It’s Not Just Ukraine and Gaza: War Is on the Rise Everywhere – by Max Hastings (Bloomberg News – December 10, 2023)

An authoritative new study finds there are 183 regional and local conflicts underway in 2023, the highest number in three decades.

“It’ll all be over by Christmas” has become one of the most derided prophesies in history. It was made by wiseacres in London, Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg and elsewhere in Europe as the First World War exploded in August 1914. These misguided optimists founded their projection on recent experience: Europe had suffered no long, big conflicts since the fall of Napoleon a century earlier.

Yet as everybody knows today, far from being over before Santa Claus called, the terrible struggle that began with Austria’s invasion of Serbia lasted four years and killed around 20 million people before the 1918 armistice.

This week, the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London published the latest edition of its authoritative annual Armed Conflict Survey, and it’s not predicting much peace for the holidays. It paints a grim picture of rising violence in in many regions, of wars chronically resistant to broking of peace. The survey — which addresses regional conflicts rather than the superpower confrontation between China, Russia, the US and its allies — documents 183 conflicts for 2023, the highest number in three decades.

It highlights “intractability as the defining feature of the contemporary global conflict landscape.” Nonstate armed groups, of which Hamas in Gaza is only the most immediately conspicuous, play a baleful role. In many places these forces are supported by disruptive major powers, notably Russia and Iran.

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