The Events That Shaped the World in 2023

Conflicts in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East and right-leaning governments win elections in South America and Europe – these were the global events that mattered in 2023.


Conflicts in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East; rising tensions in East Asia and Latin America; and right-leaning governments win elections in South America and Europe – these were the global events that mattered in 2023.

The Oct. 7 Massacre

On Oct. 6, the most important event to occur in Israel this year was the judicial reform protests that saw thousands take to the streets in response to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Supreme Court overhaul plan. On Oct. 7, the world changed. Hamas terrorists slaughtered 1,200 Israelis in a brutal surprise attack, murdering civilians of all ages and unleashing a debauched campaign of mass rape against women in their homes and at a music festival. Approximately 240 people of all ages from dozens of countries were taken hostage in the attack.

The Israel-Hamas War

In response to the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, the Israeli Defense Forces invaded the Gaza Strip to eradicate Hamas once and for all. As of this writing, approximately 20,000 Gazans have been killed in the Israeli military campaign, including around 7,000-8,000 members of Hamas and 12,000 civilians. A week-long truce led to the release of over 100 hostages, but around 120 people remain in Hamas captivity. Spillover from the conflict in the form of Houthi rocket attacks has disrupted global trade in the Red Sea and led to more than 100 attacks on Americans in the region by terrorist groups backed by Iran and retaliatory American airstrikes on targets in Iraq.

The Global Surge of Antisemitism

While most Americans and many people worldwide have stood with Israel after a terrorist attack referred to by many outlets as “Israel’s 9/11,” the attacks have also led to a global surge of public expressions of antisemitism. Thousands of people marched through European capitals chanting “from the river to the sea,” a chant calling for the elimination of Israel, while in the United States there has been a rise in campus antisemitism that’s been abetted by national progressives and the mainstream news media. Dozens of pro-Palestine protesters have blocked roadways and marched in major cities. The wrongfooted response by left-wing university administrators to campus antisemitism became a national news story and led to the ouster of President of the University of Pennsylvania Liz Magill.

Stalemate in Ukraine

Ukraine’s long-awaited summer counteroffensive underperformed western expectations. The counteroffensive achieved some incremental victories along the southern front but the front lines in eastern Ukraine calcified into a stalemate as the war approaches its second anniversary in February. President Volodymyr Zelensky sacked his defense minister in September amid a wide-ranging crackdown on corruption in the defense establishment, news that did not help Ukraine’s case with House Republicans. Additional funding to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia remains tied up in Congress as 2023 draws to a close.

Prigozhin’s Rebellion

Vladimir Putin’s iron grip on power faced its first true threat in years in 2023, but he ends the year in apparently as strong a position as ever. Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and leader of the mercenary Wagner Group, launched a rebellion against Putin and marched on Moscow. Prigozhin was able to seize two major Russian cities and advanced within hundreds of miles of Moscow before Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko brokered a deal to end the putsch. Putin got the last laugh, however – Prigozhin would be dead within weeks, killed by a bomb planted on his private plane.

Right-Wing Governments Rise in South America and Europe

Conservative, right-wing, libertarian, or populist parties performed well in many of the key elections around the world in 2023. In perhaps the year’s most shocking electoral result, libertarian outsider Javier Milei won Argentina’s presidential election in a landslide with a pledge to take a “chainsaw” to the left-wing policies that have left 40% of Argentina in poverty. Center-right businessman Daniel Noboa won the Ecuador presidential election pledging to tackle crime and grow the economy, while the left-wing presidents of Colombia and Chile saw their approval ratings slide. The right had its own South American stumbles, most notably when right-wing rioters stormed government building in Brasilia in a riot nicknamed “Brazil’s Jan. 6.”

The conservative trend continued in Europe, which witnessed Greek Prime Minister Kryiakos Mitsotakis’ landslide reelection victory in May, the collapse of the centrist Dutch government over immigration and a hard-right party’s subsequent victory in the general election. Conservatives didn’t win everywhere, however – Spain’s left-wing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez took the Spanish constitution to its limits to secure another term after an inconclusive election. Even centrist French President Emmanuel Macron’s right turn on pensions & immigration can be seen as an indication voters everywhere are moving rightward.

The War Nobody Is Talking About

Ukraine and Israel were the focus of global attention in 2023, allowing another bloody conflict to escape public awareness. A new Sudanese civil war broke out in April, forcing the evacuation of US diplomats and spiraling into a multi-sided anarchy rife with human rights abuses. The recent trend towards military takeovers in Africa continued in 2023 when a coup in Niger raised fears of another regional conflict that could entangle its neighbors.

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© Dominic Moore, 2023