Throughout history, political, financial and military leaders have sought to create empires. Westerners often think of ancient Rome as the first empire, which eventually collapsed under its own weight. Later, other empires formed for a time. Spain became an empire, courtesy of its Armada, its conquest of the New World and the gold and silver extracted from the West. Great Britain owned the nineteenth century, but lost bits empire due largely to economically destructive wars. The US took over in the 20th century and, like Rome, is now crumbling under its own weight.
Invariably, the last people to understand the collapse of an empire are those who live within it. As a British subject, I can still remember my younger years, when, even though the British Empire was well and truly over, many of my fellow Brits were still behaving in a pompous manner as though British superiority still existed. Not so, today. You can only pretend for so long.
But this does suggest that those who live within the present empire – the US – will be the last to truly understand that the game is over. They may regard the decline as a temporary setback from which they will rebound.
Not likely. Historically, once an empire has been shot from its perch, it is replaced by a rising power – one that is more productive and more forward-thinking in every way.
But the US is hanging on tenaciously and like any dying empire, its leaders are becoming increasingly ruthless both at home and abroad in hoping to keep up appearances.
Warfare is often the death-knell of a dying empire – both in the fact that it is the single most expensive activity that countries might pursue, and in its ability to alienate the peoples of other countries. In the new millennium, the US has invaded more countries than at any other time in its history and appears now to be in a state of perpetual warfare. This is being carried out both militarily and economically, as, increasingly, the US imposes economic sanctions on those it seeks to conquer.
This effort has become so threatening to the rest of the world that other major powers, even if they do not have a history of being allies, are now binding together to counter the US.
The US is encouraged in its effort by an unnatural alliance between the countries of Europe. Although Europe is made up of many small countries, often with dramatically differing cultures, who have bickered with each other for centuries, the European Union has cobbled them together into an ill-conceived “United States of Europe.”
Although the relatively new EU has already fallen to one knee and is on the verge of fragmenting, their leaders are desperately attempting to hold the unlikely alliance together with the help of the US. Like Chang and Eng, the original Siamese twins, when Eng died, Chang realised that