Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Fall of the American Empire

This may seem like an odd time for this post, but the scenes of flooding, looting, shooting, and general mayhem that have become the primary headline in the wake of the hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans have brought to mind a theory that has been ruminating in my brain for quite some time now. I try to avoid political discussion on here because it polarizes people so quickly and gets folks so worked up that it’s just not worth the flames that ensue. That being said, here goes…

While most of the world considers the United States to be the big bad bully on the block, the last surviving superpower who tries to shape the world into its mould, I believe that we are beginning to see the early stages of the fall of America. I have thought this since the late 90's but since 9/11 it seems to me that the timeline just continues to accelerate.

My reasons for this theory? Several. When you consider the great empires and civilizations throughout human history (particularly the Roman Empire of 31 BC – 476 AD), there are several trends that surface that are very similar to where the U.S. stands today. In no particular order:

1) A heavy reliance on non-renewable natural resources that makes them dependant on foreign producers to keep their economy rolling. Just imagine how quickly the U.S. economy would grind to a halt if OPEC decided to turn off the tap.
2) An isolationist foreign policy that essentially thumbs its nose at the concerns of the rest of the world. Can you say Kyoto, Salt II, and softwood lumber?
3) A military stretched to the breaking point deployed on too many fronts. As of January 2005 there are 250,000 American troops in 130 different countries, including, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan.
4) Consumption, consumption, consumption – it’s all about what we want now. Screw the future. I actually heard a report the other day that the #1 complaint against U.S. grocery store chains is not enough selection. Sick.
5) Rapid moral and ethical decay from within. Witness as just one example the unleashing of evil in the aftermath of Katrina. Or consider the obsession with celebrity culture that fills the airwaves with mindless gossip and endless chatter about Brad Pitt's marriage or Jessica Simpson's butt. It’s all rot.
6) A multi-trillion dollar national debt that grows on a daily basis.
7) A leadership that is more concerned about international affairs than the status of its own citizens. War on terror? How about a war on poverty.
8) Christians who have confused loyalty to Christ with loyalty to a flag.
9) Natural disasters that the country is unprepared for and unable to deal with. An entire city is gone people!

While I point all of these things out, I do not write this with joy or any sense of superiority. We Canadians are so eager to see the big southern bully knocked down a notch or two; but think about how your career will change when you no longer have our largest trading partner right next door. Think too about your sense of security when we no longer have the U.S. to rely on for our national defence. As well, though the scales may be tipping, I still believe the U.S. is a greater force for good than evil in the world.

Frankly, I give America another 25-40 years before it is no longer capable of wielding any kind of major political influence in the world. Both literally and metaphorically, the levee has broken and the flood waters are rising.


Anonymous said...

As an American.....I agree. It saddens me to say this, but it it's true. A lot of us feel that we don't kneed to be fighting any more. We don't WANT to be there.
Everyday it feels like more and more is going wrong in this country. Either gas prices (which I really shouldn't complain about, as ours is one of the lowest at $2.89/gallon), or the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and the list could honestly go on forever.
Thank you, for not making everyone down here sound like pricks. :)
Tiffany Wilson

James said...

Well-put, Brad. Have you read Harper's lately? There was a great article by Bill McKibben in the August issue. Read an excerpt here: