The heinous massacre of Israeli citizens by terrorist group Hamas has sparked the massive mobilization of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Understandably, Israelis seek retribution. They will not stop until Hamas is wiped out.
On a superficial level, this appears to be a tit for tat. Terrorists attacked. IDF hits back. However, there are bigger forces at play. These forces could push the world into a new world war, send America into terminal decline and trigger nuclear annihilation.
These forces could push the world into a new world war, send America into terminal decline and trigger nuclear annihilation.
The Middle East has a long history of conflict, exacerbated by external meddling. Once again, the fuse has been lit by forces seeking to change the global geopolitical order.
Until October 7th - the day of the attack - the Western world had a united, singular military focus with billions of aid and equipment going to Ukraine. Putin underestimated NATO conviction to support Ukraine, kneecapping what he expected to be a quick toppling of Ukraine leadership. Instead, the war has cost Putin greatly - financially, militarily and politically.
Ukraine is an existential crisis for Russia, Putin believes. If Russia loses the war it started it risks Ukraine joining NATO. This places its enemy at its doorstep, and jeopardizes Russia's geopolitical position. Ukraine is important because it provides geographic advantages and contains vast resources.
Russia's Black Sea fleet is stationed in Crimea, which was part of Ukraine until Russia's controversial annexation in 2014. The Black Sea is strategically important for Russia's naval power projection, and control of Crimea and access to the Black Sea is a key strategic interest for Russia.
Ukraine was also historically a part of the Soviet Union and has a substantial military and industrial infrastructure. The loss of Ukraine to the West, as seen by Russia, weakens its influence and poses security concerns. Russia's military involvement in Eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea were driven in part by these security considerations.
Today, Ukraine's survival depends on support from the West. Putin recently stated:
“By and large, the Ukrainian economy cannot exist without external support. Once you stop this, everything will be over in a week. Finished. The same applies to the defense system: Imagine that supplies will stop tomorrow — you will only have a week to live when the ammunition runs out.”
The New Global War
What better way to undermine Western support for Ukraine than to open up a new front in what is increasingly looking like a global war.
I speculate that Russia and Iran conspired to provide Hamas the support needed to pull off the October 7th attack, which was sophisticated and multi-layered. I also suspect that Hezbollah is primed and ready to join the fight when the call comes. Hamas and Hezbollah want Israel wiped off the map - a goal shared by Iran. By feeding them weapons and intelligence, Russia and Iran have created a second proxy war with the West. Iran weakens its enemy and Russia dilutes Western focus on supporting Ukraine.
The United States has given Israel more aid than any other nation since World War II, providing over $260 billion. Israel is a critical beachhead for Western power-projection into the geopolitically important Middle East and support from the US and other NATO members is unwavering. Just as Western support for Ukraine is unwavering.
The United States and its allies can provide aid to both Ukraine and Israel, but not without sacrifice. Western allies recently stated they are running out of ammunition. Capacity is constrained and a second front will only add more strain. If the war on both fronts drags on - which I expect is the objective - an already stretched US budget deficit will create ammo for more domestic political strife. Other allied countries will experience similar issues, with some potentially scaling back support.
Enter China and the Third Front in Global War
China may or may not be complicit with the Hamas attack on Israel. Either way, it is observing and sees an opportunity to exploit the situation even further.
Russia, China and the expanded BRICS alliance - which includes Iran and Saudi Arabia - are actively building a multi-polar world to shift the balance of global power away from the West. An overstretched US military is strategically important to this objective.
If Russia and Iran are able to adequately support Hamas and Hezbollah, a war between Israel and its enemies could become another extended quagmire costing billions. Today, Americans are highly motivated to support Israel's retaliation. In six to twelve months? Maybe not. There is already increasingly vocal debate about why the West is still supporting Ukraine. This kind of talk was unheard of when Russia first invaded.
China knows a battle-weary Western public will have little appetite for a third front. This will become a do or die moment for Xi Jinping. If the West is preoccupied by war in Ukraine and Israel, how will it react if China invades Taiwan?
The Taiwan Straight is vital to the free-flow of goods to the Pacific. It is in both China and America's best interest to keep it open. Also, Taiwan is arguably less strategically important to the US than Ukraine or Israel. All-out war over Taiwan would be mutually-assured economic destruction and extremely risky for both China and America.
But knowing a tired American public will have little motivation to fully support a third front - especially one that comes with so many tangible downsides - China could exploit the opportunity to decapitate Taiwanese leadership and set up a vassal state.
Without America’s help, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimated Taiwan would be conquered by the People’s Liberation Army in three months or less.
However, if the US stands by decades of rhetoric it could overextend further, blockading the Strait and supplying military aid to Taiwan. In a full head-to-head war, Taiwan is expected to remain independent, but CSIS estimated huge American losses:
In most scenarios, the United States/Taiwan/Japan defeated a conventional amphibious invasion by China and maintained an autonomous Taiwan. However, this defense came at high cost. The United States and its allies lost dozens of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and tens of thousands of servicemembers. Taiwan saw its economy devastated. Further, the high losses damaged the U.S. global position for many years. China also lost heavily, and failure to occupy Taiwan might destabilize Chinese Communist Party rule.
The gamble for China is whether America would commit to this level of destruction while it is militarily, strategically and financially preoccupied with Ukraine and Israel. US Air Force General Michael Minihan has already predicted China will invade Taiwan in 2025, while the US is distracted by the 2024 elections. Many others have similar forecasts.
The expanding global war only increases this probability.
As the BRICs nations - and more specifically, China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia - seek greater geopolitical influence and control over their own destinies, they require a weakened America. Overextending America and its allies across multiple fronts in a global war would weaken Western military strength and impose huge financial burdens. This is exactly the kind of military and financial overreach that has ended empires and transitioned hegemony from one power to the next.
It is likely that behind closed doors this is all being carefully orchestrated by the BRICS allies. Unfortunately, no World War goes according to plan and always ends in catastrophe.
As Nikita Khrushchev once told John F Kennedy on October 26th, 1961 during the Cuban Missile Crisis:
If indeed war should break out, then it would not be in our power to stop it, for such is the logic of war. I have participated in two wars and know that war ends when it has rolled through cities and villages, everywhere sowing death and destruction.
War is unpredictable, and with multiple global powers fighting on multiple fronts chaos is inevitable. Whether this new world war turns nuclear remains to be seen. The costs of nuclear war are known but the theoretical constraint of "mutually assured destruction" first requires a nation to have something of value to destroy.
The final decision of a nuclear power threatened with existential defeat is likely total annihilation.