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Geopolitial Winners and Losers of 2023

Geopolitical Winners and Losers of 2023

By Todd Davis

History happens when we least expect it. Year after year passes, marked by routine, and work schedules. Rarely do we notice the flow of time around us or see the forest through the trees. Our perspectives changed greatly in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when even the most insular recognized that we were collectively witnessing something monumental, something historic. Since that pivotal year, world-changing historical events have been happening almost nonstop. This past year of 2023 has been no different. Here are the winners and losers on the geopolitical stage as we close out the year and look forward to 2024. 


Donald Trump

Facing an unprecedented number of legal charges, most Americans who don’t watch Rachel Maddow gave up counting after fifty, and confronted with a full field of Republican Primary challengers, the year looked like it would be perilous for the former President. Quite the contrary, Trump defeated all challengers, has gotten only more popular since the Biden administration tried to prosecute him by proxy, and recently had what can only be called a triumphal return at a UFC event. 

Politically, Trump has rampaged over his primary opponents like Genghis Khan. Trump holds a dominating, unsurmountable lead in Iowa with the Caucus only weeks away. In addition, there has been a sustained shift toward Trump in national polls where his lead over Biden has gradually increased over the year. More importantly, Trump is running out to big leads in pivotal swing states like Michigan and Iowa. 

Remaining out of the spotlight and existing as a symbol has elevated Trump’s status into something between a cultural icon and a folk hero. He will enter 2024 with unbelievable momentum and a growing base of Americans drawn to his America First movement. 


Americans love abortion. There is no getting around it. Whenever abortion comes up on the ballot, Americans voice their support for the procedure. Nothing is quite as American as football, apple pie, and abortion. 

Leaving aside the destruction abortion has wreaked on birth rates leading to population decline in both America and virtually every European country, abortion has become part of mainstream female identity in Western culture. Women are no longer defined by their role as mothers and caregivers. Women are now defined by their ability to choose. My body, my choice. The right to have an abortion, a choice made singly by the woman involved without interference from her male partner, a medical professional, or the State is one of the defining characteristics of modern women. 

Republicans have struggled to address the issue. When a topic becomes individualized on a quasi-religious level you aren’t changing people’s hearts and minds, at least not soon. America is an abortion nation, and how political parties and society in general deal with that fact will determine the social direction the country takes over the next decade-plus. 


Russia launched its SMO in 2022 in support of the Donetsk and Lughansk People’s Republics embroiled in a war of independence against Ukraine which refused to follow the Minsk Agreements. What started out as a clash between militia soon turned into a full-blown war with NATO. European Union economic warfare and NATO escalation caught the Russians unprepared for a broad multifaceted conflict. In the final months of 2022, Russia made the politically difficult but strategically sound decision to withdraw from Kherson giving Ukraine a tremendous propaganda win.

The whole world was watching in 2023 waiting for Ukraine’s Spring Offensive. Seemingly every former NATO general you could find was predicting Ukraine would be in Crimea by summer. Russian forces would be split in two, the Kerch Bridge would be destroyed, Russia would have to sue for peace paying trillions in war reparations and Ukraine would win the war. Except that it didn’t. 

Russia built hundreds of miles of fortifications and broke Ukraine’s army on them. Meanwhile, MSM was forced to concede that Russia had won the decisive Battle of Bakhmut. Zelensky’s Stalingrad propped up as a symbol of Ukrainian defiance fell after months of combat and 70,000 losses to the AFU. All the NATO equipment and training sent to Ukraine in 2023 was pulverized on these two fronts. 

Following these twin victories, Russia pressed its advantage and went on the offensive all across the front. A new cauldron has formed around Avdiivka that looks a lot like Bakhmut, sounds a lot like Bakhmut, and is going to end exactly like Bakhmut. 

Russia has more men, more tanks, more planes, more shells, and more guns than Ukraine. Russia won the war in 2023. It may drag on for a while yet. But the outcome is no longer up for debate. 

Taylor Swift


There is no doubt about it, Taylor Swift was the Person of the Year. She played in sold-out stadiums across the world, routinely singing for over three hours, and in the process, she created a worldwide movement. 2023 was the Year of Taylor.

Wherever she performed, a Taylor economy sprang up infusing millions into local businesses. Her appeal is far-reaching. The 34-year-old singer/songwriter has fans in every demographic imaginable. Preteen daughters and their Gen X fathers sing along to the same songs knowing them word for word. Taylor Swift is the biggest musical phenomenon of this century.

Taylor has dabbled in political issues becoming increasingly outspoken since she entered her 30s. As the most popular entertainer in the world, it seems there is no limit to the political office she could claim should she have the desire to go for it. Taylor’s brand is at least as large as Donald Trump’s pre-presidency. Probably larger.  Is it that far-fetched to see Taylor parlaying this into a political career as she enters her late 30s and early 40s? Could Taylor be the first female president of the United States? If any of that is in her future, 2023 was the year that made it possible. 



Inflation itself might be a winner, but all of us are losers because of its effect. People can’t buy houses. Used cars are nearly as expensive as new cars. Utility prices have doubled. And every time we go to the grocery store it feels like we are being punched below the belt. You want what now for a carton of eggs? Those are just regular eggs, right? They aren’t magic eggs? These aren’t those special eggs from a golden goose, are they?

For three decades Americans lived with low interest rates and virtually zero inflation. What caused inflation? Not even Harvard knows. If you don’t like Joe Biden you can blame him. Failed economic sanctions on one of the world’s largest producers of minerals and energy certainly haven’t helped. There are dozens of factors that we can point at. Whatever the cause or combination of factors that led to this doesn’t matter so much as the root problem; capitalism is failing us.

The COVID-19 pandemic injected the super wealthy with steroids leading to the largest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 1% the world has ever seen. The Dow Jones has hit a record high even as Americans across the country struggle to put food on the table. We are living in two different Americas. Two different worlds. Two different dreams. It is hard to see how these realities are reconcilable. 

Ron DeSantis

Among all the Republican candidates hoping to challenge Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis has to be the most disappointed. There was a governor from Montana who was running and someone named Asa. Mike Pence had no chance often talking like he was stuck in 1995 debating Bob Dole. Chris Christie was there only because he was paid to be there by Deep State donors trying to derail Trump. Nikki Haley? She’s an authoritarian warmonger, the worst type of NeoCon who is despised by the majority of the Republican base. 

But not DeSantis. Ron had everything lined up for him. He was the future of the Republican Party. Ron, as governor of Florida, had the best policy in America during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ron took on Disney and won, sort of, if he would have taken the W and moved on. Disney stock hit a decade low. The once pristine brand has been tarnished, perhaps beyond repair, by inserting itself in cultural issues and promoting alternative lifestyle choices that the majority of America does not want aimed at kids. Parents no longer trust Disney.

DeSantis lacks the finesse touch. Instead of walking away and allowing the media to crown him the winner he kept going to the point where it looked like government overreach. Would we want liberal politicians going after a conservative-leaning company the way DeSantis is hounding Disney?

Beyond Disney, DeSantis failed to connect with the Republican base. Reluctant to take on Trump directly until the last couple of weeks, voters decided why pick New MAGA when they could still get Original MAGA. DeSantis at one point, was either in the margin of error or leading Trump. Trump now leads by 32 points over the Florida governor. 

A lot of candidates have miserable campaigns. Elizabeth Warren comes to mind. She didn’t have a plan for finishing 4th in New Hampshire. No candidate has had such potential and flopped so badly in 2023 as Ron DeSantis. 


Israel, in the collective Western consciousness, has generally enjoyed a favorable reputation. Fundamental Christians support Israel due to its religious significance in the Bible and the Jewish state benefits from an extremely powerful lobby group, AIPAC which is more or less dedicated to ensuring that every generation of American congresspeople stands with Israel. 

Following the October 7th attack on Israel by Hamas, world sympathy tended to gravitate toward the Israelis. That goodwill was quickly squandered as Israel mobilized 300,000 conscripts and began carpet bombing Gaza, an area the size of Detroit dropping in excess of 9,000 bombs and turning the Palestinian zone into something out of the Hunger Games. When Amnesty International accuses you of being an occupier committing war crimes, you can expect public opinion to turn against you. And it did. Fast. 

Nation-wide protests swept across the United States both on college campuses and in major cities as citizens and activists took to the streets condemning Joe Biden’s policy of supporting Israel in its war on Palestine. Virtually every major European capital saw huge crowds, often reaching into the hundreds of thousands as people let it be known that they did not, in fact, support Israel but were behind the Palestinian people.

Israel was, in some corners, labeled an apartheid state, an occupier, and a perpetrator of war crimes against women and children both before the start of the war and in the bombing and ground campaign after October 7th. Even though the United States ordered a carrier group into the Mediterranean off the coast of Israel, and America doesn’t undertake the cost and risk of moving such a force into a region if it doesn’t intend to use it, it was unable to enter the war directly so virulent was the opposition on the homefront. Joe Biden is bleeding voters, especially young Gen Z voters that the Democrats increasingly rely upon in their coalition over this war. 

Regardless of how the war turns out, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that Israel will be able to accomplish its stated goal of eliminating Hamas. It’s hard to see how the nation will ever recover its reputation. Several generations of American and European liberal youths will never look at Israel the same. From a geopolitical standpoint, Israel has never had less support on the global stage. A textbook example of how you can win a battle but lose the war. 


What can one say about Ukraine? 500,000 killed in action. The worst counteroffensive in the history of modern warfare. Even the desperate Germans reached Bastogne. Ukraine made it a few kilometers then got stuck at a place called Robotyne. Bakhmut, Zelensky’s Stalingrad, fell. Russians are advancing all along the front and it appears the United States is about to cut off funding in a complicated partisan dispute. The bottom line is that Americans don’t back losers and Ukraine did nothing but lose in 2023. Never overpromise and underdeliver. 

Ukraine has no path forward. 2023 was 1943 for Ukraine. Its version of Kursk failed. All the veterans are gone. Munitions are sparse. Nothing good happened for the Germans, Ukraine’s spirit guide to war with Russia, after 1943 and Ukraine is destined to walk among the ghosts of Eastern Fronts past. All that is left is the long retreat to Berlin…err Kiev. I mean Kyiv. Whatever it calls itself, the time for negotiations is over, surrender and partition are in the future. And for that reason, no one had a worse year on the geopolitical stage than Ukraine. 

Todd Davis

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