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The world should fear 2024 Escalation lurks on every battlefield

The last days of a hegemon? (Hamid Vakili/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The last days of a hegemon? (Hamid Vakili/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


January 2, 2024   7 mins

When asked in 2020 to envisage the world after Covid, Michel Houellebecq proclaimed, accurately enough, that “it will be the same, just a bit worse”. It does not take a soothsayer to foresee that the same will hold true for this coming year. The year 2023 saw the greatest global resurgence of armed conflict since 1945: 2024 will be worse. We are living, if not through a World War, then a world at war, the great post-globalisation jostling to divide up the spoils of what was once America’s unipolar imperium. This will be as epoch-defining a period as the late Forties were for Britain, or 1991 for Russia.

Unlike the two World Wars, the rival great powers are not challenging the superpower directly — at least, not yet. Instead, American hegemony is being challenged obliquely, as its rivals nibble at the edges of empire, targeting weaker client states in the confidence that the United States now possesses neither the logistical capacity nor the domestic political stability necessary to impose its order on the world. In the Nineties and 2000s, at the height of its unipolar moment, the United States made almost all the world its client state, writing cheques for their security it now struggles to cash: like bankruptcy, decline comes slowly at first, then all at once. The overriding theme of 2024 then, like 2023, will be that of imperial overstretch precipitating retreat from global dominance. From the Red Sea to the Donbas, the jungles of South America to the Far East, America’s security establishment finds itself struggling to contain local blazes that threaten to become a great conflagration.

Yet bad as things are, they could always be worse. We perhaps too easily forget that only six months ago, in the immediate wake of Prigozhin’s dramatic and unexpected rebellion, Russia’s security establishment was engaged in vigorous and public discussion over whether it was necessary to conduct a nuclear strike either in Ukraine, as a warning against the West, or against the West itself. So endemic has the sense of crisis, both globally and domestically, become that the most dangerous nuclear escalation since the Cold War went largely unremarked. We should be grateful that this moment passed, yet the fact it did pass is itself evidence of America’s weakening global position. The brief episode of nuclear anxiety came at a time when Putin’s Kremlin faced both an unprecedented internal threat and the risk of battlefield defeat, on the brink of Ukraine’s much-anticipated summer offensive. But the offensive, as we now know, faltered into a costly defeat for Ukraine, upturning the expected outcome of the war. For our now-lowered risk of nuclear war, Kyiv will pay a heavy price.

Like an inscrutable game of chess, the battle lines in Ukraine have barely moved this year, but expectations for the war’s outcome have been totally reversed. This time a year ago, the consensus was that the invasion was already a strategic defeat for Putin: his armies had proved unexpectedly ineffective on the battlefield, and had crumbled before Ukraine’s rapid autumn 2022 northeastern counteroffensive. Rather than breaking apart through its internal divisions, the Nato alliance had found a new sense of purpose, consolidating itself against the Russian threat and devoting vast quantities of already-existing and soon-to-be-produced materiel towards military victory. That mood of triumphalism has already passed. The promised war-winning Western increase in munitions production simply has not materialised, while Russia’s transition to a war economy, and its seizing of Western companies in response to a sanctions regime whose effects have proved the opposite to those intended, have granted Russia both renewed offensive potential and an economic boom to pay for it. The West imposed on Russia a war stimulus it should have embraced itself. It did not, and as a result this winter is a bleak one for Ukraine; but the year to come looks to be far worse.

Through 2023, Kyiv and its Western backers gambled a successful conclusion to the war on a single armoured thrust in the country’s southeast, punching through Russia’s defensive lines and threatening its hold on the Crimea and Black Sea coast, forcing a humbled Putin into peace negotiations. That gamble failed, and there is now no viable path towards the expansive definition of victory adopted by Zelenskyy at a more buoyant phase of the war. Along the northern border and behind the current lines in the East, Ukrainian forces are hurriedly digging defensive lines, hoping to blunt Russia’s resurgent offensive power in the same way Russia’s fortifications chewed up its own newly-formed and Nato-trained armoured brigades. The “mountain of steel” donated for the offensive by the West will not be repeated; the wave of enthusiastic volunteers who initially manned the lines has been replaced by increasingly unwilling conscripts, with Kyiv planning a further mobilisation of half a million men just to hold the line.

When Zelenskyy’s over-optimistic prognoses of the war’s conclusion were punctured by his military chief General Valerii Zaluzhny characterising the current state of play as a “stalemate”, it revealed growing internal political strife within the Kyiv leadership. But the hard reality is that now offensive momentum has passed to Russia, Ukraine forcing the war into a stalemate that will lead to peace negotiations looks as close to victory as will realistically be achieved. But as things stand, an increasingly confident Moscow shows no inclination towards peace talks without Ukraine making territorial and political concessions indistinguishable from surrender. That Zelenskyy’s senior advisors are floating the possibility of Putin’s sudden overthrow in Moscow as a possible path to victory shows the scale of the threat facing Kyiv. Short of a revolutionary deus ex machina in the Kremlin, the challenge for Ukraine in 2024 will be to hold its defensive lines, degrade Russia’s offensive power faster than its recruitment and industrial production can replace, and maintain the necessary political unity in Kyiv to steer the war towards the least painful conclusion possible. Of all these, perhaps the last will be the greatest challenge.

But as Kyiv struggles, the hegemon is already losing interest in Ukraine, distracted again by its decades-long enfeebling entanglement in the Middle East. Israel is both diplomatically and militarily dependent on the United States, but that relationship is not reflected in Netanyahu’s prosecution of his punitive war on Gaza. When US envoys beg Israel to scale down its war, Netanyahu immediately promises to intensify it. Even as American planners fret over the erosion of their precious munitions stockpiles by the Ukraine war, Israel is burning through US-donated supplies at an alarming rate. Until the US can increase its munitions production and replenish its arsenal, which may take years, every shell fired on Gaza or in eastern Ukraine weakens America’s deterrent power. The result will be the arms equivalent of the “hungry gap”, as its available military resources become increasingly unequal to its global commitments. This shortfall presents America’s rivals with a rare and unexpected window to challenge the superpower directly, in the knowledge that it will struggle to fight a high-intensity war of any great duration.

But if the logic of armaments production, as well as the diplomatic isolation and domestic outrage fuelled by the Gaza war, drives the United States to seek a swift resolution to the conflict, the logic of events leads towards escalation. The risk of the conflict widening to Lebanon has not abated — if anything, Israel appears to be straining at the leash to extend its full-scale war across its northern frontier, as thousands of Israeli civilians have fled their homes as a result of the tit-for-tat exchange of artillery fire with Hezbollah. Yet the blockade of Red Sea shipping by Yemen’s Houthi movement has shown that Western countries face direct costs for their increasingly qualified support of Israel, and that regional powers are increasingly confident in challenging the United States directly.

Having triumphantly survived a years-long war against Saudi Arabia, devastating to Yemen’s civilian population, in which Saudi forces deployed US jets, bombs and intelligence support to little battlefield effect, the risk of a short-lived American punitive bombing campaign must seem a manageable one to the Houthis. Knowing that America has no appetite for a wider conflict that will be seen both internationally and domestically as having been dragged into a war on Israel’s behalf, the Houthis now feel emboldened to attack US naval escorts directly. So politically toxic is Israel’s Gaza campaign that even America’s closest Nato allies prefer to keep their distance from American security efforts in the Red Sea, while as a result of poor procurement decisions, the US Navy is struggling to marshal the resources necessary to keep trade routes open, the basic function of a global empire. Balking at fighting Hezbollah or the Houthis directly, the prospect of a US attack on Iran, deemed an over-ambitious goal even at the height of US power, is unlikely in the extreme, which in turn feeds Tehran’s appetite for risk. Overstretched, wearing down its ships through over-deployment, and suddenly showing itself dependent on weaker, unenthused European allies to make up the numbers, in the Red Sea we are shown a glimpse of America’s naval performance in a future Pacific conflict: the results will be heartening to China.

Like an ailing mammoth, weakened by a succession of individual spear thrusts, the hegemon staggers bleeding across the global scene. Though stronger than any individual competitor, America is not capable of sustaining three simultaneous major conflicts against powerful regional rivals, without mobilising for a war effort unfeasible within its current political dynamics. At the height of its power, when America’s rivals were cowed and isolated, the United States assumed global security burdens that looked easily achievable at the time, while running down the industrial base necessary to sustain them. Bad choices were made, which are now difficult to undo. As a result, the United States has already shifted into a defensive mode, attempting to preserve its gains of better times against resurgent challengers, and delaying the grand-political reordering of global affairs for as long as possible. Yet unlike Russia, Iran or China, America’s democratic system incentivises short-term planning, and offers its leaders the escape route of shifting responsibility for failure to the next, rival administration. Heading towards what looks like an inevitable political defeat in 2024, the Biden administration is already drained of political authority, as tired and absent-minded as the gerontocrat at its helm.

In an earlier phase of America’s history, the looming handover of power would be expected to happen smoothly, and continuity achieved in maintaining the empire’s strategic goals. No such continuity can be expected in 2024. America’s previous two elections were marked by the most serious waves of civil disorder and political instability in decades as each party and their factions within the state bureaucracy contested each others’ legitimacy, each deploying excitable civilians radicalised by their respective court press as proxy weapons. Over the course of the coming year, America will likely be roiled by its internal political dysfunction in a way we have never yet seen, and the rest of the world will live in the shadow cast by the contested imperial throne.

Not just the fate of Ukraine but also of the Nato alliance will be determined by the battle for power in Washington. For Netanyahu, the incentive of America’s election year will be to drag the war out for another year, or widen it into a regional conflict, gambling Israel’s future security on the presumed greater indulgence of the incoming Republican administration. Similarly, for Iran, Hezbollah and the Houthis, the waning days of a cautious Biden administration desirous to avoid a Middle Eastern conflagration presents the greatest opportunity for escalation. For China, waiting in the wings to deliver the final blow, the optimum time to act will be at the moment of Washington’s greatest distraction by internal disorder: perhaps this election season will present an opportunity too rare to pass up, accelerating the timetable to seize Taiwan.

The world is living through its most dangerous moment in many decades, and the logic of events, in every theatre, leads towards further escalation over the year to come. In 2024, America’s fraught domestic interregnum will create a feedback loop with the already bloody global interregnum for the spoils of its empire. Last year was a hard year, drenched in blood and human misery through global conflict: but in retrospect, we may view it as the last golden summer of our world order, with the troubling storms still distant on the horizon. The coming year will be a historic one: we are right to dread its approach.


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
6 months ago

Unherd writers are not in an optimistic mood this New Year. Mary Harrington already provided a scholarly but glum assessment of America and its exported culture, and Aris has continued the theme into the military sphere. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but I’m willing to tolerate, perhaps even hope for, something a bit more Pollyanna-ish in the New Year, if only for my mental health.
My only slight point of disagreement is with the author’s characterization of the Biden administration as “Heading towards what looks like an inevitable political defeat in 2024,…” I’m not at all sure that’s an accurate assessment.
We have yet to see the full force of the Democrat-aligned Establishment, including the legal system, the legacy media, and quite possibly the US security apparatus, unleashed against Trump. Yes, it’s a calculated risk by the Establishment because, even to some of his critics, he increasingly looks like a victim of dirty tactics, but I say never underestimate what the status quo can do to an unpopular candidate. And that’s what really scares me in 2024: the possibility of another four years of rule by the Dems.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
6 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

All Aris needed to add is the overdue California big earthquake taking out America’s high-tech and entertainment industries ….

D Walsh
D Walsh
6 months ago

And the Sun comes up over Arizona bay

Dream a little dream

John Hope
John Hope
6 months ago

Governor Newsome is accomplishing that goal all on his own. No earthquake required.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

Wishful thinking? How about the Yellowstone supervolcano? Or the La Palma (Canary Is) slip + 30m tsunami hitting the East Coast? Don’t forget the meteor strike and next pandemic, or CME ..sure wars are the least of our problems!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Really! You surprise me. What scares me is Trump being elected and becoming the dictator he has promised to be.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Dictators are generally quite clever people, albeit ruthless and evil at the same time. Trump is a simpleton who couldn’t even get a wall built so I think you’re quite safe from America becoming a dictatorship if he’s re-elected

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Trump is the opposite of a Simpleton, he is one of the most astute people, and definitely the most fearless – the way he remains unbowed by 8 years of ceaseless attacks.

I would call him one of the most amazing, clever, and courageous, un-corrupt global leaders in generations. I see him as civilizations last chance.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

I think you may be thinking of the Wizard of Oz? ..or maybe the Pied Piper?

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

…but only for a day Clare, and just to close the border and drill drill drill. a pretty limited agenda for a dictator.

Last edited 6 months ago by Bernard Hill
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Calm down and have a nice cup of tea dear.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

..’ bet you wouldn’t dare say that to her face to face?

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Trump the authoritarian is an urban legend. There is no evidence for it. He governed as a centre right republican.

He has promised to fire a thousands of federal public servants if they refuse to co-operate with his administration. But given that they work for him, he is entitled to do this.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
6 months ago

As long as he does it within the terms of their contracts and within the law. He does seem to have had issues with bold statements set aside when action needs to be taken to follow through.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

A new Presidential Order will change the law!

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
6 months ago

Around here we say “shooting his mouth off”.
It’s his entire raison d’etre. He never really follows through. Just finds something else to shoot his mouth off about. He’s right on the edge of “harmless”.
If everyone stopped opposing him and let him have what he wanted he’d probably go home and kick the cat!

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
6 months ago

The U.S. Administrative state has grown into dysfunction and duplication and could use a paring back.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

You don’t think the dictators are already in control? AIPAC, MIC, WEF – all the same nice people.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
6 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Yes, and the very dishonest and foolish NYTimes journalist, Maggie Haberman who would have it that Trump is the boogie man for ensuring local Republican primaries are done orderly, while totally ignoring the anti-democratic moves on the Left to keep candidates off both Democrat and Republican primary ballots and then claim they are ‘Saving Democracy’. The American public is being had by the Democrats so they need to wake up.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

That’s what the American Progressive Left wants you to feel – fear – it’s the only way they can retain power because their policies and ideas are not working. Hence, Joe Biden’s dark speech yesterday that offered no vision but just a screed against the opposition and the offering of ‘fear’.

Hit
Hit
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

He meant that in the sense that he would use a lot of executive privilege. But keep in mind that Biden holds the record for the most executive orders for a President.

Gary Howells
Gary Howells
6 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I do wish the doom-mongers would just keep quiet for a few more days. This is just catastrophe porn. It’s easy to write and causes unnecessary angst in an already beleaguered world. There is no special insight here, just predictable, lazy analysis. The world has and slways will be in crisis. We get through it.

Last edited 6 months ago by Gary Howells
Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  Gary Howells

This article greatly understates the reality of 2024-2025. Things are at almost Armageddon stages now.

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
6 months ago

Fear, anger and hatred are wiping out all civil norms. A force of chaos is unleashed on the world, epitomized by extinction climate hysteria and violent racial hysteria against “colonizers”, aka the peaceful Western economies. The opposites of fear, anger and hatred, are love, trust and peace. We have a choice to listen to the fear porn, or listen to the still small voice of calm. The world didn’t suddenly go mad in a day. We have been listening to media with their hair on fire, and our brains have atrophied.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon Templar

I’d suggest finding another phrase for those ‘peaceful Western economies..’ You might be overlooking some economic and arms sales-based aggression that is hardly still, small or very calming from the other side of the fence. But I agree that there’s a lot of overstatement around this week.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon Templar

For sure.. a poisonous epidemic of evil has taken over as the new zeitgeist.. it is everywhere to be seen.. though it is largely ignored or even aided and abetted by propaganda saturated, gullible people everywhere, not least in the US. If there was a critical mass of normal human decency, Cornel West would win the US ‘election hands down!

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
6 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

If I remember correctly, at the time, didn’t Cornell West want to submit music CD’s or something other than ‘written work’ which Harvard rejected!?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon Templar

The pent-up fury of the ancient world is being unleashed on to the modern world. We underestimate, to our great peril, how much the rest of the world hates us.

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
6 months ago
Reply to  Gary Howells

We have been subjected to “catastrophe porn” ever since Trump took the presidency in 2016. Trump came on the scene as an existential threat to the global ruling class. There has been no limit to the hyperbole of his desecration, 4 years of Russiagate, then the J6 not-an-insurrection false flag “attack” which the media are still lying about in terms of fatalities. (Unreleased video shows capital police escorting protesters around Capitol tourist sights. So not an armed incursion, just a common-or-garden protest.) Trump as dictator is a false flag. So what is true? What is true is that the fear of a robust and strong America is anathema to left-wing global hegemony. The leftist US media and this far-left US administration are doing everything possible to destroy America from within. Open borders. Catastrophic borrowing. Violent speech. Massive fearmongering. Trashing the Constitution. The enemy is within, and it’s not Trump. It’s the cancerous attacks on every American virtue. Trump is a sideshow to stir up hate. He is the Two-minute Hate. He is ‘Goldstein’ in 1984.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
6 months ago
Reply to  Gary Howells

Until we don’t.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
6 months ago
Reply to  Gary Howells

I disagree. It’s not being ‘doom-mongering’ as much as laying out the particular factors – elections and on-going wars – which will be things to consider as we move forward into 2024.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
6 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Never have I seen such a weak president as Biden. He is not only corrupt but also senile.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

..and those are the least of his shortcomings!

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
6 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

President Big Guy can count on vote harvesting to generate a huge vote for him in 2024. The question is whethe the Republicans can beat the margin of fraud with all major news outlets censoring news and fighting for Democrats. The lack of a red wave in 2022 seems to indicate that Dems will come close to winning.

The only way they don’t is if people think Dem’s tactics of stretching the law to remove Trump from ballots for a crime he’s never even been charged with are not the way things should work. Further, about 300 Jan 6 convictions stand on Sarbanes Oxley Section 1512c, which was aimed at disrupting commercial corporation procedings, not Congress. If the Supreme Court overturns those convictions, it could be very embarrassing for Democrat prosecutors and judges. It would make all the Jan 6 trials look like political persecutions.

What makes the Supreme Court outcome unpredictable? The DOJ has already failed to protect the Justices’ homes from protests, contrary to law. The DOJ has also threatenned to do it again. This threat is a direct attempt to intimidate the Supreme Court.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

Haven’t Republicans made it almost impossible for black Americans to vote? Surely that counts? Also not a single Muslim voter will vote for Biden.. surely that counts too?

Mark Royster
Mark Royster
6 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Biden beat Trump without “almost” a single black vote.

James Knight
James Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Hit the nail on the head. The American political elite will use everything to stop Trump. Even if it means setting half the country on fire. Will destroy the credilibity of every institution in the country just to stop Trump from winning.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
6 months ago

I have a feeling that there will be a lot of “I told you so” to people who wanted to see an end to American global hegemony. This is what a multipolar world looks like and it isn’t going to be pretty. Before too long, we will miss the days of America serving as the “World’s Policeman”.

If there was any good news, I would say that increasingly in the West, the Culture Wars are shifting away from those who advocate divisive identity politics. People can see these ideas for the madness that they are and insane organisations like Stonewall and a raft of DEI measures are being scaled back and defeated both in the legal courts and those of public opinion, especially after things like 7th October. There’s still a long way to go, but I hope we are at least at the end of the beginning. These people have undermined our civilisation for too long and emboldened our enemies, we should show as much mercy as they would show us.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
6 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

Mid 1990s I would agree. If you can point to any stability brought by the wars in the Middle East, and North Africa I would be interested to learn. That and the export of their racial politics has destabilised Europe.

Europe does need to grow up. Protect the garden – from immigration and wars. And in doing that we will come to conflict with the Americans – particularly the American left, who think that controlling borders is racist but killing a few million brown people a decade is ok. Look at the fevered response to Hungary in the US – a nation of 5 million people with a belief that it has a right to birder control, the great and good of the American left treat that nation as Nazi Germany.

John L Murphy
John L Murphy
6 months ago

Hungary has nearly double the 5 million population claimed here. And they might be more concerned with ‘border’ rather than ‘birder’ control.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  John L Murphy

Deal with the substantive point.. try not to be such a pedant..

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

When you say “..we will miss the days of America serving as the World’s Policeman” I presume you are white, Christian (quasi at least, or Jewish (Aska-n¤z¡ at least) and/or live in an obedient US vassal state? If any of those doesn’t hold up then my guess is you’re looking forward to a better life from the blood stained rubble and famine that surrounds you? ..ie if you’re unfortunate enough to live in Palestine, Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or a dozen other states that failed to kowtow you might see the US’s slaughter of 8 million (US University study) unfortunate victims of “police brutality”. Smug is good though!

Mark Royster
Mark Royster
6 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Well even awful things can get a lot worse.

Corrie Mooney
Corrie Mooney
6 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

100%!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

Struggling to link Stonewall to 7 October.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago

Concur with the general premise about 2024 – a year that will greatly influence all our lives.
The position though is not as dire as perhaps the Author conveys. The West remains a stirring Giant that in truth has hardly mobilised. If it did then the aligned enemies can all be overcome.
Re-routing some trade around the Cape generates some costs, but opportunities for others to offer new sources of supply. For those feeling Globalisation needs a nudge in a new direction this may not be unhelpful. Forcing some Arab states, Saudi esp, to press for a Gaza solution that more involves them not unhelpful either.
Ukraine can contain Putin and has a secure western Black sea route now. It can still make Crimea v costly for Putin, but insufficient strike force to re-take. A 38th parallel scenario remains v likely but not until Putin sees if Agent Orange can come to his rescue. Ukraine therefore must hang on and it can.
The biggest shock-wave by far would be Xi attempt to invade Taiwan. Militarily this is not easy and a blockade more likely. Breaking such a blockade would test the West like nothing since the darkest moments of the Cold War I. But there is a ring of Nations there who would align immediately – Japan, S Korea, Australia, Philippines etc and it would not be the US alone. Xi’s position is not as strong perhaps now that the China economy struggling and a possible removal not impossible if he miscalculates.
2024 presents the Totalitarians and Autocrats with grave threats too that their weaknesses are further exposed. They all understand that overreach threatens them too.

Terry M
Terry M
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

common sense – other than the stupid swipe at Trump.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Remind me where Russia’s military was going during the Agent Orange years.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The threats to the West presented by Putin and Xi are trivial compared to those we face from our own bureaucracies and the governing class they serve.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

So speaks someone I suspect never been in a war-zone.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

If your looking to War Zone probability you need to look to the US and NATO.. those other two very rarely, if ever, invade countries outside of their immediate geographical areas..
Currently the score is 8 million dead to almost zero, in the past 30 years.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

US or NATO never made a mistake? No I wouldn’t argue that for sure. But interested in your 8million calculation – how’s that made up?

starkbreath
starkbreath
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Actually, they are the same.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

No, the writer wholly missed the actual causes and dangers. Basically it is the ‘Trans-humanist’ cult of the New World Order. The Billionaires who seek to create a new human with AI merged – and for the rest – depopulation to .5 Billion. Watch some World Economic Forum – they will tell you exactly this. Recall also most World Leaders are WEF ‘Young Leaders’ who attended their seminars and are linked.

This is the final battle.

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
6 months ago

Beware CRISPR technology. Today we can edit genes to stop a disease. Tomorrow, we make a superhuman. Big Science is officially the enemy of humanity tomorrow. Unless we stop it today.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

Yep, ‘certainly in the mix alright..

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Once upon a time…
…”the position though is not as dire as perhaps the Author conveys. The West remains a stirring Giant that in truth has hardly mobilised. If it did then the aligned enemies can all be overcome”..
And they all lived happily ever after!

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
6 months ago

And that’s just the external warfare. Add to that the internal lawfare in various geographies with 3 billion people going to the polls in 2024 and one might want to stick to cat videos on Tik Tok.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

I think it is all so crazy in the world now it is time to buy Alex Jones new book, and watch some of his shows (‘Rumble’ has them all). This conflict is for the very soul of humanity, not just over the established powers. This is coming and will be the fight of Moral and Ethical Good and Evil – it is not looking too positive an outcome.

AI sits at the very core of it all – the Global Powers behind the throne see the future as being joined with AI – they are maneuvering the globe to some outcome which will be our doom. AI means the world is something entirely new – the Singularity may be here – or very soon. Then all is unlike anything in history.

If you do not see the Unified and synchronized response to covid, the universal Ukrainian flag in every window, the universal cult of Trans in the schools and governments, of education all captured by postmodernism, and so on – this is not the world wandering blindly powered by individual greed and corruption. This is the move of global conquest by the puppet masters behind the curtain.

Barrie EMMETT
Barrie EMMETT
6 months ago

My sentiments entirely.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
6 months ago

What would a Chinese invasion or destruction of Taiwan do to the worldwide supply of semiconductors? Just a question. I don’t know but it seems as major an issue as that of the supply of oil and gas.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
6 months ago

Major vulnerability. Indeed, beyond threats of war, the computing power required to usher in generative ai will require.a breathrough in quantum computing to handle processing requirements. as it is the big tech players are recruiting nuclear scientists to.build theirnown power plants.
In relatively short measure ai data centres will become a country’s most strategic location as we outsource control. .

Last edited 6 months ago by Susan Grabston
Nell Clover
Nell Clover
6 months ago

Taiwan produces 90% of all advanced semiconductors in plants that cost tens of billions and take half a decade to build. Taiwan also produces 60% of all semiconductors. These plants are not easily replaced: despite billions in subsidy and the world watching, the USA is struggling to build its own not-quite-state-of-the-art semiconductor plants and desperately needs skilled staff to come from Taiwan.

An invasion of Taiwan would stop nearly all global advanced manufacturing within days. Within a few weeks even a lot of primary manufacturing would come to a halt due to the loss of downstream customers. If Taiwanese fab plants are destroyed and / or the West blockades a Chinese held Taiwan, then within a few months energy and water infrastructure would begin failing as replacement parts become impossible to source. Governments would need to prioritise industrial production in a way not seen since WW2.

Last edited 6 months ago by Nell Clover
Terry M
Terry M
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

An invasion of Taiwan would stop nearly all global advanced manufacturing within days.
The vector is right, but the timeframe is not that short. Most computer systems are not replaced frequently, so it will be business as usual for quite a while outside Taiwan. The stock market will go crazy, however.

P Branagan
P Branagan
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Might I humbly suggest Ms Clover is, at best, being a bit hyperbolic with regard to impact of the shutdown of Taiwanese semiconductor plants. The Taiwanese do indeed control the fabs that make high end chips – that is, chips made using EUV lithography machines (made by the Dutch company ASML) for 3 to 7nm processes.
However, these chips are largely required for making very high end smart phones and for AI applications. The overwhelming majority of semiconductors produced across the world are for mundane applications like washing machines, drones and cars. They outnumber the high end chips by several orders of magnitude.
Both the Russians and the Chinese have the capability of producing these run-of-the-mill chips as is evidenced by their capacity to manufacture huge quantities of missiles and drones.
I fear many things for 2024 – but our energy and water systems shutting down due to a shortage of advanced chips from Taiwan is most certainly NOT one of them.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  P Branagan

That’s good to know.. although one wonders where all those Taiwanese semiconductors go of they are as unwanted and unnecessary are you suggest?

El Uro
El Uro
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

We all gonna die!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

Wasn’t it “Yippee we’re all gonna die”?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago

Why would China want to destroy that? It serves no purpose. The CCP hasn’t laid waste to Hong Kong, either, despite the hue and cry. I’m not sure that military conquest is what Mr. Xi considers upon waking up each morning.

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

It hasn’t laid waste to HK but it has caused a huge exodus of people and money.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

True.. death and wanton destruction is more a Western thingie isn’t it?

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
6 months ago

Agreed. But much smart money (for what it’s worth) is thinking that the potential cost to China is too great for Xi. The destrution of just one or two chip factories in Taiwan would sink the Chinese economy even quicker than ours.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
6 months ago

China has purged and replaced 9 high ranking flag officers and defense industry officials, including their defense minister, in the last 3 months. It’s unlikely the PLA will be ready to do anything about invading Taiwan in 2024 without reorganization. The new defense minister is a naval admiral, the first admiral to serve as defense minister. This appointment will likely be very disruptive.

The 3 defense industry officials replaced were probably removed for corruption, possibly because the weapons they produced didn’t meet specifications.

Tom Hammer
Tom Hammer
6 months ago

Frankly, I’m sick and tired of finding chips in everything these days. From cars to toasters. Harder if not possible to repair and a quantum increase in fragility of everything. All for a marginal reduction in cost. I have plenty of examples and would be happy if all these chips just disappeared.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

China depends on Taiwanese semiconductors as well don’t forget..
When Taiwan is convinced the US is busted it will see its bread is much better buttered by its own fellow countrymen especially when they see the latter is in the clear ascendancy.. Invasion entirely unnecessary!

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
6 months ago

Do you miss Trump yet?

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

It is Trump, or the world destroyed. This invasion of the West – 12,000,000 men of military age and no skills – into USA from the OPEN Southern border under his direction is to destroy the West. Another Biden term and we are conquered. That is one of 100 things the utterly demonically evil Biden regime is doing to destroy the USA, and also the West.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

How do you find 12 million men without skills? ..smart enough, brave enough, resourceful enough to illegally cross an international border to make a new life, but not a single skill between them. Now that is what I call an achievement!

Chris Reardon
Chris Reardon
6 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Is walking a skill in your world?

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
6 months ago

Is it really true that Ukraine ever had a chance against Russia and her forces? The United States spent years and billions of dollars to pick this fight, only to get punched in the nose. I don’t think stupidity is to blame, but what Dostoyevsky called a “book,” a “demon” even. The United State is in the grips of an idea. Its ability to see clearly is thus impaired. It mistook its wishes for horses. It is the oldest of stories yet the hardest from which to learn.

Peter Murphy
Peter Murphy
6 months ago

Ukraine never stood a chance, which is why the stalemate is surprising. The war has exposed Russia’s conventional arms weakness. Russia has been unable to establish air superiority against a third rate airforce.
Stalemate against a smaller neighbor is not a strategic victory, and neither is being bled dry of men and materiel by your old enemy for a few billions. A disaster for Russia, with more casualties than the US sustained in Vietnam in a much shorter amount of time.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Murphy

The stalemate is maybe not so surprising if one gives Russia credit for its stated purpose; namely, to keep NATO off its borders. That is a much narrower purpose than the one the Biden administration relentlessly attributed to Putin and his country. We’ll see I suppose, as Russia is now surrounded by a wealth of delicious targets. This is Putin’s ultimate test.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Murphy

You are wrong. Please watch ‘The Duran’ on Youtube or Rumble – or Scott Ritter, or Col Macgregor.

Russia is letting Ukraine completely destroy its Military by smashing its self against its stationary, dug in, minefield protected, army. Their policy is why go into equal battle and suffer high losses when the insane West forces the Ukraine pawns to go into the meat grinder and destroy its self.

When Ukraine military is completely used up – Russia will come out – till then why? They lost 1/10 what the Ukrainians do, as they charge dug in artillery and mine fields.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago

Ukraine has used up its young men who could not flee of pay enough to escape the military. It sends women and crippled and old men to the meat grinder.

This is the most heartbreaking thing I have seen

”Ukraine Is Sending Men With Down’s Syndrome to the Front Line”
Not only is he there, but his own soldiers torment him – they are turned psychopath in that utter horror which is the Ukraine war – and it all is 100% POINTLESS!!!!! The trenches have broken those who fought in them – PTSD will be the norm in Ukraine after this Proxy war ends.

https://rumble.com/v44fcgc-ukraine-is-sending-men-with-downs-syndrome-to-the-front-line.html

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
6 months ago

Pregnant women too, if reports are to be believed.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

Truth it seems is not popular.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

Indeed. The old maxim also applies: Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake. Total destruction, death and mayhem is the West’s approach.. Putin is more your ‘softly, softly catchee monkey’ type.. what’s the rush? He’s winning, hands down. The US is running out of weapons (unwanted cluster bombs to Kyev and dumb bombs to Israel is all that is now available, it seems).. US debt, political instability, warmongering everywhere: Putin and Xi, and Iran etc are lovin’ it!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Murphy

..if you remove the wishful thinking, fake news, Western propaganda and MSM lies your contribution would be very different.. it might even disappear altogether and reality might take over.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
6 months ago

The question is, what did they actually do with that much money?
Barely a few hundred (mostly older generation or obsolete) tanks, no fighter jets, inadequate numbers of artillery, AD missiles and ammo…
Obviously, when you are “defending democracy” in Ukraine, of all places, against a Russia successfully provoked after years of provocation and NATO expansion…..you can’t be expected to provide an audit for those billions, or disclosure on the role played by US arms companies or certain politicians.

The other question, of course, is why couldn’t the US spend all that money in 90s Russia to build up friendly ties and support democracy, or keep off supporting losers like Yelstin or turning a blind eye to the corrupt oligarchs. Would have worked a bit better, perhaps

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

It’s difficult to have money left over to buy stuff when the corrupt MIC food chain has eaten most of it along the way.. only crumbs left..

Anthony Havens
Anthony Havens
6 months ago

The United States spent years and billions of dollars to pick this fight, 

Rubbish – The only one who wanted this war was Putin, and its far from lost yet – especially if it leads to the demise of the instigator.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
6 months ago
Reply to  Anthony Havens

It might be rubbish, and the truth is I have nothing but hearsay to offer. According to that hearsay, the US spent, in years between 2010 and 2015, some $15,000,000,000 in Ukraine, to rid that country of one leader and replace him with another. One, mind you, a bit less pro-Russian. If that’s true, the US was playing chess with the lives of the Ukrainian people. A big “if” of course.

Peter B
Peter B
6 months ago

Mr Roussinos blunders on, as deluded as ever.
He may want the US to be in terminal decline. That’s a very different thing from it actually happening. The reality is that the US is becoming relatively stronger against the likes of Russia and China and not – as he claims – the reverse.
The US has many problems, for sure. And lousy politicians. But it also has a proven record of adapting and solving problems. They are a nation of can-do problem solvers. And their political systems has provbed its capacity to tolerate idiotic leaders before. That’s a strength, not a weakeness.
Unlike Russia and China, the US has a flexible and adapatable, diversified economy and favourable demographics. For all the catastrophising of commentators like this author, millions of people are still voting with their feet to go and live in the US. No one is queueing up to move to Russia or China or the other supposed utopias of the BRICS and so-called “Global South”.
He might care to reflect that serious investors know that the time to buy is precisely at the moment of maximum pessimism. If everyone is convinced that things are bad and getting worse, then that’s often a good sign that the market has bottomed.
The pessimism if massively over-stated here. Much as the tech/AI optimism in the US stock market is over-stated.
I also wonder if Mr. Roussinos ever checks back and tests his predictions against reality and learns and adapts his views. I see no evidence of this.

Terry M
Terry M
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

While America is dynamic and flexible, it is also slow to act/react/adapt in many ways. I am afraid that things are moving too quickly and the current Presidement is too senile/stupid to do anything useful. As uncouth and flamboyant as Trump is, he will be a welcome relief.

simon lamb
simon lamb
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I scrolled down here looking for someone to challenge the morbid outpourings of Roussinos’ NYE party hangover, and Peter B hits the nail on the head. For all the rotten politics in the world (’twas ever thus), in the end markets run the show – vast, powerful markets – and none more so than the US, where markets have surged recently having been massively oversold by inflation bears. China’s rise as an economic power is real, but largely export dependent and dollar denominated – so the moment it upsets international markets, note how its fist quickly turns into a limp handshake. Xi’s latest pronouncement is to take over Taiwan by 2039 – not exactly a real and present danger. All his threats have done is to make sure its micro-processing industry is exported, putting it beyond Xi’s reach, just as Putin’s aggression has resulted in the most rapid expansion of NATO ever (then again – if you fall for his line that that was the reason for his aggression you’ve been watching too much RT)
Meanwhile Putin has resorted to kidnapping people off the street to fill the huge gaps in his daily decimated army – not the actions of a confident winner. That Roussinos and others fall for his propaganda, when all he is doing is what Hitler did so many times at post-peak empire, is to try to shore up his credibility. Sheer bravado. There are many twists and turns to come – but make no mistake – when the chips are down democracies always wake up, for the simple reason that territorially acquisitive dictatorships are by their nature an existential threat to all of them.
If there is a major threat it is from within – from a generation who haven’t been taught history and no longer know the difference or the relative merits between a democracy and a terrorist organisation.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  simon lamb

Alpha + Sir.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago
Reply to  simon lamb

Mr Roussinos mistakes the flutter of events for deep trend-level dynamics. Mr Lamb is much closer to the ‘correlation of forces’ (as the Soviets liked to call them) in geopolitics. We are – of course – in a world war and have been since 11/11 when the PRC was allowed into the WTO: the fox in the hen house. It’s just that whereas our enemies have known this we have been introspectively obsessing with self-harming. 7/10 in Israel moved us into the early stage of the second phase. the Free World is vastly richer and more capable and early controlled escalation as is occurring viz a viz Iranian proxies is both prudent and the safer way. Si vis pacem para bellum.

El Uro
El Uro
6 months ago
Reply to  simon lamb

Peter B hits the nail on the head (Roussinos’ head, I hope 🙂 )

Mint Julip
Mint Julip
6 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

I certainly prefer his predictions. After reading the column and the posts below the line, I was beginning to think I may as well stay in bed tomorrow, and for the rest of the year.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
6 months ago
Reply to  simon lamb

Russian supplies to the Crimean Peninsula and occupied Western Ukraine flow through 2 choke points :the Kerch Strait Bridge and the rail junction at Tokmak. The Kerch Bridge can be easily hit by cruise missiles &drones Ukraine has currently. After last summer’s offensive, Tokmak is in easy Ukrainian artillery range.

In addition, Ukraine recently sank a Russian LST loaded with explosives in a Crimean port. The Russian Black Sea Fleet has been forced to abandon Crimea.

The result is that Russia will not be able to supply occupied Western Ukraine and the Crimea. They will be forced to abandon it by next summer.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  simon lamb

.. a generation that falls less and less for fake history, surely? ..one that is waking up from endless propaganda and white washing.. among the young the effect is startling! There’s hope for humanity yet, not much granted, but some…

Alex Colchester
Alex Colchester
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

The SP 500 is near to all time highs, so it’s a strange moment to invoke contrarian investor psychology and state pessimism is at its highest and it’s ‘time to buy’. If anything, everything is perfectly setup for a massive bull trap- a final stock market surge to new all time highs, which will suck in all the doomers of 2023 who failed to anticipate the recent run and allow the insiders to offload ‘their bags’. Then comes the massive crash in late spring 2024 heralding the start of a decade long Depression. This lines up timing-wise very well with Aris’s 2024 gloomy assessment.
For a trigger, I will be looking for a ‘sell the news’ type event- a groundbreaking AI development should do the trick

Last edited 6 months ago by Alex Colchester
Peter B
Peter B
6 months ago

If you read my comment carefully, you’ll note the caution about the overheated US stock market (this is not investment advice – I’m the last person to listen to there). In my view the global optimism/pessimism political outlook and stock markets are out of sync.
A stock market correction does not mean a depression. That is very rarely the case.
[Personal opinion only here] The stock market correction has already partly run its course in the US (or at least started) for the non-FAANG (non tech giants) part of the market. It’s only Apple, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, etc which make the market seem so buoyant. Indeed a highly unstable situation where so few stocks account for so much of the US stock market. And one in which your index fund will buy into tech stocks for you whether you like it or not – so reinforcing the over-valuation. Not a good thing at all.

Alex Colchester
Alex Colchester
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I did read your comment carefully, I was just pointing out it was contradictory. Your logic is as follows: we are at a time of maximum pessimism AND that pessimistic is unwarranted. Ergo you invoke the mantra to buy into the market when such a situation arises. But then you say the market is overvalued and distorted and warn one shouldn’t buy into it. You can’t have it both ways.
I get it, you want the pessimism to be unwarranted. Unfortunately your desire for that narrative to play out over the next few years isn’t being reflected in how the market is setting up. Markets are forward looking- they’ve already priced in your optimism.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

You are only as good as the last problem you resolved.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

Interesting take.. feichimís (Gaelic for ‘we shall see’ – late Spring you say?)

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

millions of people are still voting with their feet to go and live in the US.
Which is becoming a problem as even a cursory glance of news here will show. It stands alongside unchecked crime, failing schools, an economy that produces very little, and a divided populace as things that do not denote internal stability. Yes, people can adapt and often do so in spite of, or perhaps to spite, a political class that seems to know better. And this is on top of unsustainable levels of debt.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

“The US …also has a proven record of adapting and solving problems. They are a nation of can-do problem solvers. ”
You are talking about a US that existed 20 years back, before diversity / inclusion, “masculinity is toxic”, feelings not facts, etc.

And the US economy, people “voting with their feet to go and live in the US”, is a function of past generations.

For several centuries, Europeans voted with their feet to leave Europe. That doesn’t mean India and China, historically far ahead of Europe in terms of science and human potential till medieval times, were still stronger than Europe in 1600-1900, in fact very much the opposite .

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

haaaahaaa wait,,, this is irony, right Peter?

Anthony Havens
Anthony Havens
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Unfortunately your “favourable demographics” are not of the same people who made America great.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
6 months ago

When liberal democracy is spoken of as some kind of autoimmune disease instead of a high point in human acheivement, we’re left with a frantic search for a remedy.

The real danger of 2024, as democratic states go to the polls, is what that remedy might look like.

Are we to be the patient who prevaricates instead of going to the doctor, trying to convince ourselves that niggling pain will pass of its own accord?

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

‘Enlightenment Liberal’ democracy, such as the actual writers of the Constitution were, is one thing.

Modern Liberalism is ‘Postmodernist Liberalism’, and is an autoimmune disease.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
6 months ago

There were many of us here who saw the fiction being created from the outset. Russia was winning from early on… especially when the West refused to negotiate.

Last edited 6 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
6 months ago

Yup.

Anthony Havens
Anthony Havens
6 months ago

You mean “refused to surrender” Ukraine against Ukraine’s wishes?

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
6 months ago

Always enjoy seeing a rosy and optimistic New Year’s story.

Mark Melvin
Mark Melvin
6 months ago

This is all jolly gloomy but perhaps there is another way to look at it which is that the US has become sick of funding Europe and its main area to look out for is its maritime borders; the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The US has virtually no dependencies on any other nation for anything and after 75 years of being told they are big schoolyard bullies, they may be thinking ‘OK see you later… maybe’. They were isolationist before so why not now again? Maybe we should have said ‘thank you” a bit more often.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

No, that is not it.

Burke S.
Burke S.
6 months ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

I completely agree and nobody here knows what the hell we’re still doing in the Middle East.

The only way North America suffers in the oncoming debacle is if we involve ourselves were we shouldn’t.

Daniel P
Daniel P
6 months ago

His reading is about the same as my own.
Top that off with the following…
There is a major shortage of people willing to serve in the US militaryThe amount of waste in military spending is astronomical
I also think that the Chinese have been planning this weakness for a long time.
Fentenyl is produced in China in vast amounts, and it then shipped to the US via Mexico. That crap is killing us.

They have been buying and spying on our universities and colleges for decades now. Personally, I think a lot of the radicalization of colleges is attributable to foreign money, China being the largest player.

They have been buying up our politicians too, directly and indirectly.

This crap did not happen by chance.

But, I will say this, for as much as the rest of the world seems to cheer on the end of of US hegemony, they will miss it. The Pax Americana has kept the lid on a lot of conflicts that are going to now break free and a lot of people are going to suffer for it.

And, inevitably, there is always another Hegemon on the horizon. Will one headed by China or Russia be better for all these countries that complain about the US? I doubt it. Countries complain about the cost of the export of US culture and US corporations and the military. Well, someone else is going to do the same thing. Are they ready for that? I doubt it. How will Chinese style economics, mercantilism, and governance sit with these same people?

Power abhors a vacuum and it will be filled.

Bernard Brothman
Bernard Brothman
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Add in the obscene amount of US debt, in actually dollars and as a percent of GDP. We have delayed reckoning rather than delayed gratification that earlier generations were willing to stomach.
I would like to save this article and review it on 2 January 2025 to see how close the predictions came.

can't buy my vote
can't buy my vote
6 months ago

“Heading towards what looks like an inevitable political defeat in 2024, the Biden administration is already drained of political authority, as tired and absent-minded as the gerontocrat at its helm.”
Let us pray.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
6 months ago

The article – probably unwittingly – suggests that it is democracy as a system that is the West’s weakness, because democracy prevents long-term planning. Such a suggestion is pernicious and wrong, for two reasons:
First of all, it is a truism that empire is not compatible with democracy. As both the US and Israel are finding out, you cannot sustainably be a democracy inward and an imperially-acting power outward.
Secondly, democracy is very well suited for long-term thinking; members of parliament tend to have long careers, and in all democratic systems, power legally resides with the legislature, not with the executive.
It is politics, not democracy, that is the problem, very evidently in the US, where rational politics is only possible in odd years, and medium-term politics only the first year of a presidential term. But it affects most Western democracies. It is here that voters need to take back power and elect parliamentarians who will live democracy, not surrender to the executive.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
6 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

That’s an astute observation.
Democracy clearly works, as seen in the US, Japan post WW2 and Europe.
However, the US bloc has some everything possible to undermine democracy abroad, or even relatively secular dictators like Saddam and Gaddafi who were much better than the alternative.

Russia is a case study. Ideally, the West should have worked to strengthen the country post 1991. However, they happily collaborated with criminals looting the country, which meant that democracy is a bad joke for their people, and Putin looks much better in comparison.

El Uro
El Uro
6 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Putin himself was that criminal, so he can’t be better than himself

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
6 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

Perhaps democracy has become merely a feedback loop between ineffectual leaders, the media, and a febrile public … all governed by the polls. A vast virtual Roman circus. I used to be a market research manager close to much of this. That research was deployed even overseas in aid of regime changes. It was the science of propaganda that informed Mein Kampf. “The polls* is not just some shallow cliche, but a shallow way of governing superpowers.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago

I’m not sure about an old-style world war, but it’s not hard to see a series of internal conflicts, some of which could become regional. Across the West, the masses are rebelling because they find their political masters to be revolting. In the US, our border is being overrun and cities are awash in crime while a doddering old man warns of a coming orange menace. He warns against authoritarianism while engaging in it with no sense of either irony or self-awareness. And half the country is with him.
You folks across the ocean face a similar, but more advanced, problem with years of unchecked immigration, which is doing exactly what all the “racists and xenophobes” said it would do.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
6 months ago

I don’t buy this at all. US power remains immense, and well outstrips any previous “empire”. It makes the difference in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the South China sea, all at the same time. No other nation is close to that capability.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
6 months ago

‘Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on…’

Leonard Cohen, Democracy

martin cole
martin cole
6 months ago

Journalistic hyperbole is not confined to the mainstream media it would seem. This relentlessly gloomy assessment is based on so many variables falling into line. The prediction game is really wishful thinking. I can’t shake the feeling that the author of this piece can’t wait for all this to happen in the way he describes. I expect he will be disappointed.

David Walters
David Walters
6 months ago

Well the only thing you can predict about the future with any certainty is that you can’t predict it

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  David Walters

Actually it is pretty easy for the well informed to predict the likely future – it is the time table which is impossible. I think the writer is too cautious though.

Anthony Havens
Anthony Havens
6 months ago
Reply to  David Walters

“I never prophesy, especially about the future”. Sam Goldwyn

Jeff Watkins
Jeff Watkins
6 months ago

” The USA has been at war continually since its founding in 1776 except for 18 years Washington seems to like war” Jim Rogers. Has much changed?

El Uro
El Uro
6 months ago

«…Netanyahu’s punitive war on Gaza
…Israel appears to be straining at the leash to extend its full-scale war across its northern frontier»
The author once again convinced me that a Greek cannot help but be an anti-Semite, and a Greek reporter simply must be one.
I usually avoid comments of such kind, but sorry, Aris, if you use such arguments, I’ll be not surprised few months later to hear from you that 10/07 was Israeli inside job.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

So, what is the end goal of the flattening of Gaza, and now even more parts of it?

Is it possible it is the Stated goal of a large side of the government to get rid of the Palestinians there all together? Get them gone?

If not, then what is the end goal. I think this needs to be found out, and then it makes the question you asked more useful.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
6 months ago

I see little indications they are trying to flatten Gaza. Gaza is the ultimate welfare state totally 100 percent dependent on foreign aid.

Anthony Havens
Anthony Havens
6 months ago

Israel is hoping that the usual leftist luvvies in the West will want to take the Gazan’s in as refugees. Expect Sadist Khan to get the ball rolling.
Thats my prediction for 2024.

Dave R
Dave R
6 months ago
Reply to  Anthony Havens

Free tuition at Hah-vud?

Mister Smith
Mister Smith
6 months ago

The author forgot to add a potential fourth front. Invasion of South Korea by the North.

Mark epperson
Mark epperson
6 months ago

What a load of wusses. 2024 could be the year we start cleaning up the mess that 25 years of “elite” BS has caused. It won’t be pretty, it will be really hard and innocents will continue to suffer and die, but that is happening anyway. The economy probably will tank big time and the people can start cleaning house throughout the West. It is either that or continue the slow rot and unneeded suffering that the world is experiencing.

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
6 months ago
Reply to  Mark epperson

I wish I could, but I cannot imagine any scenario in which that happens, because more than 50% of people still believe what they read or watch in the media and those puppets will never admit culpability.
Citizens must take back the global media from its Machiavellian paymasters, maybe one oligarch at a time. If it happened to Musk it can happen to another one. Absent a truthful media, there is no chance of a civil renaissance.

Doug Israel
Doug Israel
6 months ago

Punitive war on Gaza??? Israel is conducting a defensive war to prevent a bestial monstrosity from threatening its citizens with murder. How dare you.

JP Martin
JP Martin
6 months ago
Reply to  Doug Israel

The opposite of a “punitive war on Gaza” would be allowing Gazans to slaughter, rape and kidnap with impunity. Yet another example of an otherwise intelligent person becoming very stupid when Israel is involved.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
6 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

I would suggest you are incorrect. This is a punitive war on Hamas.

JP Martin
JP Martin
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

That distinction has become rather hard to sustain. Hamas has a very high level of support among the population of Gaza. The most recent poll showed roughly 2/3 respondents in Gaza and 4/5 in the West Bank believe Hamas was correct to launch the October attacks. Video evidence shows ordinary citizens in Gaza participating in those attacks and the released hostages have given testimony that they were kept in private homes.

Burke S.
Burke S.
6 months ago
Reply to  Doug Israel

You have to forgive him.

Westerners have forgotten what it takes to win wars.

That’s why they don’t anymore.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
6 months ago

Illuminating in readers’ comments attached to media essays here and everywhere is an unquestioning vision of international relations as a military contest. A glee in touting the relative military-economic power of democratic states. The original rationale of democracy was its capacity for peace through commerce. Here today we see the tyrant democracy conquered replaced by a Leviathan comprised of one world mind, not as envisioned by HG Wells, but the same primitive human mind, writ large. An aggregate tyrant. And this is how our precious democracy arrived at 2024, becoming the dragon it fought.

Max Price
Max Price
6 months ago

Yes, American allies should have doubled their military budgets years ago. Short term planning indeed.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
6 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Why pay less, when you can pay il prezzo finale? Max price indeed.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
6 months ago

Biden is weak and foolish. America must stand resolutely by Israel until Gaza and Hamas are fully crushed. If it fails, the Middle East will just disintegrate Svthe demons are let loose. It must stop its pathetic appeasement of the mad vile mullahs in Iran and turn up the pressure on that sick regime. In Europe it must switch Ukraine from its current overvambitious offensive military strategy to one of deep secure defence so that Russia pays in blood for any renewed aggression. This will permit a better peace one day. But right now it must ensure the IDF can win a multi front war with Iranian proxies and hit the oppressive medieval Terror backing Tehran regime hard with renewed sanctions and more.

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
6 months ago

Strange to link to a piece about inflation in Russia to highlight it’s “booming” economy. Can’t be bothered reading the rest. I’ve read nothing by the author I’ve found even slightly compelling.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
6 months ago

Very acute on imperial overreach. Good to see writers acknowledging the unspoken reality of a transition from republic to empire. Those wanting to use New World power to settle their Old War scores, or in the martial world, of course applaud it, decrying anything less as “isolationism.”

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
6 months ago

W.C. Fields’ may not have joked that he would like his epitaph to be “I’d rather be here than in Philadelphia”, but Aris Roussinos could surely have “Things could always be worse” as his epitaph. His steady diet of declinism, pessimism, and defeatism may owe to his dyspeptic temperament, and one could concede that circumstances often seem to warrant such a perspective. After all, even people who tend to see the glass as half full will admit that the glass as half empty is at least technically correct. And, of course, there is never any shortage of things to be negative about.
Fine, he can have his gloom and doom. But it is his repetitive snideness with regard to America that rankles. By what definition of empire is America an empire? I think he is confusing influence with control. He slings around phrases like ‘the imperium’, and ‘the unipolar imperium’, and’ the hegemon’, and ‘the superpower’ as if they were epithets, which is exactly how he means them to be taken. Sure, America has often acted ham-fistedly ( Vietnam, Iraq, Granada(!) ), “going abroad in search of dragons to slay”, but net of all of that, it has for a hundred years or so been the guarantor of all the West ought to hold dear. So even if one agrees with him on, say, the course of the Russo-Ukraine war, this sly cattiness is off-putting.
Roussinos is to the subject of America, and the West more generally, as Thomas Fazi is to capitalism. But, hey, Unherd wants to be a big tent…right?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago

It’s important to distinguish short term and long term. In the short term, and what is a single year if not the definition of ‘short-term’, things look very very bad for the US. Yet, things have looked bad before. Things looked bad in 1861, 1876, and 1932, to say nothing of how nearly the US came to being defeated before it ever existed. This will undoubtedly be a very bad year for the US.
One thing is clear. The US cannot sustain it’s global empire alone, nor can it enforce a ‘rules based order’ for everyone. That time is past. The author has this right, but in his haste to pronounce the doom of the US, he neglects to soberly consider what comes next.

The US may be failing, but nobody else, not even China, is in a position to replace it as a global hegemon. China, for all its vaunted manufacturing, faces a looming demographic crisis far worse than almost any other nation, they lack a blue water Navy to project their power far beyond their shores, and they remain energy dependent on Russia and the Middle East to a far greater degree than the US. Russia faces the same problems of geography and lack of infrastructure that they faced last century or the several before. They are formidable but slow, rich in resources but not particularly efficient in using or transporting them. If they win the war in Ukraine, it will be the same way they won every other war they’ve won for three centuries, by simply outlasting their opponents in an expensive and wasteful war of attrition, paying a huge cost in blood and treasure. A theoretical alliance of Russia and China would have considerable synergy, but it would take a lot of transportation infrastructure to realize these synergies. The gap between the theoretical and the actual is wide, and there is no guarantee the current warm feelings between these nations which have often been foes will last or survive the chaos of regime change under autocratic systems.

Given that nobody is capable of enforcing global hegemony, it follows that globalism as such is finished. What is likely to replace it is renewed nationalism, alliances that combine economic synergies, political compatibility, and military strategic need. The world of 2030 is likely to resemble that of 1900 or even 1800 more than 2015. It will be marked by overt nationalism. There will be no unconditional grants of safety on the seas, and that will force nations to build alliances to do so. The US will be the center of one and China/Russia another. I don’t anticipate the EU will survive, and the states that compose it will fall into the orbit of one or another of the other alliances. In the longer term, we’re all going to be worse off, but maybe that’s not so bad. Adversity builds character. The US is well positioned to do as well as any in the new normal.
As much as it feels good to kick the big dog when it seems to be down, the author seems too eager to pronounce the death of the American Empire. There will still be one, it just won’t be global and it won’t be nearly as benevolent, because America’s resource and economic base remains stronger than most, with better demographics and relative energy independence. The only country able to defeat the US is the US. The US is its own worst enemy, and if it is going to be destroyed, we’ll do it to ourselves, as we very nearly did in 1861. Still, none of the differences today are as irreconcilable as slavery. I can’t see a civil war being sustained over cancel culture and whether to ban abortions after 15 weeks or 20 weeks. There will be a lot of court battles and a lot of baby splitting and the federal government will be forced one way or another to simply allow states to formulate some of their own policy on thorny issues, making the US more like the present EU or the antebellum US than what it was from 1865-2016. Once those difficulties are resolved, however imperfectly, what emerges is very likely to be a more nationalistic, more pragmatic America. Americans still won’t agree on much (never have actually) but they’ll have given up trying to convince the other side and set some boundaries instead. We just started 2024 in America. Let’s hope there’s still one in 2025, as I think the world would still be more stable with the US than without it, even if it isn’t the idealistic global hegemon.

Damian Grant
Damian Grant
6 months ago

What a thoroughly depressing article to read, the first week of a new year.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
6 months ago

Us foreign policy has been insanely self-destructive for the last 30 years, with a brief and only partial pause of sanity under Trump. We have
–reduced ourselves to deep indebtedness and industrial weakness while strengthening a resurgent China;
–provoked and engaged in unnecessary and counterproductive fights that have drained our resources and confidence (Iraq, Afghanistan), and
— inter alia, driven Russia toward its traditional rivals and antagonists China and Iran, and thereby forfeited possible Russian help, or at least acquiescence, in measures to constrain those two powers and even move toward a Middle East settlement;
–destroyed a Libyan regime that for all its faults was helping Europe deal with its immigration problem and had renounced nuclear arms, and put a failed state in its place, a few miles from Italy;
–sat by and pledged undying support as Israel slipped from being a sane country in a difficult position to one whose government is dominated by, frankly, lunatics (I am Jewish and it pains me to write that, but it is true);
–antagonized Saudi Arabia after the Trump-backed Abraham Accords held out the possibility of a real consolidation of US, Israeli, and Gulf Arab interests to stand against Iran, a relationship that would have been invaluable in light of current circumstances;
–bankrolled the Iran government, our sworn enemy, helping fund their aggression in Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, while not giving even moral support to liberal elements in that country;
–and while doing all that, we have purposefully shrunk and weakened our defense industry that we need to support everything else, and to protect our interests when threats become real.
I used to think no country could screw up a strong international hand as badly as Germany did under Wilhelm II, but the US over the last 30 years makes Wilhelmine Germany look Bismarckian.

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
6 months ago

Prognostication has always been a mug’s game, every step into the future being a step into the unknown. The solution? For an America-resenter, how about a wet-dream, wish-fulfilment fantasy? Take an extra belt of New Year’s cheer and let it all hang out. “Like an ailing mammoth, weakened by a succession of individual spear thrusts, the hegemon staggers bleeding across the global scene”–that’s the spirit (or spirits)! One can almost see the prognosticator–who’s been nursing his grievances and waiting for this release for years–grinning in his sleep, giddily brandishing his spear alongside fellow spearmen, Putin and Xi.
 
What happens, though, when the mammoth rouses itself, or when fellow NATO mammoths become agitated enough to weigh in? In the cold light of day do the spearmen look so mighty, or do they have some limitations–some “ailments”–of their own? Might the fantasy need some revision? Oh, well… the prognosticator’s a bit too hung over for that. Might as well just mail it in.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
6 months ago

The Strategists of The West and NATO
were so foolish and naive to say the least with regards Ukraine
Why because the 1st rule of conflict
Is to Know thy foe ( and understand your self )

This was completely ignored by

1. Old Habits die Hard and one only had to look at WW2 at the last great offensive mounted by the Nazis at Krusk
Whereby a huge panzer blitzkrieg pincer movement was deployed to cut off a whole Russian army by moving in from North and South to isolate them
But little did the Nazi’s know how quickly
Russia had learned from their colossal defeats upon the launch of Operation Barbarossa

In particular the German Blitzkrieg from the North very quickly ran into formidable defensive lines of a very complex nature
Germany lost so many Panzers that were now impossible to replace in numbers
But Russia most certainly could not only
Replenish its own resources but on a continually growing upward curve

This battle sealed Germanies ultimate fate

And not one in the West took this simplest of lessons into consideration
Despite such staring it the face

I

El Uro
El Uro
6 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Kursk, buddy, Kursk. And you removed lend-lease from the equation.
This makes your opinion unconvincing

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
6 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

I only require Afghanistan, Iraq , Syria,
Vietnam, Libya , Laos, Cambodia and Ukraine that will end as all the latter ended
To formulate my views
Wonder why I mention Laos I hear you ask
Go research and explain how the hell
A non combanted to this day suffers
From USA cluster bombing

And all you seem to care about is a minor spelling mistake
Little wonder USA and it’s partners in crime are entering the terminal phase of their demise

El Uro
El Uro
6 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

USA and it’s partners in crime
I understood. You don’t have to continue 🙂

Steve Houseman
Steve Houseman
6 months ago

As always the comments are every bit as interesting as the article. Actually this time, the comments perhaps even more. An enjoyable couple of hours. Keep it up Aris, unherd and all.

Hit
Hit
6 months ago

I wouldn’t say Biden’s win is inevitable. I know my liberal family isn’t changing their vote anytime soon.

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
6 months ago

All these problems can be traced to the rigged 2020 American election. Had Trump not been usurped, the world would be a far more peaceful place backed by a resurgent USA. The incompetence and corruption of the usurpers has been laid bare and the only question is how far will they go to hold power? If arresting their political opponents proves insufficient, what then? Arresting the Supreme Court? Assassination? Martial law? The United States scarcely resembles a democracy anymore. It’s a tyranny of the corrupt and incompetent. It’s not democracy that has weakened the United States, it’s the end of democracy.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago

The article feels like it was written by an AI bot.

Chris Reardon
Chris Reardon
6 months ago