The Empire Is Collapsing, and Americans Will Be the Last to Know

50 years from now historians will probably be writing about the fall of the American empire. But history is writing itself furiously in the present, accelerated by the revolution of global freedom of information. What would have taken years to unlikely gather is accessible to anyone with a few strokes on a computer keyboard. So never mind the historians of the future, and lets  see how  reality is shaping up today.

In my last commemoration of 9/11/2001, I made the argument that the crumbling period of the United States empire started on this tragic day. Since then, a chain of events so dire occurred that it would seem the empire defeated itself by a series of catastrophic mistakes. After 9/11,  Americans wanted revenge, and the war in Afghanistan became a very easy sale for the Bush administration. But then the neo-cons seized the opportunity to push their agenda  of the New American Century project, and it was precisely the Achille’s heel  of the empire.

Attacking Iraq: The Biggest Geopolitical Blunder In History

When the Bush administration attacked Iraq in 2003, a critical element escaped their understanding of the regional and demographic parameters: By toppling the Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein, they would give the upper hand to the oppressed Shia Iraqi majority allied with Iran.

In a word, the US troops who fought and died in the conflict did it ultimately for the regional benefit of the Iranian Islamic Republic. The blunders did not stop with geopolitics, but were compounded by a catastrophic financial burden.

The Cost Of Wars in Iraq And Afghanistan Is Bankrupting The US Economy

If the Pentagon was a corporation, it would be the largest in the world. The curiously called, Department Of Defense, costs the  American taxpayers, since the ill advised attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, around $700 billion a year. Of course, if you add up health care for wounded veterans, and  layers of new “security” administration such as the Department of Homeland Security,   the numbers keep adding up to top $1 trillion a year. Overall more than 25 percent of the federal budget gets swallowed in the financial black hole that is the Pentagon.

If Americans could do the math, they would quickly understand that the bill for the two wars is now creeping up to $10 trillion. In order to achieve the chimeric goals of the neocons of an ever lasting global American empire money had to be borrowed. Currently, for every dollar spent by the federal government 40 cents is borrowed. America used to borrow mainly from Japan and Europe. but now does its main borrowing from China. In a striking reversal of fortune, the “poor man of Asia” has now become the country in the world with the most liquid assets.

Empires Always Have An Expiration Date

Americans have a delusional  sense of historic exceptionalism which they share with most previous empires. After all America’s ascension to a leading role on the world scene is very recent. The deal was sealed in Yalta in 1945 between Stalin and Roosevelt, with Churchill present but already taking the back seat. In a matter of 5 years, and about 60 million deaths, two news empires had emerged from the ruin of three: the United States and the Soviet Union. On the losing side of history was, of course, Japan, the empire of the sun, but also Britain and France.

The old imperial powers of Britain and France were slow to fully understand the nature of the new game. It took the loss of India for the United Kingdom, in 1948,  and the one of Indochina for France in 1951 to make them understand that they would have from now on an ever shrinking role on the world stage. However, it took 9 years for Britain and France to fully digest the consequences of Yalta. In 1956, France and Britain took their very last joint imperialist venture by attacking Egypt over the ownership of the Suez Canal. The decaying empires were told to back off by the United States and the USSR.

A Repressive Capitalist  Globalization Or The Revolution Of Global Freedom Of Information ?

The Cold War was a fairly predictable era. Beside a few crisis such as the flash point of  the Cuba missile crisis, the two super-powers fought to augment their respective turfs thought proxy wars. But Afghanistan came along for the Soviets, and the long war made the USSR collapsed. Naturally the United States started acting as the only super-power left, and for this reason as the master of the universe.

The narrative of Ronald Reagan is peppered by such elements, and so is the one of all of his successors including Barack Obama. But all empires had the same  distorted visions of themselves, the Romans imposed the Pax Romana on their vassals for a long time , so did Charlemagne, and Napoleon for a much shorter time. In any sense, power is cyclical and never lasts.

Thanks to WikiLeaks and the courage of his founder Julian Assange and the one of  Pentagon’s whistleblower Bradley Manning, it has become rather obvious that while President Obama has changed the official tone of Washington from the Bush administration, the overall goals of US foreign policies have remained  the same: Ensure and expend  US power and authority on vassal states. This push to establish a new world order under exclusive US authority has been prevalent in all of the US administrations since Ronald Reagan and the end of the cold war.

President Obama, despite what could be his personal convictions is a prisoner of this imperial system. Obama is trapped by a complex nexus of inter-locking institutions such as the Pentagon, the CIA, the State Department etc, and by powerful interest groups profiting from endless wars. The very same institutions and interest groups have been at the core of every post-1945 imperial presidency. As early as 1946, president Harry Truman said: “From Darius’ Persia, Alexander’s Greece, Hadrian’s Rome, Victoria’s Britain; no nation or group of nations has had our responsibilities.”

However, most analysts and foreign policy experts currently assume that the present century will not be American. In this tectonic  power shift, under the push of China and India, the emerging new world order will be plural and decentralized. But the main question is: How Americans will adapt to this new paradigm where the United States loses its status of uncontested leadership?


14 Responses to The Empire Is Collapsing, and Americans Will Be the Last to Know

  1. rj December 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Good article, I’m not sure how you define empire.
    I’m not sure how other americans will react, here are a couple suggestions.
    how bout we withdraw mostly from world affairs, leave em to their own self destruction.
    secure our own borders, kick out any not here legally,
    knuckle down and rebuild in the spirit of our founders.
    get our political house in order, with elections instead of guns while we still can.
    feed ourselves and kick up prices by export taxes especially food,to pay off our debt,
    redevelop our natural resources, we still have lots
    redevelop our industry, we need to self support again
    watch as islam takes over civil countries and instills sharia law to drive the rest of the world back to the stone ages, or the rest of the world wakes up and realizes that islam is on world conquest
    This is the United States of America, too many around the world and within our borders have forgotten we have no need to expand further, lets keep secure what we have, build the greatest standard of living in the world and to hell with the rest of em.
    Be done with being the world policeman.
    When the world gets hungry enough maybe they will be more open to discussion of live and let live.
    But hey thats a little radical…I rant.

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier December 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm

      This is the best rant you ever had on NJP.

      • Scott B December 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

        I have been saying for years now the same things that you have mentioned in your post. Your insight is spot on. Well said.

    • Gragg December 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm

      Isolation is no more tenable now than it was prior to WW1 especially with the inter-connectedness of world markets..
      Radical Muslims with nukes? so much for isolationism…

      Deporting 12 million illegal aliens..where to start with this one?
      The size and scope of such a move, not to mention the physical cost to do so and then impact on the economy make this idea a nice sound bite for the xenophobes out there, but a non starter once rational thought takes over.

      Most Muslims, like most Christians are decent, peaceable persons who want to live normal lives with a minimum of strife and violence. It is the radicals of both groups that should be cause for alarm to the rest of us. Let us not forget that Christianity has also been on a “World Conquest” bent… in the past and the present day. Currently both religions are focusing on one the poorest regions of our planet, Africa and both to impose their religious laws on the population there.
      Yes it was quite a rant, but it wasn’t so radical as it was unrealistic or at a minimum, uninformed.

      • Liam Fox December 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm

        Well said

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  3. Ole Ole Olson December 7, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Excellent analysis. Like all empires, the arrogance of the people inside it eventually meets reality, often with catastrophic mass psychological results. There is a reason why the gigantic terror of Godzilla became such an icon in Japanese culture, it symbolized the sudden realization that their growing power and resulting arrogance did not meet global realities.

    America is rapidly heading towards it’s own Godzilla moment, although it could honestly take up to a generation to materialize depending on various circumstances. When it does, people will look back and wonder, “WTF were they thinking back then? How could they be so ridiculously short sighted?”

  4. Adam December 7, 2010 at 6:39 am

    I’d love to repost this, but please proof read and clean it up. The grammar mistakes take away from the message of a well thought out argument. Unless English is your second language, take another pass.

    “What would have taken years to unlikely gathered is accessible to anyone with a few strokes on a computer keyboard.”

    “The blunders did not stopped to geopolitics, but were compounded by a catastrophic financial burden.”

    “Americans have a delusional sense of historic exceptionalism which they share will most previous empires”

    “In a matter of 5 years, and about 60 million deaths, two news empires had emerged from the ruins of three”

    “America used to borrow mainly from Japan and Europe. but now do its main borrowing from China.”

    “On the loosing side of history was, of course, Japan”

    “How Americans will adapt to this new paradigm where the United States lose its status of uncontested leadership?”

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier December 7, 2010 at 9:43 am


      Thank you for pointing this out. I made the necessary corrections. Feel free to re-post my article. Also, English is indeed my second language, French is my first language.

  5. Gragg December 7, 2010 at 7:46 am

    The writer neglected to reflect on history when making the assumption (commonly held, so it’s not actually anything new) that China will ascend into a new role as the premier global super power replacing the US.
    China has manifest problems that preclude this assumption from occurring. Not the least of which is the widening income disparity between the coastal areas and the rural ones. When this has occurred in the past, China had 2 options, disintegrate the vast empire (China is remarkably similar to the former Soviet Union in that it is a nation held together by force) or close back in itself. Previously option 1 has been unpalatable to ruling party (s) and option 2 has been consistently chosen.
    India has similar problems with its new found prosperity and will take decades to work them out (if it can at all).
    While past performance is no indicator of future results they do provide a template for what may happen in the future, especially if the reaction has been consistent in the past. Couple this with the vast military reach of the US and this scenario becomes remote at best (but certainly not impossible). Like it or not, the can project overwhelming military power anywhere in the world and no one else even comes close to this ability. Economically we have that same capability even if it has been diminished recently and unlike China or India, we could albeit painfully be completely self supporting if needed.
    Lastly, if the author is going to edit and repost someone else’s article it is always a good idea to cite your sources (not to mention polite). A remarkably similar article was posted on truth out on Dec 5th…

    The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

    Sunday 05 December 2010

    by: Alfred W. McCoy | TomDispatch | Op-Ed

    It is NEVER good form to post someone eles’s work as your own…

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier December 7, 2010 at 9:00 am

      There is no plagiarism whatsoever in my article. Just want to add that one of the editor of truth out is a good friend of mine.

      • Gragg December 7, 2010 at 9:20 am

        I just thought it was ironic to read an almost identical article on 2 different sites one day apart..

        I just wonder is this a new semi-recurring theme (like the commercial I saw on TV recently), or is it as some others have stated, just an old recycled theme from days gone by?
        I rather vaguely recall being told similar things in the 1970’s at the height of the oil crisis….of course then it was Japan and not China who were going to take over the world economy.

        • Gilbert Mercier
          Gilbert Mercier December 7, 2010 at 9:40 am

          Hopefully, the very notion of empire will become obsolete. I don’t even think that China has any imperialistic drive to be honest. As far as similarity between my purely original article and the one published in Truth Out, it is probably because quite a few of us in the press are on the same page regarding the issue of the fall of the empire.

  6. POng peets December 7, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Had America spent more time minding its own business and dealing with its own problems, there would have never been any issues I imagine!

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