Since Hamas's attack on Israel on Oct. 7, every plan laid down and every assumption relied upon by the United States has failed. What was supposed to be a contained military operation by the Israel Defense Forces has turned into a regional firestorm. The aircraft carriers sent to deter other actors from getting involved failed to stop the Houthis of Yemen from attacking Red Sea shipping. American bases became targets, and for more than 100 days, the attacks have continued despite US attempts at deterrence. The US Navy appears powerless to do anything to end what has now become a blockade of one of the world’s most important trade routes. Hezbollah is now bombing the Jewish state from Lebanon, and Egypt is transferring tanks and armored personnel carriers to the border with Gaza.  It is hard to say where things in the region will stand a couple of months from now. 

Once again, a long period of relative geopolitical stability is being followed by shorter periods of breakdown and violence. This is common in a lot of systems, not just political ones. Systems tend to settle themselves into fairly stable patterns, even as the factors that underpin that stability are slowly eroded over time. Then, once a limit is reached, the system suddenly tips over into chaos, after which it stabilizes itself once more. A basic example of this is a bridge that falls into the river. The structural weakening of the bridge might have played itself out over years or decades, but the fall itself occurs in a matter of seconds. 

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