If 2020 was a dramatic year because of the most deadly pandemic in 100 years, 2023 is a year which consolidates a trend in which geography itself is a battlefield, and one which has such a devastating impact on human life, it is hard to see a resolution that is fair to those concerned.

On one level, there is the territorial Political Geography aspect: the creation of internal refugees in the Yemen due to the war waged by Saudi Arabia against people it doesn't like. The creation of an international refugee crisis in Syria caused by Bashar al-Asad's war against people he doesn't like. The expulsion of the Rohynga from Myanmar by a regime that believes they don't belong in their country. The creation of an international refugee crisis by Russia caused by its annexation of eastern Ukraine, its attack on the rest of the country on the basis that it is really part of Russia (which appears to mean Russia is bombing its own country). Israel's war on Gaza, caused by the terrorist insanity of Hamas, that nevertheless gives Israel the opportunity it has sought for decades, to render Gaza a strip land void of a human population.

On another level, Social Geography has led to a desolate situation where people do not feel safe in urban spaces -attacks on Jews and Muslims in particular atomize a space that is normally shared by all, to render it fraught with danger.

If people are not safe in the country they live in, they will move. If people are not safe in the town or city they live in, moving may not be an option.

I am sure Henry Kissinger would ignore the human aspect of all of this. Syria's strategic aim was to crush all opposition by all means necessary. Saudi Arabia wants the Houthi in Yemen stripped of their ability to form a Government, which was doubtful anyway in a chronically lawless country that could yet divide into two again. Russia's strategic interest is in re-creating the USSR if not in name, then in structural terms with its axis in Western Russia and the Ukraine, united again: threats made by Putin this week at Latvia, suggest Putin also believes the Baltic states are historically part of Russia, and not just because of the ethnic Russians there; but also has eyes on parts of Finland. This is not 'creative geography' so much as fidelity to an ideology of Russia as the last Christian Empire and the only remaining hope for mankind as the decadent west falls apart in an orgy of transgendered suicide.

Israel's strategic aim has been there since the first Aliyah in the 1880s discovered real people living in the land they wanted for themselves. Historic attempts to ignore the Palestinians led to the creation of exclusively Jewish networks in society and the economy, and in a stunning example of 'evolutionary geography', the denial of the Palestinians to have their own independent State and make their own decisions about their future, led first to the British making those decisions for them, and in 1947 the UN demarcating the territory and awarding most of it to the Palestinians, without either their or the Jewish Agency's approval. When it came to a confrontation 'this land? I'll fight you for it', the military success of Israel led to them becoming a majority until 1967, when their territorial ambitions meant the acquisition of what are now 4 million Palestinians who for the most part loathe and detest them.

It doesn't stop there, if the Likud have their way, their territorial vision of 'Erez Israel' would mean the fertile, eastern flank of Jordan be incorporated into Israel -Moab, Edom and Ammon. Jordan would cease to exist, other than its desert areas -where do the Jordanians go? Not all are Bedouin.

These strategic ambitions do not ignore the existence of people who 'don't belong': they shape the narrative: if Ukrainians don't want to be Russian they must pack their bags and leave. If Israel wants to be 100% secure, the Palestinians must go. Syria is owned by the family of al-Asad, if you don't want to maintain it, live somewhere else.

Voluntary exit or extermination? Another tactic is to make the land hostile to life, threaded with land-mines, all the residential and civic buildings destroyed, no water, no sewage systems, no food. Thus for strategic purposes you get a 'Geography of Desolation', or as was once coined, a 'Strategic Slum'.

Who is going to live in the Donbas if Russia succeeds in its annexation? Will Gaza be a waste land for decades to come? Crucially: where will the people go, who have been thrown out of their homes, their cities, their country?

As for the spaces between us, where we share what we make, and tolerate our differences, is there really no way of keeping that most essential diversity of life as the key to freedom and happiness?

To demonize others, to close off spaces where people live, to turn a street corner into a battle zone, to demarcate territory on the basis that 'only Arabs live there', or 'this is Trump country' -this to me is a trend that leads to despair, where there is no hope of hope at all.

I am off for Christmas and the New Year, committed to concerts and operas in Europe, to set aside the woes of the world. Nevertheless, I wish all a peaceful season, with as much love as the human heart can express.