Audio - Foreign Policy

Stephen Walt Looks Ahead to 2024

| Jan. 01, 2024

Q&A with Stephen Walt

Ravi Agrawal: What is the most underweighted risk for 2024? In other words, what should we be worried about that we aren’t already? 

Stephen Walt: One is the possibility of a significant escalation in the Middle East conflict. The good news is that so far none of the bystanders and third parties in the region have seemed very enthusiastic about getting involved. There's been a little bit of conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. The Houthis have fired some rockets. But in general, everyone seems to want to keep this limited and confined.

If the conflict continues—and this may go on for months—the ability or the willingness of most of the regional powers to stay on the sidelines may deteriorate. If you get a serious war between Israel and Hezbollah, and if that forces Iran to get more actively involved—which, of course, then drags the United States in on Israel's side—you suddenly have a regional conflict of the sort we haven't really seen in decades, if ever.

RA: How do you see things playing out between the Israelis and the Palestinians over the next few months? What do you think things might look like one year from now?

SW: Unfortunately, I think things are not going to look that different a year from now. By then, the act of violence will be over. There will be some kind of cease-fire or an end to the Israeli campaign in Gaza. Gaza will have been largely destroyed. So this is going to be a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions, and that's not going to end within a year or so. The fundamental problem—the political problem of how Israelis and Palestinians will coexist in this geographic space—will not have been resolved a year from now. In a sense, we will have kicked the can down the road. I don't think you'll see a shift in the Israeli government to suddenly say, "Now we're in favor of genuinely pursuing a two-state solution." I don’t think you're going to see a reformed and newly empowered Palestinian Authority. I don't think you’re going to see Hamas eliminated. You may even see Hamas more popular both in Gaza and the West Bank than it was before as a symbol of Palestinian resistance. The depressing news here is, a year from now, when we have this conversation, that issue will be just as intractable and unresolved as it is today....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Stephen Walt Looks Ahead to 2024.” Audio, January 1, 2024, posted by “Foreign Policy”.

The Authors

Stephen Walt