Given that this is a website dedicated to history, I think it’s really quite germane to reflect on events of the past 12 months. I try to do this every year, even though it seems like I don’t do justice when I’m rushing to get it done in the waning days or the old year, or the first few days of the new year. With that in mind, here I will present the highlight reel of events and issues that have popped up in the last year that I think have been particularly important.
The Israel-Palestine Conflict
Although this broke out relatively late this year (early October), the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas, and the subsequent response by Israel toward Gaza, has consumed much of the news cycle for the last few months of the year. It has been a brutal conflict, and at least in the early stages it seemed like it could break out into a larger regional, or even global war. Tensions waned a bit by December, but we will have to wait until many months into 2024 to see how it all plays out.
One of the most peculiar developments of this conflict has been how various external parties have reacted to it in the West. The usual anti-colonialist leftists have coalesced against Israel, but they have been pitted against more traditional leftist Jews/anti-racists who support Israel. Meanwhile, anti-Jewish voices on the right have been pitted against traditionally pro-Israel conservatives. There are also other positions that don’t fall squarely within any of these camps, which is why it is all so bizarre. I am part of the group that sympathizes with Israel’s plight while also being very leery of treating Israel as the 51st state, which could trigger U.S. involvement in World War III if we’re not careful.
The Waning Ukraine War
While the Russia-Ukraine War was one of the top stories in 2022, the topic seems to have slowly petered out in interest in 2023. It has been maddening that U.S. politicians seemed far more interested in funneling hundreds of billions of dollars into a war on the other side of the globe than into one of the major domestic problems happening in the U.S. right now, but such is the state of affairs when an empire is in decline. But at least the money is going to help Ukraine beat Russia, right? Well, not so fast.
In recent months it was reported that the U.S. and Europeans are “quietly” discussing peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia because, well, the war does not seem to be winnable for Ukraine. One of the reasons for this, according to the article cited above, is the decreased “public attention the war in Ukraine has garnered since the Israel-Hamas war began nearly a month ago”. If we extrapolate some ideas from this, Ukraine’s success on the battlefield was evidently linked to keeping the story in news cycles as much as possible, which presumably would put pressure on public officials in the West to keep funding the war effort. While I can understand this strategic need for continued funding by Ukraine, something seems incredibly raw if U.S. taxpayers were having their money shipped overseas because of the charming salesman techniques by the Zelensky, particularly if his country was fighting a war that wasn’t exactly winnable in the first place. It also raises a massive question about the alleged torpedoing of peace talks by the British early on in the conflict. Why in the world weren’t we pushing for peach talks all along so that the world could deal with Russia diplomatically? How many hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, and hundreds of billions spent, for nothing?
Again, this is why it has been so maddening.
The Border Crisis
Another maddening story of the past year isn’t a new story at all. It’s simply more of the same insane things that happen when, again, an empire is in decline. It turns out that as bad as illegal immigration was in past years, President Biden and Congress have decided that it needed to get even worse. As a result, 2023 saw the most illegal immigration in U.S. history.
At some point, everyone kind of needs to realize that our illegal immigration crisis isn’t an accident or due to horrible management, but a conscious ideological decision.
The rise of