Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
January 1, 2024
On this first day of 2024, it is important to have some perspectives on what will happen in the next 364 days. Since the US is the most powerful nation in the world, whatever happens in the US has global impacts. At least we can be certain events will take place in the US, but the final results are not certain at all. It is that uncertainty creates anxiety. There is no reason to doubt that the next US general election will take place on November 5th, 2024. It is also most likely that it will be a re-match of Biden vs Trump. Unfortunately, both men are not fully embraced by a majority, means that the US domestic strength and global standing will be lowered than ever before. Of course, no Americans would like it. But if one lesson that the Americans can learn from this election is that US leaders should focus much more on the managing domestic issues than actively being, or acting as, a global leader.
Therefore, Americans, especially politicians, should focus on resolving domestic issues with a deep soul searching. Sure, certain issues of foreign affairs are closely linked to domestic policies, and they cannot be easily decoupled such as continuously funding the proxy war in Ukraine. But unless the US can reach a majority consensus on establishing our federal budget, no matter how much the Democrats push and Republicans resist, it will not be able to have sufficient and consistent support for ending the war. The same goes with the Israel-Hamas conflict, the administration must show Americans, and the world, that we lead the war because we are paying for it!
The general election process in 2024 will be unprecedently chaotic, but it is a domestic issue. The supreme court will be tasked to uphold the US constitution, which is the bedrock of US democracy. The US public must express their wishes but accept the decision: it is due process.
The US election is a domestic process, let us not waste energy and time to blame foreign interferences: we have the best technology and most powerful intelligence to protect our national security.
We need the “United” States of America to effectively manage global affairs. If we cannot keep our house in order, no one will respect us!
For the rest of the world, keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best.
What’s at stake in 2024
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN Published 12:00 AM EST, Mon January 1, 2024
America and the world could look glaringly different by January 1, 2025, depending on the outcome of a momentous crush of conflicts, pivotal global elections and geopolitical forces that will create critical moments in the year ahead.
A fateful White House race will again put democracy on the line in the United States. And Donald Trump is far from the only far-right populist having a resurgence; the movement is on the march in Europe as well. Wars in Ukraine and Gaza are at risk of sparking far wider reverberations, while economic and political stability is threatened by massive migration flows, fears of recession and the broadening impacts of climate change. On most issues, overpowered, democratic governments are struggling to show their voters they have the answers.
The world doesn’t change just because a calendar flips from one year to the next. But given the confluence of events we know that will happen this year — as well as all the unknowns, the Olympian year of 2024 could mark a watershed in the history of the 21st century.
An epochal US election
The most foreseeable global shock of 2024 would be the election of Trump, who would become only the second US president to win a non-consecutive term. The ex-president is already openly telling us that he intends to subject US democracy and the American-led global order to its greatest test.
Time is running out for Republican primary candidates to topple Trump. Unless there’s an upset in the next few weeks in Iowa and New Hampshire, the former president will be more in control of the GOP than when he left Washington in disgrace in January 2021. The country has never faced an election like it – with the likely challenger, an ex-president facing 91 criminal charges across four criminal cases, including for alleged crimes against democracy, being prosecuted by a special counsel in his successor’s administration. If Trump prevails, it will be one of the most stunning, and ominous, comebacks in political history.
If it’s against Trump, the final political campaign of President Joe Biden’s political career – which began when Richard Nixon was in the White House – will be the next battle of his self-described fight to save America’s soul. But the 81-year-old is beset by skepticism that he has the stamina and acuity to serve a full second term. High prices soured voters on his economic record despite inflation’s retreat. New global conflicts and challenges to US power weaken Biden’s claims to be a master of foreign policy. Enter your email to subscribe to the CNN Five Things Newsletter.
What happens in November could change America for good and send massive shockwaves around the world.
The Supreme Court in the spotlight
Justices will likely face the nightmare scenario of ruling on divisive issues including recent moves by Colorado and Maine to make Trump ineligible for the ballot because of the 14th Amendment’s ban on “insurrectionists.”
The court may also be called upon to adjudicate Trump’s claims that all his actions — even his attempts to thwart the result of the 2020 election — were covered by presidential immunity. Given the country’s estrangement, and Trump’s refusal to accept election results, it would be no surprise to see the court embroiled in this year’s vote in November.
More Washington chaos is guaranteed
America’s deepening struggle to govern itself will be highlighted as soon as this month, in a major showdown over immigration policy, sending assistance to Ukraine and Israel, and the basic function of funding federal operations. The drama could shut down the government and constrain the country’s ability to wield power and influence on the global stage.
A tiny Republican House majority hostage to pro-Trump extremists, which is bent on impeaching Biden and enacting massive spending cuts despite lacking a functioning mandate, will surely radicalize even further in the election year. New House Speaker Mike Johnson’s grip on power is already tenuous since he’s locked in the same governing-versus-politics dilemma that felled his predecessor Kevin McCarthy. Such is the tumult – and disgust with incumbents – that it’s quite possible that the Republican-led House and the Democratic-led Senate could flip in opposite directions this fall.
Ukraine’s fateful year
Will this be the year the West abandons Ukraine and rewards Putin for barbarism underscored by new air assaults on civilians in recent days?
Biden’s vow that the US will stick with Ukraine for “as long as it takes” has never seemed shakier. Republicans are blocking his $60 billion pledge for new military aid that Ukraine badly needs after its long-planned offensive got bogged down in bloody First World War-style combat by attrition. President Volodymyr Zelensky is adamant that Ukraine will fight on, but if the West turns away, he may face a choice between negotiating with Putin with a weak hand and prolonging a conflict that will bleed his country dry.
Putin thinks he can outwait the West to secure a victory that would send devastating signals about how America treats its friends.
The Middle East on the brink
Can the Biden administration stop the war in Gaza from spiraling into a regional conflagration? And will Israel destroy Hamas before completely shredding its own reputation abroad amid the carnage of Palestinian civilians?
These questions come at a fraught moment in the conflict triggered by the Hamas terror attacks in Israel in October. Extreme tensions are rising from the Indian Ocean, through the Red Sea and across the region, with US troops and ships in the firing line as Iranian proxy groups in Yemen, Gaza and Lebanon seek to pressure Israel and US power. While Biden has held Israel tight since the attacks, the Netanyahu government appears to be ignoring his calls for a lowering of intensity in its Gaza operations and is vowing to fight on for months. US and Israeli interests appear to be diverging quickly as the conflict causes serious political consequences for Biden back home, with young and progressive voters, especially, and Arab Americans in swing-state Michigan faulting his leadership.
Voters can change the world
Hundreds of millions of people outside the US will go to the polls this year. But paradoxically, elections across the globe could less demonstrate democracy’s robust health than its increasing peril. In January, presidential elections in Taiwan could stir new cross-Straits tensions with China. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to coast to reelection and bolster power increasingly being used to fray the world’s largest democracy. But his Hindu nationalism isn’t stopping the US from courting him as a bulwark against China.
Elections to the European parliament offer an opening to far-right, populist, anti-immigration parties in France, Germany, Belgium and elsewhere. Their success could be an omen for Trump, whose populist rise was predicted by Britain’s vote to leave the EU in 2016. Britons, however, could use an election likely this year to reject chaotic right-wing leadership and turn back to the Labour Party after 14 years in the wilderness. This would signal that incumbents everywhere are at risk — another sobering warning for Biden.
A new geopolitical reality
2024 will deepen a new global alignment. The US and its allies are facing a loose but increasingly coordinated front of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, which all have distinct interests but share the common goal of eroding US power. Various permutations of this affiliation shaped the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East and a race is underway between the West and its adversaries for influence with “global south” developing nations as China especially seeks to thwart the rules and customs of the long-established US-led global order. These shifting geopolitical plates mean every global crisis now becomes a test of US credibility and Biden’s strength — just as Republicans seek to portray him as a weak and doddering leader ahead of the 2024 election.
Will the US-China Cold War heat up again?
Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed, at a minimum, to stop dangerous tensions from getting worse in their California summit in November. But multiple pressures tear at the world’s most critical diplomatic relationship every day. China regards US efforts to balance its superpower ascent as encirclement and an illegitimate bid to subvert its rightful destiny. Hair-raising near encounters involving US and allied forces and Chinese ships and planes in the South and East China Seas could erupt into a major crisis at any time. A Chinese insistence that democratic Taiwan should be brought under mainland control poses one of the while great risks of a major new war. And China will be a huge issue in the US election, narrowing Biden’s room for maneuver Xi is under great pressure at home and has never hesitated to play an aggressive, nationalist card for political effect.
Hopes for the global economy
US stocks went on an unlikely tear last year as inflation cooled and job creation remained hot in a US economy performing more strongly than the rest of the world. If the Federal Reserve can pull off a soft landing in easing its tough interest rate medicine, Biden’s reelection prospects could soar. China is hoping for a rebound after a tough year and could also help lift global growth. But if Trump wins in November and sticks by his plan to slap a 10% tariff plan on all imports, a trade war will likely erupt that pulverizes the global free commerce system and ultimately leaves consumers far worse off.