Generally, predictions are tricky. However, predictability has been the hallmark of the Biden administration: no national security problems are solved. When the US president blunders, he doubles down and sticks with what he knows – missteps, procrastination, and indecision. With no change expected to the US approach in 2024, Russia, North Korea, China, and Iran are growing military menaces.
At the beginning of 2023, Liberty Nation went out on a limb, identifying four national security threats to look for in the coming year. Now that 2024 is upon us, we can once again take an educated guess at what to expect in the not-too-distant future. In 2024, the national security dynamics for Joe Biden’s defense and foreign policy team have changed only because what was problematic in the past will intensify – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the timid policy toward support for Kyiv will continue to be an issue, as will China causing trouble in the Asia-Pacific. In addition, threats for the new year are likely to include a much bolder North Korea and a dangerous Middle East that must be carefully navigated.
Biden Will Face Growing Middle East Threats
Starting with the most pressing and immediate problem facing the US, resolving the deteriorating situation in the Middle East and Gulf Region, the White House will be faced with a decision on whether to stay in Iraq with some level of military presence. The murderous attack on Israel by Iran-inspired Hamas terrorists has brought the so-called “Axis of Resistance’s” real intentions to the forefront. Iran and its puppets want the US out of Iraq and ultimately out of the Middle East.
The US military would make a more impressive statement if it were allowed to deal with Iran as the problem versus taking a defensive posture when attacked by Iran-backed proxies. To date, that level of leadership has been missing.
US military outposts and bases in Syria and Iraq have been struck with missiles and drones launched by Iran-supported proxy militias more than 102 times since October 17, 2023. Iran-supplied Houthi terrorists have launched a barrage of cruise missiles, drones, and ballistic missiles at merchant ships in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab straits, with nearly daily attacks. On December 26, Military.com reported that during a ten-hour period, the US Navy destroyed a total of 17 drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. Unless the US becomes more aggressive than the pinprick responses Americans have witnessed, expect the problems generated by Iran in the Middle East to intensify.
The Conflict in Ukraine Will Not Go Away
Ukraine will continue to be a stalemated conflict, with both Moscow and Kyiv unwilling to negotiate. After more than 675 days of fighting following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, a negotiated settlement to the conflict appears as far off as ever. Additionally, the Biden administration will have to work with a Congress skeptical of its strategy and no longer willing to dole out money to Kyiv hand over fist as it has in the past.
Again, the failure of Biden’s leadership to change the dynamic of the conflict instills little confidence that in 2024 the situation will change dramatically. What may drive a Biden alteration to his present course would be a reaction to the potential of a second term for Donald Trump. The former president has expressed less enthusiasm for the current US strategy of simply sustaining the current stalled conflict.
Biden Will Face a More Aggressive North Korea
Then there is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which has grown bolder and more belligerent with the US and its neighbors. During President Biden’s time in office, Pyongyang has engaged in an unprecedented number of long-, medium-, and short-range missile tests. The level of bellicose rhetoric by North Korea’s president has become more clamorous and threatening. “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un called for the acceleration of war preparations in response to what he described as ‘unprecedented’ confrontation moves from the United States, state media reported Wednesday [Dec. 27],” The Hill explained. Unless the US takes a different approach to North Korea, expect more of this boldness in 2024. The recently strengthened ties between Pyongyang and Moscow as the DPRK becomes a supplier of artillery shells to Russia for its Ukraine invasion give Kim Jong Un the confidence to be brash in facing down the Biden administration.
China Remains America’s Biggest Threat
From a long-term perspective, outliving the Biden administration is the building momentum of China’s economic and military expansionism. Nothing the US national security team has done so far portends diminishing the aggressive People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) war-like threats and behaviors towards its Indo-Pacific neighbors.
President Xi Jinping is determined to unite Taiwan with mainland China. Despite US initiatives to strengthen the Taipei government, there is little to suggest that in 2024, Beijing will back off. Even with US Indo-Pacific Command exercises, freedom of navigation operations, and training maneuvers in the region, expect increased PLA Air Force and Navy activities attempting to deny access to disputed islands and US support to Taiwan. Additionally, 2024 will see, no doubt, more Russia-China military naval exercises in the Sea of Japan and surrounding Pacific Ocean, building on a strengthening military relationship.
Will the US Election Impact Biden’s Strategy?
With each global threat America faces, the Biden national security team has been timid. America’s foreign policy and defense staff have acted on the notion that all parties in the US threat dynamic behave in good faith with a mutually agreeable end state in mind. This, of course, is not true. Such a position borders on pathological naivete.
The unknown is how the Biden administration will address the 2024 global threats and challenges considering the impact of a presidential campaign. The current Republican front-runner and previous resident of the White House can claim his foreign policy and defense efforts prevented the level of global unrest and conflict experienced by the Biden administration. Because the Biden team has failed to explain its national security doctrine or strategy in the last three years, suddenly showing success in modifying or reducing the threats to the US presented by Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China will be difficult to impossible in 2024. But again, predictions are tricky.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.