On Point: Six Strategic Challenges For 2024

by Austin Bay
January 5, 2024

Here's 2024's strategic challenges column -- challenges to our so-called international strategic order, meaning threats to human life and economic well-being on a continent-regional or global scale.

Take this as gospel. Order is a despicably misleading term. The post-World War II international order never managed to "order" the world in any commonsense meaning of the word. WWII ended and the Cold War emerged, with the threat of nuclear destruction imposing an order based on mutual annihilation. The Korean War erupted. In 2024 a violent armistice marks the tentative border between North and South Korea, not a definitive peace treaty.

In late 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed -- the same year Operation Desert Storm drove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait. Peace dividend? Not in the Balkans, as Yugoslavia fragmented into genocidal civil war.

Welcome to 2024. The challenges are not ranked with this caveat: Wars employing nuclear and/or biological weapons raise the body count from tens of thousands to the millions. Enhanced biological weapons could kill billions. This is not a sensationalist headline; it's a plea for sanity.

Challenge No. 1: Imperialist powers bent on recovering lost empires (and fulfilling the grandiose dreams of their current leaders.) 2023 comment: Russia in Ukraine, China threatening Taiwan. 2024 comment: Imperial Iran bent on recovering Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Persian Gulf.

The ayatollah dictatorship has Iranian imperial ambitions, based on the Iranian (Persian) empire circa 400 B.C.

Hidden from the world, or at least the Western mainstream media, is China's hideous racist dimension. Xi Jinping's propagandists believe in the racial superiority of the Han ethnic group. The Han constitute roughly 85% of China's population.

Russia, China and Iran are states with near-peer military power (possessing modern weapons) capable of challenging the U.S. and its technologically sophisticated allies. Caveat: they may not have military personnel capable of successfully employing the weapons (Russia in Ukraine being an example).

Challenge No. 2: Radical, militant, megalomaniacal dictatorships (North Korea) and terrorist organizations (the Islamic State group) attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, biological) and the ways and means to use them to kill with history-changing, lethal surprise.

Challenge No. 3: The pervasive corruption of influential but venal individuals and venal institutions in democratic nations. The corruption is so internally corrosive to these nations that timely and effective political and military response to Challenges Nos. 1 through 3 is systemically delayed, undermined or immobilized.

Challenge No. 4: Big Debt. It was No. 5 last year but it is a byproduct of No. 4's political corruption and malfeasance. 2022's hyperinflation and government budget excess justified it last year. Now the inflation is embedded in all U.S. economic action. Fact: Big Debt has become unsustainable.

Challenge No. 5: Flailing states, failed states and totally fake states immersed in anarchic violence that spills over political borders. (Note: "Flailing" means collapsing. In fake states, local thugs control the capital, the U.N. seat and little else.) 2023 comment applicable to 2024: During the past year, Mexico has been exposed as a borderline flailing state.

Challenge No. 6: America's Southern Front. In 2023, "flailing states" (states immersed in anarchic violence that spills over political borders or states unable to control their own borders) were challenge No. 2. America's southern border crisis has created a hybrid war front --California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas are a hybrid-war front line.

In fiscal year 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol apprehended 736 known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) on terror watch lists along the southern and northern U.S. borders. Fact: there were 1.7 million illegal alien gotaways. If two or three out of a 1,000 gotaways are KSTs, that's 3,000 to 5,000 violent enemies infiltrating America's home front.

Mass terror attack on the home front? To stop it takes aggressive deterrence -- by smart and courageous leaders.

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To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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