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A Prediction of 2024: War and the World

In the dawn of 2024, the world stands at the crossroads of conflict and consequence. As we peer into the global theater, where regional disputes unfold like intricate dramas, questions linger. Will the echoes of the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine conflicts find resolution this year? What factors sway the tides of war? Are we on the brink of unforeseen clashes?

I. Current Global Conflict Situation:

According to ICG (International Crisis Group)'s latest crisis watch, until November 2023,  there are 79 conflicts recorded in the world, 6 of which are high-risk.

As we have an overview of ongoing regional conflicts worldwide, let’s shift focus to two pivotal theaters— the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas conflicts. These arenas not only encapsulate geopolitical intricacies but also serve as crucibles for the broader examination of conflict dynamics. The lingering question arises: Can these volatile situations find resolution in the coming year? To discern the potential outcomes, we must navigate the complex web of factors influencing the tides of war.

                                                                        source: https://www.crisisgroup.org/crisiswatch


II. Factors Influencing conflicts:

Twenty-five hundred years ago, Sun Wu wrote a classic book of military strategy based on Chinese warfare and military thought: “The Art of War”, it illuminated the foundational principles and framework of military theory. this seminal work defines and elucidates Five factors governing the outcome of warfare: Dao (道), Tian (天), Di (地), Jiang (将), and Fa (法), each representing a critical facet in military campaigns.  In the context of contemporary military theory, the Five Factors take on renewed significance. We draw the table below to illustrate and compare these factors in the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine as well as Israel and Palestine.

 

contemporary significanceRussia- UkraineIsrael-Hamas
Dao (道)The Way, embodies ethical and moral support. National and International.
The voting pattern of the recent UN General Assembly resolution regarding the respective situation gave a glimpse of the international support that both sides of the conflict enjoy. 
On February 23, 2023, the 11th Emergency Special Session of the United Nations adopted a resolution called for ending the war in Ukraine and demanded Russia’s immediate withdrawal from the country.

Voting breakdown:141 member states voted in favor;7 countries, namely Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua, Russia, and Syria, cast dissenting votes;32 countries, including China, India, Pakistan, and Cuba, abstained.

On December 22, 2023, The Security Council has adopted a resolution on the ongoing crisis in Gaza,demands immediate, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale directly to the Palestinian civilian population throughout the Gaza Strip. 
It also aimed to create conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities. The resolution reiterated a steadfast commitment to the conceptual framework of a two-state solution, emphasizing the coexistence of Israel and Palestine as democratic nations within secure and internationally recognized boundaries, in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. Additionally, it underscored the imperative of unifying the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the authority of the Palestinian Authority.

Voting breakdown:13 votes in favor;0 votes against;2 abstentions

Tian (天)The timing, aligns with the modern understanding of leveraging natural conditions and climate.The Crimean Peninsula, situated in an arid region, is home to a population of two million people. Historically, the island's freshwater supply has been dependent on an artificial canal dug during the Soviet era within Ukraine's territory. Since 2014, Ukraine has severed the canal, thereby interrupting 85% of Crimea's potable water supply. In recent years, drought induced by climate change has exacerbated the situation, leading to reduced agricultural yields, population displacement, and economic setbacks. The combination of Crimea's oil wealth and water scarcity creates a challenging environment that may contribute to the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.Gaza and the West Bank, situated in arid climates, face water scarcity, relying on wells for agricultural irrigation. The shortage of freshwater, exacerbated by conflicts, has intensified the humanitarian disaster and garnered increasing international attention.

Di (地)The terrain and battlefield environment, Geopolitics is also in its scope.The Russo-Ukrainian front stretches for a thousand kilometers, covering an expansive land area exceeding 100,000 square kilometers. The vast plains between Russia and Ukraine provide an ideal terrain for ground warfare, offering convenience in terms of manpower, logistical support, and weapon transportation.
Ukraine holds significant geopolitical importance, situated at the crossroads of European and post-Soviet geopolitics, particularly to Russia. One could assert that Ukraine occupies a pivotal position at the heart of European geopolitical dynamics.
Gaza and the West Bank collectively occupy approximately 6,000 square kilometers of land. However, being situated in the Middle East, the spillover effects of conflicts are highly evident. Presently, involved armed forces extend to include groups like the Houthi militia and Iran, with potential implications for countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon, among others.
The spillover events also have repercussions on the global supply chain.
Jiang (将)the commander, encapsulates the role of leadership, commanders, influenced decision-makers.

In 2024, numerous countries and regions  are experiencing election years, with the elected leaders, particularly the President of the United States, holding significant influence over the situations in Russia-Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On the Russian front, it is predicted that Putin will be re-elected.
If Ukraine manages to conduct elections and Zelensky is not re-elected, there is a likelihood that Ukraine may lean towards initiating negotiations for an early end to the conflict, aligning with the interests of multiple stakeholders.
Possible scenarios for the United States in 2024 include:

1. Biden is re-elected, the U.S. is likely to continue supporting Ukraine while maintaining its support for Israel.
2. Trump is re-elected, following his current policy outlines, there might be a focus on ending the Russia-Ukraine war and strongly supporting Israel.
3. DeSantis is elected, given his perspective that the Russia-Ukraine conflict is not a core U.S. interest and drawing from his Middle East experience, he may prioritize supporting Israel's actions in the region.

In conclusion, regardless of the next U.S. president, strong support for Israel is anticipated. Under this support, the conflict and ceasefire cycles between Israel and Palestine may persist. However, given the irreconcilable differences between Israel and Palestine, the duration of the conflict might exceed expectations.

Fa (法)the laws and regulations, encompasses the organizational structure, discipline, tactics, and weaponry deployed by armed forces.Russia and Ukraine already have significant differences in personnel reserves. In terms of weaponry, Ukraine relies heavily on aid. In the past year, the United States has supplied Ukraine with 1600 Javelin single-man portable anti-aircraft missiles and 8500 Stinger single-man portable anti-tank missiles. According to U.S. arms dealers, this is equivalent to 13 years of production for Javelin and 5 years for Stinger.

Economically, there has been a noticeable slowdown in assistance from the Biden administration and the European Union in recent times. As of now, Putin has occupied parts of eastern Ukraine, but Ukraine lacks the capability for a counteroffensive. The ability to resist further Russian aggression remains uncertain in the future, especially if strong support from the U.S. and Western allies cannot be sustained.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) “Military Balance 2023,” Israel has 169,500 active-duty military personnel across its army, navy, and quasi-military forces. Additionally, there are 465,000 reservists and 8,000 in quasi-military forces. The air force possesses 339 combat aircraft and 142 helicopters, while the army has 2,200 tanks and 530 artillery pieces. The navy includes 5 submarines. In the ongoing conflict, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Commander, Hossein Salami, confirmed that about 300 out of approximately 1,600 Israeli tanks and armored vehicles deployed have suffered battle damage over the past two months.

In the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the U.S., while supplying weapons to Ukraine, faces the challenge of depleting its owncontinues weapon reserves. A U.S. Department of Defense official noted in August,2023 that the inventory of 155mm combat ammunition was at an “alarming” level. Currently, Israel and Ukraine request different types of weapons, providing a degree of assurance for Israel's weapon support. However, as the conflict continues, Israel gradually encounters weapon shortages. The intermittent ceasefires by Israel are partly due to international pressure and also serve as a strategic pause to replenish its weapon supplies.

It is crucial to note that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, and some regions in the Middle East have nuclear capabilities, posing a significant risk of escalation in the conflict.

The commonality between the Russo-Ukrainian and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts lies in the nearly irreconcilable nature of their conflicting demands. Both Russia and Ukraine have non-negotiable stances regarding Ukraine's NATO accession and the territorial sovereignty of eastern Ukraine. Similarly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict revolves around the goal of eliminating each other's forces and gaining full control over the Gaza Strip. Resolving these conflicts necessitates compromises from the supporting powers behind them, and both Ukraine and Israel receive backing from the United States.

Recent unforeseen events have highlighted the increasing influence of incumbent leaders, indicating that even though the Russo-Ukrainian conflict may have more objective conditions for a prolonged engagement in terms of scale and power balance, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the chaotic order in the Middle East might persist for a more extended period. Particularly, with Israel having predominantly U.S. support and considering the recent withdrawal of U.S. and EU forces from Afghanistan, it becomes challenging for the U.S. to execute a strategy of “winning two wars simultaneously” – rapidly concluding one conflict while concentrating efforts on supporting another. Moreover, if large-scale conflicts erupt in other parts of the world, it could further disadvantage Ukraine in terms of time.

It comes to the next question:


III. Any possible New Conflicts or Wars in 2024:

Apart from the escalating spillover of conflicts in the Middle East; the tense situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is susceptible to deterioration at any time as the election cycle unfolds; there are also signs of deterioration in inter-Korean relations:  From December 26 to 30, the Workers' Party of Korea held its 9th Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee. During this meeting, North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, explicitly characterized inter-Korean relations as “hostile” and declared a shift in policy direction towards South Korea.  On January 4, 2024, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense announced the conclusion of a 7-day joint New Year exercise between South Korea and the United States. On January 5, North Korean forces fired over 200 artillery shells in the western waters of the Korean Peninsula.


IV.  An anticipation:

Returning to the initial question: Will the two ongoing major conflicts, Russo-Ukrainian and Israeli-Hamas, come to an end in 2024?

We anticipate that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to persist in a cycle of fighting, ceasefire, and renewed hostilities throughout 2024, accompanied by international efforts to prevent the spillover effects of this war. On the other hand, the Russo-Ukrainian conflict is more likely to initiate negotiations to achieve a ceasefire. However, negotiations are just the beginning of the end.

source: https://liveuamap.com/cn

V. Impact on Trade:

Beyond these geopolitical intricacies, the global landscape braces for the impact on trade dynamics. As the specter of war looms, disruptions in regional stability and shifting alliances carry profound implications for worldwide trade patterns and economic interdependence. In this delicate dance of conflict, the reverberations are not confined to the immediate battlegrounds but resonate across the interconnected web of global commerce.

  • Infrastructure Damage: The prospect of increased infrastructure damage in conflict zones raises concerns about trade disruptions. The vulnerabilities of critical transportation and logistics hubs may result in prolonged downtime, affecting the flow of goods and services.  For instance, the destruction of the Crimea Bridge and the Nord Stream pipeline during the Russo-Ukrainian war has spurred the development and construction of new routes and markets.  This warrants a critical examination of the resilience of trade routes and the potential long-term impact on global supply chains.

  • Regional Economic Dynamics: Post-conflict, regional economic dynamics undergo a transformative phase. The exploration of regional cooperation or consolidation becomes crucial. Emerging from conflicts, regions may either forge closer economic ties for stability or witness a consolidation of industries among major players, reshaping the economic landscape.

  • Industry Consolidation: The analysis of industry responses to conflicts reveals a trend toward consolidation around key players with stable resilience. As companies seek security and sustainability, strategic alliances and mergers become prominent.

  • Evaluation of Increased Costs: As conflicts unfold, the evaluation of potential increased costs becomes imperative. Logistics expenses surge due to disrupted supply chains, legal complexities arise in navigating sanctions, and pursuing stability incurs hidden costs. Businesses are increasingly seeking a balance between efficiency and stability.



In the words of Albert Einstein, 'Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.' Similarly, in the ever-changing currents of existence, wise choices and authentic actions help us navigate the unpredictable journey.


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