The war in Gaza is now more than a month old. The violence will undoubtedly and permanently alter the relationship between Israel and Hamas as well as between Israelis and Palestinians. Yet some are pointing to the potential for this war to transform global politics more broadly.
Foreign Policy columnist Stephen Walt argued that “even if the war is confined to Gaza and ends soon, it is going to have significant repercussions around the world.” Similarly, terrorism and counterterrorism expert Ethan Bueno de Mesquita recently remarked that “the war between Israel and Hamas has serious implications for the emerging geopolitical order with stakes far larger than these local concerns.” Such views follow on the heels of commentary at the outset of the conflict that the war had the potential not only to engulf the entire Middle East, but also spread globally.
Such views should not be dismissed out of hand. The war is already potentially complicating Western support for Ukraine, from renewing opposition to the level of aid Washington is sending to Kyiv, to highlighting shortfalls in munition inventories that were already dangerously low. Given the production and stockpile shortages plaguing the defense industrial base of the U.S. and other Western countries, they are already in the position of having to divert munitions from Ukraine to Israel. If the war in Gaza ultimately compels Ukraine’s Western backers to pressure Kyiv to seek a settlement with Moscow, this could hand Russian President Vladimir Putin a victory, even if a costly one. This, in turn, could embolden autocrats globally.