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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios 

Several countries have the military and cyber tools to harm America. Some may even have the will to use them.

But as former acting CIA director John McLaughlin puts it, "China is the one country that is clearly challenging the United States for global supremacy... Its challenge ranges across a wide field of power dynamics — from cyber to economics, to science and the military."

McLaughlin explains, "It is fielding and implementing large transformational programs such at the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative that once evolved from U.S. leadership ... creating the fear that even close U.S. friends — all of whom have deep trade relationships with Beijing — will be pulled irresistibly into China's orbit."

It's not just a competition for trade and influence. China is developing military capabilities "that are specifically designed to deter and defeat the United States in a truly global competition, and it’s pursuing victory on all fronts," says Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has been floated as a future CIA director.

  • "China is deploying anti-ship missiles on man-made islands in the South China Sea, meddling in U.S. negotiations with North Korea, propping up the Iranian regime, and taking an ever more menacing stance against Taiwan not because it’s encircled, but because it’s emboldened, and we should take notice," he says.

The bottom line: "China is the most formidable competitor we have faced in our history," Morell says, "And we, the U.S., have not figured out a strategic approach to dealing with it."

Go deeper

41 mins ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: It means former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

2 hours ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.