Whither the World in 2024?
Hot on the heels of several years of global turbulence comes 2024.
This New Year brings an interesting cocktail of geo-political and geo-economic possibilities – perhaps as intriguing and potentially threatening to stability and progress as anything we have seen in recent decades.
The Russian-inspired war over Ukrainian sovereignty is in deadlock, with neither side able to generate the momentum for decisive military manoeuvre; meanwhile the toll on civil communities and infrastructure is immense. Western political and popular indifference to the outcome, seen through our reluctance to fund the Ukrainian armed forces with battle-winning capabilities, ammunition and logistic support, is fast becoming a decisive factor. Is this heralding the culmination of Western hegemony? Have we become too weighed-down by decadence and complacency to play our traditional roles in the world order for much longer? Or is this merely a blip in political leadership, pending the resumption of normal service?
The Israeli response to the grotesque Hamas atrocities of October 7th looks increasingly brutal and clunky, with no discernible political plan for the outcome for the Palestinians, and hence no prospect of stability returning to the region. Even if the IDF were to succeed in its goal of writing-down Hamas would it not be tantamount to a Pyrrhic victory? Is war with Iran, the probable sponsors of this crisis, and some wider aggressions in the region now a possibility?
Alongside these significant regional crises we have the ‘Year of the Vote’ – with 70 nations, comprised collectively of some 49% of the global population, engaging in the election of new political leaders and their ruling parties. Six of the 10 most populous nations in the world are on this list: India, USA, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Mexico. Others include Taiwan, South Africa, United Kingdom, the European Union and Ghana. Is this the heyday of democracy, or will its true frailties be cruelly exposed, not least in the embittered contest between Biden and Trump for the leadership of USA and the ‘Western world.’
In this mix of challenges we haven’t even mentioned China; and we can be sure they will be watching this situation very closely with a view to turning it to their advantage.
We have already seen the supply chain fragility and oil price rises stimulated by the Ukraine conflict; what further economic and business impacts will 2024 bring from these unpredictable situations?