Farewell, American Empire.
The American empire is coming to an end. The U.S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U.S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too.
Hedges hears the empire's death rattle.
This collective self-delusion saw the United States make the greatest strategic blunder in its history, one that sounded the death knell of the empire—the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
America is following a well traveled path, littered with the debris of earlier empires.
“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” [historian Alfred W.] McCoy writes. “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micromilitary operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”
The inescapable stench of decline spreads across America.
Bracing for abrupt change.
When revenues shrink or collapse, McCoy points out, “empires become brittle.”
“So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly wrong, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, eleven years for the Ottomans, seventeen for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, just twenty-seven years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003 [when the U.S. invaded Iraq],” he writes.
Every empire collapses in its own way. Some, like the Brits handle it somewhat better than others. In Britain's case there was an acceptance of the inevitable albeit the British left behind some deep scars of their colonial era. How will America handle its decline? It's a nation as deeply divided as it has been since the Civil War. Inequality thrives. The country has become ungovernable even with the Republicans controlling all the reins of power - the House, the Senate, the White House and, yes, the US Supreme Court. The Republican party is fighting a low-grade, in-house insurrection that threatens to break into a civil war. The Republicans aren't just defunding the federal and state governments, they're cleaning out the pantry on their way out the door.
The growing instability of the United States, internally and on the world stage, leaves the future utterly unpredictable. Hang on. It could be a rough ride.