As the year 2023 comes to a close, ringing in the New Year with bubbly and celebrations feels out of place in a world that's sleepwalking towards World War III. For, geopolitically the world is shifting away from decades of American pre-eminence with the leverage necessary to set the global agenda, to a geopolitical landscape in which the rise of China and Russian belligerence will set the stage for a showdown.Let us count the ways.With winter taking hold in the West, the Russia-Ukraine war is two years old, frozen, with no winner or loser and upwards of 500,000 having lost their lives. The West has thrown everything at Putin in an attempt to weaken him, but he appears to be getting stronger as his country’s economy is on wartime footing with low unemployment and its GDP growing despite Western sanctions. The Napoleon-like Putin recently visited the UAE walking tall and looking energetic. He was greeted with a parade of soldiers, camels, Russian flags, and a twenty-one-gun salute. He then visited Saudi Arabia where the Crown Prince welcomed him with open arms and discussed expanding cooperation. Putin is exploiting the Middle East conflict to get back on the world stage and show the West he is not going away anytime soon.Since the Second World War, America has dropped its isolationist thinking and has been active around the world confronting threats and pushing American ideals. Thirty countries, most of them in NATO, rely on the American nuclear umbrella for protection. But with a foreign policy that is over-extended, and mounting domestic pressures at home, ranging from a chaotic southern border and increasing crime, to a polarized political environment along with a huge debt load of $34 trillion, how long can it continue to fund multiple wars before the treasury runs dry?Meanwhile, US foreign policy with all its presumed good intentions has been unable to prevent two significant wars from taking place in Europe and the Middle East. In each case, its foreign policy failed to address the root cause of the region’s problems. America understood Putin's red lines regarding NATO expansion towards its border. In 2021, Biden held a high-stakes meeting where Putin addressed his concerns and Biden did not take him seriously. It came naturally, perhaps: Biden has a long history of advocating for NATO expansion. In 1998 as a Democratic Senator he voted in favour of expanding NATO to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic and said Cold War enemies to the western military alliance amounted to "righting a historical injustice forced upon the Poles, Czechs and Hungarians by Joseph Stalin.” Biden promised that NATO expansion would produce decades of peace. Instead it has produced a major war.Then there's the Middle East. In 2020, the Trump administration initiated the Abraham Accords to create long-lasting peace in the Middle East. “After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump beamed as he welcomed officials from Israel, Bahrain and the UAE to the White House to sign the deal.The Biden administration has carried on what Trump started and pushed hard to get Saudi Arabia to sign the Accords that would have them recognize Israel and transform the Middle East. However, the Accords had one fatal flaw. In the negotiations between Israel and the Arab nations, the demand for a Palestinian State was no longer a condition for normalizing relations with Israel. The US, Israel and the Arabs ignored what to do with millions of Palestinians living under occupation. Ignoring the plight of the Palestinians is one of America’s greatest foreign policy failures.US foreign policy is so thinly stretched it has lost sight of what its core interests are and has made it too weak to defend its global interests especially when it is fighting multiple wars at the same time. Already the US Congress has lost patience with progress in the Ukraine-Russia war as the US has spent $75 billion in what could turn out to be a multi-year commitment. The Israeli-Hamas conflict will also take months of fighting and billions of dollars and distract America from China (which is busy selling itself as a non-interventionist superpower). And China? It is on the rise and becoming more authoritarian. Some say it will rule the 21st century. The US is attempting to contain its rise and has created the AUKUS alliance with the UK and Australia, expanded military bases in the Philippines and it continues to arm Taiwan. The economic war against China includes restrictions on its high-end technology products and re-shoring of manufacturing; the resulting capital flight will slow Chinese growth and its rising power.However by over-committing to the Ukraine war, which carries little strategic value for the US, it has allowed Russia to form a close bond with China. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, nailed its geopolitical ramifications on the head: “Russia and China have started doing joint military exercises, I don't know how many people are aware of this,” he said. "We are sleepwalking our way into World War III with one foolish decision after the other. "Russia has the raw materials and China has the industrial capacity. It’s frankly a perfect match from a war standpoint.” In other words, 2024 could be the year when the world’s largest militaries collide and thereby ignite the geopolitical powderkeg. How does one even prepare for such a doomsday scenario? A war between the US and China will involve the launch of cyber attacks rendering the power grid useless. Then, everything goes dark. Mass panic will take hold and present a great danger. Having a place to store canned food, water, first aid, medicines, lots of batteries, and an energy power pack along with self-defence tools could be critical to survival. Certainly, Elites around the world are bracing for a breakdown of civilization.Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg is spending $100 million in Hawaii to build a self-sufficient 5,000-square-foot subterranean survival mansion. Open AI’s founder Sam Altman is preparing himself with antibiotics, gas masks, and guns. Survival will belong to the most adaptable and resource-rich. And what are the chances that these will turn out to be the best investments they ever made?Should China’s GDP continue to decline, its real estate sector melt away trillions of yen and with youth unemployment at 21%, China could have that now-or-never moment just as did Germany before the First World War, when it believed Britain was attempting to suppress its rise, declared war against Russia and attacked France to start a world war. The First World War was destructive enough. This time around a global war may put an end to civilization. What emerges from its ashes, is anyone’s guess.