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The great misunderstanding when it comes to strongman leaders

Their agenda is driven not by strength but weakness and the result is playing out before our eyes 

By Guy de Jonquières  

Photo: Li Tao/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

From Washington to Warsaw, from Beijing to Brasilia and Budapest, from Caracas to Cairo, the world has fallen under the spell of “strongman” leaders. Nowhere is that clearer than in the mounting tensions between Donald Trump’s US and Xi Jinping’s China. Ostensibly about trade, their conflict is at root a contest for supremacy between a long-established global hegemon and a pretender to that crown.

In one sense, the US-China dispute may look like a clash of the titans, pitting the world’s two largest…

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