In the cascade of epochal events that have battered the foundations of our post-Cold War world in recent years, the phrase “turning point” has become cliché.
From Putin’s snatching of Crimea in 2014 to Obama’s near-criminal Iran deal in 2015, ISIS and the Syrian butchery, Brexit and Trump, China’s rise and Hong Kong’s fall, BLM’s racial insurrection and Covid lockdowns, the Net Zero agenda and the assault on Ukraine — the past decade has had its fill of era-defining moments and systemic shocks.
And yet, to paraphrase Adam Smith, there is a great deal of ruin in a world order. That is, it takes a sustained string of costly strategic failures to shake, crack and finally overthrow a certain structure and hierarchy that had ordered power relations between the major nation-states across the globe.
Particularly after the West emerged triumphant in the early 1990s from the struggle against Communism, the systemic “margin of error” for Western strategy — the mistakes that could be afforded without imperiling the overall primacy of the US and its allies — was very wide.
But the errors have been cumulative and the global framework has been progressively weakened. We have expended our post-Cold War power-allowance. Thread after thread from the strategic rope holding the global system together has snapped at the various points mentioned. And now it’s down to the final one. We have arrived at the true tipping point for the world as we know it, beyond which initiative may be lost to the revisionist powers.
Like all such historical moments it presents itself as a combination of political events. In Europe’s case, in particular, this very week, we face two: in the Middle East and in Europe.
War in the Levant
The massacres perpetrated against Israel last weekend by Iran’s proxies, the savage Hamas animals, have thrust the entire region to the brink of general war. The Jewish State is rightly and inevitably mobilising fully for a definitive campaign to wipe out Hamas’s extended network and drain the Islamic terrorist puss from Gaza — ideally down to the last supporter and enabler of the degenerate jihadis who took part in the October 7 slaughter. Anything less would be irresponsible at this point.
But there is no hiding the fact that this necessary Israeli offensive will almost certainly trigger a cascade of terrorist and military reactions from Iran’s proxy and allied network all around Israel, particularly from Hezbollah in Lebanon and the IRGC and regime assets in Syria. A chain reaction, not dissimilar to August 1914 in Europe, is now very likely — culminating with direct Israeli-Iranian clashes and involvement by the United States, as well as probably Turkey.
Iran’s strategic ascendancy in the Middle East — enabled by US policy under Obama and Biden — and Israel’s increasingly precarious position were described in these very pages only the week before the atrocities of last Saturday. That analysis explained some of the dynamics at play, and laid out Iran’s systematic strategy to corner Israel and remove its options.
This effort was always meant to lead to the annihilation of the Jewish State, which at some point will have required an all-out conflagration. We are now there, as Iran intended — hence the inevitability of a much greater war in the coming weeks or months.
For Europe, the implications of this kind of regional escalation in the Middle East would be monumental. In the short run we can expect a domestic security implosion across the spectrum of Islamist extremism, from the “civic” mobilisation of Islamic communities in order to try to shape policy responses in Western capitals, to new waves of ISIS/Hamas style terrorist attacks.
Read the rest at Brussels Signal.
Gabriel Elefteriu is a Fellow at Yorktown Institute.