Israel and Hamas will “dominate the headlines” in the coming days, says David Patrikarakos in UnHerd, but “something else is going on” beneath the surface: the consolidation of the relationship between Iran and Russia. Both countries have been supportive of Hamas: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has “funded, armed and trained” the terrorist group since the early 1990s; Moscow has recently welcomed its leaders for official visits. Only last month, Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu visited Tehran to meet top military officials and tour the country’s drone and missile arsenal. This budding friendship is driven not just by the fact that they are both international pariahs, but by a “deep-seated desire” to loosen America’s grip on the world. For both sides, “every Hamas rocket that strikes home is not merely another act of terror but yet one more hole punched through the Western order”.
The sad truth is that the “Pax Americana of the post-Cold War period” is already over, says Hal Brands in Bloomberg. For a brief spell after 1991, Washington and its allies had “such decisive advantages” that geopolitics remained relatively stable. But with Russia, Iran and China now seeking to create their own spheres of influence, that stability has fallen apart. In Europe, there’s the “barbaric” war in Ukraine; Azerbaijan’s recent seizure of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia; and the rising threat of renewed conflict between Serbia and Kosovo. In the Western Pacific, tensions are rising over Taiwan and North Korea. In Africa, “coups have become contagious”; in gang-ridden Latin America, democracy is eroding. The Israel-Hamas conflict is a stark reminder that “we’re back to world politics as usual – and world politics is usually an ugly, violent affair”.