Balloons Now Raising Serious Questions; Nikki Haley Announcement This Week
Author: Greg Valliere
February 13, 2023
THERE ARE TWO CRITICAL ISSUES: First, what are these objects? After shooting down three more over the weekend, Pentagon officials freely admitted they don’t know; one top official even refused to rule out something extraterrestrial. There’s agreement on this: they are not weather satellites.
SECOND, IS THERE AN INTERNAL DISPUTE in China, with military hard-liners backing the balloon launches, hoping they further worsen China-U.S. relations? We have to assume that Xi Jinping is in control — but why would he want this public relations disaster to persist?
RESPECTED FOREIGN POLICY EXPERTS such as David Ignatius at the Washington Post believe a Cold War between the U.S. and China is imminent — focusing on “near space,” the thin air that’s 50,000 feet or more above sea level.
SEEMINGLY CAUGHT OFF-GUARD by the initial balloon incursion, the Biden Administration wants to limit the political damage that has given Republicans a potent narrative. Biden aides know they have to act tough; they announced over the weekend that there will be more curbs on U.S. firms trying to sell products to China. Any easing of current sanctions on China is not remotely imminent.
WE’VE ALWAYS THOUGHT that China and America understand the huge economic stakes if relations plunge further; pragmatists in China probably will prevail. But the mood in Washington is deeply suspicious toward Beijing.
THIS IS BECOMING A WILD CARD, with downside risks, as relations between the two most powerful countries in the world continue to plummet. A Xi-Biden conversation by spring might cool the temperature.
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NIKKI HALEY, A SERIOUS CANDIDATE: She will announce for the presidency on Wednesday, and will reap enormous publicity for the rest of this winter as voters get to know the former South Carolina governor and United Nations Ambassador.
WE’VE SEEN HAYLEY charm large audiences at conferences; she’s bright and quick and funny. She’s a hard-nosed conservative, tough enough for the GOP base. Perhaps Haley’s greatest attribute is her age, 51. Along with Ron DeSantis, who’s only 44, there’s a new generation of presidential aspirants itching to run.
BY SPRING THERE WILL BE OTHER CANDIDATES: Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan are ramping up. There’s a long way to go — the first debate will be held in late spring — but Haley may stay in the race for another year, getting the name recognition that would make her an obvious VP pick.
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