locked in their homes, shut out of school, and the like. Along with them are parents and teachers, similarly locked out of their places of work. The turning point affects both sides in the global battle for supremacy, from Russia and Iran to China itself, to the EU and the United States.
Chinese economist Li Xunlei was recently removed from his post as director of Chinese brokerage firm Zhongtai Securities after he posted on social media an analysis that estimated China’s unemployment rate is 20.5 percent, more than three times the official figure announced by authorities.
Li Xunlei remarkably published an analysis of the Chinese unemployment rate that estimated it at a fraction more than than twenty percent, more than treble the official number. He is now out of a job. Meanwhile, some polls show Donald Trump trailing presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden in the upcoming November presidential elections, just as they did in 2016.
But no one seems to believe these polls, just as they rejected the public polls on the eve of the last elections. There is a repetition of the doubts about Trump, just as there was four years ago.
Right now it is interesting to note several things that suggest the 2016 history is likely to repeat itself. The betting markets still have Trump as the favorite, as does a Barron’s magazine poll of 107 leading money managers:
Nearly 50% of Big Money respondents grade President Trump an A or B for his handling of the current financial crisis. Fifty-six percent expect the president to secure a second term in November, while 89% predict the Republican party will keep control of the Senate, and 75% say Democrats will continue to rule the House of Representatives.
The polls are as reliable today as they were last time around, and will be as accurate in November as they were in 2016. Indeed, Trump may well do better this time around than he did last time. As Steven Hayward nicely puts it:
A lot can and likely will change between now and election day, and how the aftermath of the lockdown unfolds (if it ever does end) is anyone’s guess, but if Trump is at or near 49 percent job approval rating on election day he will win.
And this doesn’t even take into account Joe Biden’s ongoing problems, which will become more evident and severe once he emerges from his basement.
So the president looks like a favorite, and is mounting a critique of Joe Biden’s international buddy, Communist China, for its coverup of the virus. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reminded his listeners of Chinese deception in the recent past:
These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab … And so, while the intelligence community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that, and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.
Trump has mounted a fierce campaign against Beijing, rejecting the increasingly common view that Beijing covered up the emergence of the virus in order to increase imports of medicines to limit its dangers, and to put a halt to the spread of the deadly drug.
The Chinese have a big edge in population over the West, and they are well prepared for a dramatic loss of life. Anyone who has studied Beijing’s military strategy will know that the Chinese are well prepared for a significant loss of life in the event of turmoil with the United States.
This is part of a pattern. Just as Beijing is prepared for large losses within the domestic population, their allies in the struggle against the United States are equally equanimous about their people dropping in conflict with the West. Iran has often proposed a swap of prisoners that would free some of their agents in America and other Western countries, lessening the danger that their prisoners might reveal the pattern of Iranian espionage against us.
Last year Iran’s Foreign Minister said in a couple of instances that Tehran has presented a list to the US government suggesting a prisoner swap. The Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that “this suggestion is still on the table,” which confirms there are US citizens in jail in Iran.
Iran is known for holding dual nationals and foreign citizens in jail as hostages and using them for political gain or prisoner swap.
It’s an ugly business, to be sure.