“Conflict in the Middle East is bad news for liberals and helpful for Putin and Trump,” writes ‘The Financial Times’. They are very nervous in London…
In the US, Joe Biden’s presidency is in deep trouble. Donald Trump is now the favourite in the betting markets to win the presidency in 2024. Recent polls show him comfortably ahead in most of the swing states that will decide the election.
All of these malign developments contribute to a darkening global political mood. They also feed on each other directly.
The Gaza war has forced the US to divert time and resources away from Ukraine. In some cases, there is direct competition for munitions. Ukraine has been desperately short of shells and now is competing with Israel for scarce supplies. Air defence systems are also needed by both Ukraine and Israel.
The west’s already weak ability to rally global support for Ukraine is further damaged by anger in the “Global South” about US support for Israel.
These developments came at a time when the Ukrainian war effort was already faltering. The Kyiv government’s counteroffensive has largely failed.
Ukraine remains heavily dependent on the west for armaments and financial support. But Kyiv’s western backers have failed to ramp up their weapons production to match the Russian war machine. Meanwhile, continued funding for Ukraine has got stuck in the US Congress as Trump-supporting Republicans turn against the war.
A Trump victory has become more likely because of the Gaza conflict. Biden needs young voters, progressives and Arab-Americans to turn out and vote for him. But many are furious about his administration’s support for Israel. If progressives stay at home or vote for fringe candidates, the election could tip towards Trump.
Of course, it would be absurd if pro-Palestinian sentiment indirectly put Trump back into the White House. The former president is once again threatening to ban Muslims from entering the US. But history abounds with absurdities.
Other urgent problems are also in danger of being left to fester. Climate change looks ever more ominous. But the COP28 summit that will begin later this month in Dubai will now take place with world leaders distracted by Gaza.
It is too fatalistic to say that we are now in an era when things can only get worse. But it is simple realism to understand that the strongest trends in world affairs are malign and gathering momentum.
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