Will the American Empire Crumble?

It looks like Max Boot is not the only person who is convinced that the world is turning into an American Empire. While I previously thought the concept of an American Empire to be revolutionary and innovative, it looks like Chalmers Johnson and more political minds are actually working in cooperation with each other to warn humankind of the United States ’ growing military dominance over the entire world. Interestingly enough, over 200 years ago, George Washington stated his opinion on ultimately what is happening now; President Washington said, “Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican liberty”. George Washington’s ancient words ultimately summarize what political theorists such as Johnson and Boot are trying to say. Adversely, in 2002, The National Security Strategy of the United States favorably referred to the United States ’ undeniable presence all over the globe by stating,

“The presence of American forces overseas is one of the most profound symbols of the U.S. commitments to allies and friends. Through our willingness to use force in our own defense and in defense of others, the United States demonstrates its resolve to maintain a balance of power that favors freedom”.

Should we trust the words of the present, or is history in the process of repeating itself, making it logical to use the words of a President who led our country over 200 years ago?

Johnson wrote that the United States has “undergone a transformation from republic to empire that may well prove irreversible”. It is understandable that many people are worried about what is referred to as the United States ’ growing military dominance over the entire world. It is hard to deny facts, and in this case, the bare facts are truly eye opening. Currently, there are 725 official U.S. military bases—and that is outside of the United States, as well as 969 publicly known bases within the United States . Chalmers Johnson’s writings indicate that he feels that the rise of American militarism is proof that the “United States prefers to deal with other nations through the use or threat of force rather than negotiations, commerce or cultural interaction”. It is rather daunting to learn that there are such a significant number of U.S. military bases throughout the world, that is if going by the words of President Washington; however, if trusting the concept put forth by The National Security Strategy of the United States then the facts should actually be reassuring.

Every History and Political Science teacher I have ever had has continuously lived by the very fact that history does repeat itself; while I do not whole-heartedly agree with everything Johnson has to say in his work, The Sorrows of Empire, I do recall learning that while every empire rises, it also has to fall—it’s nearly comparable to a roller coaster because the uphill climb cannot last forever. Johnson puts forth irrefutable facts such as that the United States has a bigger military than the next 12 biggest militaries in the world, combined; as well as the fact that Russia has the second largest military budget in the world, and their budget is only 14% of the United States’ military budget. These facts do nothing less than cause a sense of anxiety to those who read and absorb them. Embarrassingly, I had no idea that numbers these large existed. Is it wrong to at least feel fortunate that I’m not a citizen of a nation that the United States is currently against?

Many critics voice that the United States should mind its’ own business, but at the same time the whole world expects the United States to intervene when there are international issues, or provide the most aid when natural disasters in places other than the United States’ territory occur.

Historically, Americans have had a responsibility to free foreign nations from any negative positions they have been put in, especially if the result is greater freedom. The United States of America is a true hegemon– the United States is the largest economy and has the most powerful military. In turn, the world expects the United States to battle terrorists, provide aid for natural disasters, and ultimately save the world.

Johnson also points out that while many critics of the Bush Administration think that the administration is too concerned with obtaining and protecting oil, as well as fighting terrorism—the United States is actually more concerned with dominating space; after understanding Johnson’s point, I see exactly what he is saying. While the word ‘empire’ is commonplace in my vocabulary, I looked up what exactly an empire is. The definition stated that an empire is “a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority”; as well as “an extensive territory or enterprise under single domination or control”.

Returning to the Romans and history repeating itself, I think it is beneficial to look at what made the Roman Empire fall the way it did. The Roman Empire became huge, the strongest and most powerful in the world. The Romans took everything for granted, and expected that since their empire was on top, they would forever remain that way. The Roman Empire fell because its political make-up left it unable to defend itself against invasion of any kind. The Roman Empire was under strict rule, the citizens as a whole were not united and many people were in opposition to that rule. Many Romans lacked nationalism, and did not feel that the Roman Empire was worth protecting.

The fall of the Roman Empire rings overwhelmingly similar to the United States’ current situation. The United States , recently deemed responsible for turning the world into an ‘American Empire’ is a hegemon ahead of every other country in almost every arena possible. A lot of spectators feel that the United States assumes it will remain on top, however critics have analyzed and compared the United States to tragedies such as the fall of the Roman Empire . The United States has the most powerful and largest military that is currently occupying the majority of the world, the question is, would the United States actually be able to protect itself against any invasion? Are all of our citizens united? Or better yet, are they still divided because of the current administration’s decisions, as well as the outcome of the 2004 presidential election? The United States has all of the ingredients for the recipe for downfall, can the downfall of the hegemon in of which we live be stopped, or at least halted? Chalmers Johnson does not think either are possible, and the scary thing is, that he is not the only political mind who feels that way.

Originally authored by Christina Prevot

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