SUMMARY of the Article “A precarious world in 2024” by Maleeha Lodhi, Published on December 4th, 2023

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11 min readDec 4, 2023

Maleeha Lodhi’s analysis of the geopolitical landscape for 2024 anticipates a world marked by heightened instability, driven by escalating geopolitical tensions, global market volatility, and a multitude of crises. The wars in Gaza and Ukraine, along with the US-China confrontation, have further fragmented the international landscape, contributing to a troubled outlook. A record number of elections across the globe, including the US, adds to the uncertainty. The shift towards a more multipolar world is evident, but multilateral institutions face persistent stress. Key trends include “multipolar disorder,” as predicted by The Economist, and the onset of the “age of polycrisis,” as highlighted by the World Economic Forum. The US-China relationship remains a focal point, characterized by differences on various issues, with potential for continued turbulence. While conflicts persist, East-West tensions may intensify, particularly with the ongoing war in Ukraine. The Palestinian issue, brought to the forefront by Israel’s actions in Gaza, challenges Arab governments and major powers to seek lasting peace and security in the Middle East. In this polarized global landscape, middle powers are expected to play a more influential role, leveraging the US-China rivalry to pursue independent paths. The article also underscores the significance of numerous elections in 2024, especially the US presidential election, and raises concerns about democratic regression worldwide. The challenge of managing the disruptive effects of advanced technology, particularly in the realm of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, remains a critical issue. Despite the multitude of challenges, the world faces a shortage of both global leadership and solidarity.

Easy/Short SUMMARY:

The world in 2024 is predicted to be unstable due to escalating geopolitical tensions, global market volatility, and ongoing crises, including wars in Gaza and Ukraine. A shift towards a more multipolar world is underway, but multilateral institutions are under stress. The US-China relationship remains a key concern, and East-West tensions may intensify. The Palestinian issue gains prominence, challenging efforts for lasting peace in the Middle East. Middle powers are expected to play a more influential role amid the US-China rivalry. Numerous global elections, including the US presidential election, raise concerns about democratic regression. Managing the disruptive effects of advanced technology, especially in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, is a critical challenge. The world faces a shortage of both global leadership and solidarity.

SOLUTIONS of The Problem:

1. Diplomatic Stabilization Efforts:

  • Initiate diplomatic efforts to stabilize relations between major powers, focusing on conflict resolution and dialogue.

2. Multilateral Institution Strengthening:

  • Strengthen multilateral institutions to address the persistent stress they face, promoting collaboration on global challenges.

3. Conflict Resolution in Gaza and Ukraine:

  • Advocate for international efforts to find negotiated solutions to conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, reducing East-West tensions.

4. Peaceful Resolution of the Palestinian Issue:

  • Encourage Arab governments and major powers to work towards a just solution to the Palestinian issue, emphasizing a return to a two-state solution.

5. Promotion of Democracy:

  • Support initiatives that counter democratic regression, addressing issues of polarization, intolerance, and erosion of civil liberties.

6. Global Cybersecurity Cooperation:

  • Foster international cooperation in addressing cybersecurity threats, including data theft, fraud, and cyberattacks.

7. Regulation of Artificial Intelligence:

  • Advocate for international efforts to regulate the military uses of artificial intelligence, addressing potential dangers.

8. Middle Power Diplomacy:

  • Encourage middle powers to diplomatically engage with major powers, leveraging their positions to contribute to global stability.

9. Crisis Management and Prevention:

  • Develop strategies for crisis management and prevention, recognizing the complexity and disruptiveness of potential crises.

10. Promotion of Global Solidarity:

  • Advocate for initiatives that promote global solidarity, recognizing the interconnectedness of nations and the shared responsibility for addressing global challenges.

IMPORTANT Facts and Figures Given in the Article:

  • Key Geopolitical Challenges: Wars in Gaza and Ukraine, US-China confrontation, East-West tensions.
  • Predicted Trends: “Multipolar disorder,” onset of the “age of polycrisis.”
  • US-China Relations: Tense track due to differences on Taiwan, trade, technology, and geopolitical interests.
  • Global Elections in 2024: Over four billion people expected to cast their ballot in more than six dozen elections.
  • Democratic Regression: Pervasive trend with challenges from polarization, intolerance, erosion of civil liberties, and media freedom.
  • Global Cybersecurity Risks: Rising threats, including data theft, fraud, cyberattacks, and breaches of critical systems.
  • Advanced Technology Challenges: Disruptive effects of advanced technology, including AI’s military uses.

MCQs from the Article:

  1. What is the anticipated trend in US-China relations in 2024? A. Cooperative engagement B. Tense track with potential turbulence C. Diplomatic resolution D. Mutual understanding and collaboration
  2. What term does The Economist use to predict the state of the world in 2024? A. Bipolar stability B. Multipolar disorder C. Unipolar dominance D. Global harmony
  3. What is the major concern regarding East-West tensions in 2024? A. Peaceful resolution B. Escalation with potential intensification C. Diplomatic stability D. Multilateral cooperation
  4. What issue gains prominence in the Middle East due to Israel’s actions in Gaza? A. Economic development B. Regional alliances C. Palestinian issue D. Terrorism prevention
  5. What is the key factor impacting global elections in 2024? A. Economic stability B. Democratic regression C. Technological advancements D. Climate change concerns

VOCABULARY:

  1. Unsettled (adjective) (غیر مستقر): Not stable; prone to changes or disturbances.
  2. Volatility (noun) (تذبذب): The degree of variation of a financial trading price series over time.
  3. Fragmented (adjective) (ٹکڑے ٹکڑے): Broken into fragments or parts; disintegrated.
  4. Headwinds (noun) (روک): Factors that act as obstacles or challenges.
  5. Multipolar (adjective) (بہت دہرا): Involving or relating to multiple centers of power or influence.
  6. Polycrisis (noun) (بہت سی کرنسیز): A situation involving multiple crises.
  7. Turbulence (noun) (ہنگامہ): Violent or unsteady movement of air or water; metaphorically, a state of disturbance.
  8. Assertive (adjective) (اعلی حصہ):

Having or showing a confident and forceful personality. 9. Flashpoint (noun) (شعلہ نقطہ): A place, event, or time at which trouble or violence flares up. 10. Protracted (adjective) (دراز مدتی): Extended in time; prolonged. 11. Vortex (noun) (گرداب): A mass of whirling fluid or air, especially a whirlpool or whirlwind. 12. Pervasive (adjective) (جواری): Spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people. 13. Backslide (verb) (پیچھے ہٹنا): Relapse into undesirable behavior or condition; deteriorate. 14. Erosion (noun) (کٹاؤ): The gradual destruction or diminution of something. 15. Mitigating (adjective) (کم کرنے والا): Lessening the severity or impact of something. 16. Enabling (adjective) (قابل بنانے والا): Making possible or easy. 17. Leverage (noun) (موازنہ): The power or ability to influence people or events. 18. Bargaining Power (noun) (معاملاتی طاقت): The strength or advantage possessed by an individual or group in negotiations. 19. Crisis Management (noun) (ہنگامی انتظام): The process by which an organization deals with a sudden and significant event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public. 20. Solidarity (noun) (اخوت): Unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group. 📢 Attention Readers! We are deeply concerned about individuals who share our summaries without providing proper credit. We kindly request that you refrain from removing the attribution label affixed to this article. Considerable time, effort, resources, and expertise have been invested in its creation. It is essential to exhibit professionalism by crediting the source appropriately and acknowledging the rightful contributions. Your cooperation in sharing the original article is greatly appreciated. Failure to comply with this request may lead to legal consequences. 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Best regards, CSS MCQs dawn.com A precarious world in 2024 Maleeha Lodhi 7–9 minutes LOOKING ahead to what can be expected in 2024, the world will continue to be in an unsettled state with geopolitical tensions escalating and driving volatility in global markets. The international landscape has fragmented even more by the wars in Gaza and Ukraine and the US-China confrontation. Strong headwinds unleashed by multiple crises and unmet challenges make the future outlook a troubled one. Adding to uncertainty is a record number of elections next year in countries across the world including the US. The shift to a more multipolar world will gather increasing momentum but with multilateral institutions under persisting stress. Global power shifts will continue while middle powers will play a growing role in shaping geopolitics. Unpredictability will remain an overarching reality among key geopolitical trends, risks and challenges in 2024. The Economist’s ‘World Ahead 2024’ report predicts “multipolar disorder” due to conflicts and intensifying geopolitical rivalries. For sure, the number of cascading crises raging in the world today will keep it unstable and unsteady. Control Risks, the London-based risk consultancy firm, believes the coming year will witness “a high-water mark in crisis complexity and disruptiveness”, which could create a “risk management overload”. Others, including the World Economic Forum, point to the onset of the “age of polycrisis”. The most significant strategic dynamic in the year ahead will be the course of relations between the US and China. Although both global powers see the danger of unmanaged confrontation and have sought in recent months to stabilise ties, their differences on issues ranging from Taiwan to trade and technology curbs — as well as their clash of geopolitical interests — will expose relations to continuing turbulence. Washington’s policy of containing China, reaffirmed in the Biden administration’s national security strategy, and assertive pushback by China, will keep relations on a tense track. Tech decoupling will accelerate, military competition will escalate and Taiwan will remain a dangerous flashpoint. Control Risks, however, sees relations entering a “holding pattern” as both countries deal with pressing domestic challenges — presidential elections in the US and economic problems in China. Conflict is ruled out in most assessments by international think tanks and investment advisory companies such as Black Rock. But countries across the world still worry about an accidental clash in the fraught Asia-Pacific region — the strategic theatre of the US-China stand-off. While challenges will be formidable in the year ahead, global leadership will be in short supply. East-West tensions will intensify in 2024 with the war in Ukraine continuing but settling perhaps into a stalemate. Lack of serious efforts to find a negotiated end to the war means that a protracted conflict will continue to strain East-West relations, with obvious fallout on the global economy and supply chains. Global attention, however, has been diverted from Ukraine to Israel’s war on Gaza. The conflict has driven the Middle East into the vortex of violence and instability and what some Arab experts describe as a “generation-defining moment” for the Middle East. On the back-burner for decades, the Palestinian issue has shot to the top of the international agenda. It also underlined that the US policy of normalising relations between Arab states and Israel by ignoring Palestine was deeply flawed and unsustainable, with the Abraham Accords strategy now upended by the war. 2024 will challenge and test the ability of Arab governments and major powers to establish lasting peace and security in the region by finding a just solution to the Palestinian issue and pressing Israel to return to a two-state solution. In this polarised and fractured international landscape, middle powers will acquire more importance in influencing geopolitics in 2024. The US-China stand-off has offered opportunities and leeway to countries to increase their leverage by playing off that rivalry and pursuing an ‘independent’ path. Moreover, structural changes and dispersal of power in the international system — the very currency of power having changed — has created an enabling environment for middle power diplomatic activism and for them to wield influence. As these trends continue, they will create more space for middle powers to strengthen their bargaining power. This will oblige the two global superpowers to spend more diplomatic capital in engaging middle power countries. Most international risk assessments consider scores of elections due next year to have significant regional and international implications. Over four billion people are expected to cast their ballot in more than six dozen elections across the world. None is more consequential than the US presidential election. If former president Donald Trump returns to power this would have far-reaching consequences for the world. As he will likely pursue the same unilateralist, disruptive foreign policy that characterised his past administration this will negatively impact relations with China, war in Ukraine, ties with alliance partners and US commitments on climate change among other areas. A key question in 2024 will be whether the trend witnessed in recent years of democratic regression will persist or come to a halt. Democratic backsliding has been pervasive as many democracies across the world face challenges from polarisation, intolerance, and toxic politics. They have also witnessed an erosion of civil liberties and media freedom and suppression of dissent. This is happening against a backdrop of economic stress and rising, unmet public expectations. The global trend of democratic erosion has been recorded by many international organisations. For example, the latest edition of the Global State of Democracy report by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance found a record number of democracies in decline. It calculated that over two-thirds of the global population now live in backsliding democracies, authoritarian or hybrid regimes. How to respond to the disruptive effects and new vulnerabilities created by advance technology — often dubbed as weapons of mass disruption — will continue to be a challenge in the coming year. A digitalised world faces vexing issues of cybersecurity as threats rise across the world. Data theft and fraud, cyberattacks and breaches of critical systems, electricity networks and financial markets are all part of rising risks. Artificial intelligence, especially its military uses, also presents many dangers. Despite this there is no international effort aimed at managing or mitigating the destabilising effects of new technologies. Challenges there will be aplenty in 2024, but in a world where both global leadership and solidarity will be in short supply. The writer is a former ambassador to the US, UK and UN. Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2023

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