Fly On the Wall: A Conversation Between Presidents Xi and Putin

(Since Joe Biden’s election in November 2020, Russia and China have set aside political differences and reached a secret, opportunistic rapprochement as short-term allies to undermine the U.S. and the new administration. Following are excerpts from a leaked recording of a recent dinner conversation between President Xi and President Putin.)

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Putin: Comrade Xi, good evening. Hey, good show in Alaska last week with the Americans! Your team really got under their skin with that lecture about human rights. You put Secretary Blinken so far on his back foot he nearly fell over.

Xi: Thank you comrade. We were pleased. I should let you know that the role model for our approach to the Alaska meetings was that old pit bull Nikita Khrushchev and his shoe-pounding rant at the UN when Kennedy was president. We thought about recreating the shoe scene but people would have thought it was just a put-on for TikTok, right? We went a little more low-pro. It worked, don’t you think?

Putin: Dah, dah! OMG, I love TikTok, greatest export from China since pasta! Zach King’s tricks are so great! My favorite is . . .

Xi: Comrade, comrade, we only have a short time, let’s focus on our agenda. I think it’s fair to say that this good cop-bad cop routine with Biden is working, yes? China continues to take the high road while Russia continues to take jabs under the radar, correct? The work you did on the Solar Winds hack was brilliant, by the way. Meanwhile, we’re out building 5G networks in Africa!

Putin: Spasibo, dah, I am proud pit bull! Have you read the U.S. intelligence report about our activities in 2020? My name is on every page! I can’t stop reading it! We learned so much in 2016. Trying to actually hack an election is way too much work. All you have to do, it turns out, is plant a seed of doubt here, a conspiracy theory there, and voila! They still haven’t caught on to the Q thing! There’s a reason nobody actually knows who Q is. He doesn’t exist! And we’re doing all this even though our economy is smaller than Italy’s! Sometimes I wonder just how smart the Americans are.

Xi: Not too smart and way too defensive. That’s our key. I mean, when we played the race card in Alaska it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

Putin: Right? I’ll take some credit for placing some of that BLM content last summer. It didn’t all happen by itself.

Xi: That helped, yes. It amazes me that America can’t rise above its guilt complex about slavery. They actually abolished it 150 years ago. We didn’t ban slavery in China until 1949! Which is a shame because say what you will about those Uighurs, but they are damn good workers.

Putin: I thought when Obama was elected it was game over, the culmination of American ideals and centuries of hard work for equality and justice. But things seemed to get worse!

Xi: Indeed. We were dealt a good hand. I tell people that creating chaos in America is like a downhill putt; you just have to give it a little tap.

Putin: OK, you’re the brains of this outfit. What are the next steps?

Xi: Well, I know it’s a cliché, but I always fall back on Sun Tzu, who said “So in war the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” Americans have three weaknesses: one, their guilt about their history — by the way, I know it was you who was behind that 1619 project at the New York Times, well done! — two, their obsession with their image around the world and three, their tribalism. So we continue to go after their weak spots.

Putin: I have some ideas . . .

Xi: Plus, the Americans seem so trivial sometimes. The whole country was obsessed for a week with British royalty while their southern border was breaking down!

Putin: I wish we could take credit for that Oprah interview, but that was all entirely organic.

Xi: So, you asked about next steps. I think our new theater of engagement is the border. It’s chaos right now. You should troll up some web content about the inhumanity of the refugee experience — play the guilt card hard — and we are preparing to announce the creation of a network of refugee camps on the Mexican side, complete with free wi-fi and 5G connectivity. Then we’ll stand back and see what happens.

Putin: We’re on it. (Pause). So, comrade, things are going pretty well. I have to ask, is there anything that keeps you up at night?

Xi: Yes, one big thing, actually. I fear that one day America will wake up and realize that it is in fact the shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan talked about. That despite the diversity of its demographics it is indeed a single country united by a deep faith and abiding aspiration in liberty and justice. That when it decides to do something big and important, it gets done, as we saw with the development of the vaccine — we’re still trying to reverse engineer that process! In other words, if America gets its mojo back and evolves into a 21st century version of its best qualities, game over.

Putin: It’ll never happen, trust me.

Xi: I wouldn’t be so sure. In the meantime, I’ve brought Jack Ma out of retirement to do some forward thinking on the application of quantum computing to social media so that we can strike deadly blows with an invisible hand. As Sun Tzu said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Putin: As I said, you’re the brains of the outfit, Comrade Xi!

Xi: And you are my Rudy Giuliani, my friend. I loved the way you challenged Joe Biden to a debate on human rights! Total pit bull move! Are you going to host it at Four Seasons Landscaping?

Putin: Spasibo! Brilliant idea. I’m on it!

(Conversation ends.)

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