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Pentagon Study Declares American Empire Is ‘Collapsing’

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Pentagon Study Declares American Empire Is ‘Collapsing’

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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

This article was produced in partnership with AlterNet and Insurge Intelligence. Learn more about Nafeez Ahmed and how to support his work.

An extraordinary new Pentagon study has concluded that the US-backed framework of international order established after World War II is “fraying” and may even be “collapsing,” leading the United States to lose its position of “primacy” in world affairs.

The solution proposed to protect US power in this new “post-primacy” environment is, however, more of the same: more surveillance, more propaganda (“strategic manipulation of perceptions”) and more military expansionism.

The document concludes that the world has entered a fundamentally new phase of transformation in which US power is in decline, international order is unravelling, and the authority of governments everywhere is crumbling.

Having lost its past status of “pre-eminence,” the US now inhabits a dangerous, unpredictable “post-primacy” world, whose defining feature is “resistance to authority.”

Danger comes not just from great power rivals like Russia and China, both portrayed as rapidly growing threats to American interests, but also from the increasing risk of “Arab Spring”-style events. These will erupt not just in the Middle East, but all over the world, potentially undermining trust in incumbent governments for the foreseeable future.

The report, based on a year-long intensive research process involving consultation with key agencies across the Department of Defense and US Army, calls for the US government to invest in more surveillance, better propaganda through “strategic manipulation” of public opinion, and a “wider and more flexible” US military.

The report was published in June by the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute to evaluate the DoD’s approach to risk assessment at all levels of Pentagon policy planning. The study was supported and sponsored by the US Army’s Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate; the Joint Staff, J5 (Strategy and Policy Branch); the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Develop­ment; and the Army Study Program Management Office.

Collapse

“While the United States remains a global political, economic, and military giant, it no longer enjoys an unassailable position versus state competitors,” the report laments.

“In brief, the sta­tus quo that was hatched and nurtured by U.S. strategists after World War II and has for decades been the principal ‘beat’ for DoD is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing.”

The study’s description of this order subtly recognizes its imperial nature as one underpinned by American dominance, in which the US and its allies literally “dictate” the terms of how the system operates, to further their own interests:

“The order and its constituent parts, first emerged from World War II, were transformed to a unipolar sys­tem with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and have by-and-large been dominated by the United States and its major Western and Asian allies since. Status quo forces collectively are comfortable with their dominant role in dictating the terms of international security outcomes and resist the emergence of rival centers of power and authority.”

But this era when the US and its allies could simply get their way is over. Observing that US officials “naturally feel an obligation to preserve the U.S. global position within a favorable international order,” the report concludes that this “rules-based global order that the United States built and sustained for 7 decades is under enormous stress.”

The report provides a detailed breakdown of how the DoD perceives this order to be rapidly unravelling, with the Pentagon being increasingly outpaced by world events. Warning that “global events will happen faster than DoD is currently equipped to handle,” the study concludes that the US “can no longer count on the unassailable position of dominance, supremacy, or pre-eminence it enjoyed for the 20-plus years after the fall of the Soviet Union.”

So weakened is US power, that it can no longer even “automatically generate consistent and sustained local military superiority at range.”

It’s not just US power that is in decline. The US Army War College study concludes that:

“[A]ll states and traditional political authority structures are under increasing pressure from endogenous and exogenous forces… The fracturing of the post-Cold War global system is accompanied by the in­ternal fraying in the political, social, and economic fabric of practically all states.”

But, the document says, this should not be seen as defeatism, but rather a “wakeup call.” If nothing is done to adapt to this “post-primacy” environment, the complexity and speed of world events will “increasingly defy [DoD’s] current strategy, planning, and risk assessment conventions and biases.”

Defending the “Status Quo”

Top on the list of forces that have knocked the US off its position of global “pre-eminence,” says the report, are the role of competing powers—major rivals like Russia and China, as well as smaller players like Iran and North Korea.

The document is particularly candid in setting out why the US sees these countries as threats—not so much because of tangible military or security issues, but mainly because their pursuit of their own legitimate national interests is, in itself, seen as undermining American dominance.

Russia and China are described as “revisionist forces” who benefit from the US-dominated international order, but who dare to “seek a new distribution of power and authority commensurate with their emergence as legitimate rivals to U.S. dominance.” Russia and China, the analysts say, “are engaged in a deliberate program to demonstrate the limits of U.S. authority, will, reach, influence, and impact.”

The premise of this conclusion is that the US-backed “status quo” international order is fundamentally “favorable” for the interests of the US and its allies. Any effort to make global order also work “favorably” for anyone else is automatically seen as a threat to US power and interests.

Thus, Russia and China “seek to reorder their position in the existing status quo in ways that—at a minimum—create more favorable circumstances for pursuit of their core objectives.” At first glance there seems nothing particularly wrong about this. So the analysts emphasize that “a more maximalist perspective sees them pursuing advantage at the direct expense of the United States and its principal Western and Asian allies.”

Most conspicuous of all, there is little substantiation in the document at all of how Russia and China pose a meaningful threat to American national security.

The chief challenge is that they “are bent on revising the contemporary status quo” through the use of “gray zone” techniques, involving “means and methods falling far short of unambiguous or open provocation and conflict.”

Such “murkier, less obvious forms of state-based aggression,” despite falling short of actual violence, are condemned—but then, losing any sense of moral high-ground, the Pentagon study advocates that the US itself should “go gray or go home” to ensure US influence.

The document also sets out the real reasons that the US is hostile to “revolutionary forces” like Iran and North Korea: they pose fundamental obstacles to US imperial influence in those regions. They are:

“… neither the products of, nor are they satisfied with, the contemporary order… At a minimum, they intend to destroy the reach of the U.S.-led order into what they perceive to be their legitimate sphere of influence. They are also resolved to replace that order locally with a new rule set dictated by them.”

Far from insisting, as the US government does officially, that Iran and North Korea are threats mainly due to nuclear weapons, the document makes clear that actually they are considered threatening to the expansion of the “U.S.-led order.”

Losing the Propaganda War

Amidst the challenge posed by these competing powers, the Pentagon study emphasizes the threat from non-state forces which are undermining the “U.S.-led order” in different ways, primarily through information.

The “hyper-connectivity and weaponization of information, disinformation, and dis­affection,” the study team observes, is leading to the uncontrolled spread of information. The upshot is that the Pentagon faces the “inevitable elimination of secrecy and operational security.”

“Wide uncontrolled access to technology that most now take for granted is rapidly undermining prior advantages of discrete, secret, or covert intentions, actions, or operations… In the end, senior defense leaders should assume that all defense-related activity from minor tactical movements to major military operations would occur completely in the open from this point forward.”

This information revolution, in turn, is leading to the “generalized disintegra­tion of traditional authority structures… fueled, and/or accelerated by hyperconnectivity and the obvious decay and potential failure of the post-Cold War status quo.”

Civil Unrest

Highlighting the threat posed by groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, the study also points to “leaderless instability (e.g., Arab Spring)” as a major driver of “a generalized erosion or dissolution of traditional authority structures.” The document hints that such populist civil unrest is likely to become prominent in Western homelands, including inside the United States.

“To date, U.S. strategists have been fixated on this trend in the greater Middle East. However, the same forces at work there are similarly eroding the reach and authority of governments worldwide… it would be unwise not to recognize that they will mutate, metastasize, and manifest differently over time.”

The US homeland is flagged-up as being especially vulnerable to the breakdown of “traditional authority structures”:

“The United States and its population are increasingly exposed to substantial harm and an erosion of security from individuals and small groups of motivated actors, leveraging the conflu­ence of hyperconnectivity, fear, and increased vulner­ability to sow disorder and uncertainty. This intensely disorienting and dislocating form of resistance to author­ity arrives via physical, virtual, and psychological vio­lence and can create effects that appear substantially out of proportion to the origin and physical size or scale of the proximate hazard or threat.”

There is little reflection, however, on the role of the US government itself in fomenting such endemic distrust, through its own policies.

Bad Facts

Among the most dangerous drivers of this risk of civil unrest and mass destabilization, the document asserts, are different categories of fact. Apart from the obvious “fact-free,” which is defined as information that undermines “objective truth,” the other categories include actual truths that, however, are damaging to America’s global reputation.

“Fact-inconvenient” information consists of the exposure of “details that, by implication, un­dermine legitimate authority and erode the relationships between governments and the governed”—in other words, facts that reveal how government policy is corrupt, incompetent or undemocratic.

“Fact-perilous” information refers to basically to national security leaks from whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning, “exposing highly clas­sified, sensitive, or proprietary information that can be used to accelerate a real loss of tactical, operational, or strategic advantage.”

“Fact-toxic” information pertains to actual truths which, the document complains, are “exposed in the absence of context,” and therefore poison “important political discourse.” Such information is seen as being most potent in triggering outbreaks of civil unrest, because it:

“… fatally weakens foundational security at an international, regional, national, or personal level. Indeed, fact-toxic exposures are those likeliest to trigger viral or contagious insecurity across or within borders and between or among peoples.”

Mass Surveillance and Psychological Warfare

The Pentagon study comes up with two solutions to the information threat.

The first is to make better use of US mass surveillance capabilities, which describes as “the largest and most sophisticated and inte­grated intelligence complex in world.” The US can “generate insight faster and more reliably than its competitors can, if it chooses to do so.” Combined with its “military forward presence and power projection,” the US is “an enviable position of strength.”

Supposedly, though, the problem is that the US does not make full use of this potential strength:

“That strength, however, is only as durable as the United States’ willingness to see and employ it to its advantage. To the extent that the United States and its defense enterprise are seen to lead, others will follow…”

The document also criticizes US strategies for focusing too much on trying to defend against foreign efforts to penetrate or disrupt US intelligence, at the expense of “the purposeful exploitation of the same architecture for the strategic manipulation of perceptions and its attendant influence on political and security outcomes.”

Pentagon officials need to simply accept, therefore, that:

“… the U.S. homeland, individual American citizens, and U.S. public opinion and perceptions will increasingly become battlefields.”

Military Supremacy

Having mourned the loss of US primacy, the Pentagon report sees expanding the US military as the only option. The bipartisan consensus on military supremacism, however, is not enough. The document demands a military force so powerful it can preserve “maximum freedom of action,” and allow the US to “dictate or hold significant sway over outcomes in international disputes.”

One would be hard-pressed to find a clearer statement of imperial intent in any US Army document:

“While as a rule, U.S. leaders of both political parties have consistently committed to the maintenance of U.S. military superiority over all potential state rivals, the post-primacy reality demands a wider and more flexible military force that can generate ad­vantage and options across the broadest possible range of military demands. To U.S. political leadership, maintenance of military advantage preserves maximum freedom of action… Finally, it allows U.S. decision-makers the opportunity to dictate or hold significant sway over outcomes in international disputes in the shadow of significant U.S. military capability and the implied promise of unac­ceptable consequences in the event that capability is unleashed.”

Once again, military power is essentially depicted as a tool for the US to force, threaten and cajole other countries into submission to US demands. The very concept of ‘defense’ is thus re-framed as the capacity to use overwhelming military might to get one’s way—anything which undermines this capacity ends up automatically appearing as a threat that deserves to be attacked.

Empire of Capital

Accordingly, a core goal of this military expansionism is ensuring that the United States and its international partners have “unimpeded access to air, sea, space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum in order to underwrite their security and prosperity.”

This also means that the US must retain the ability to physically access any region it wants, whenever it wants:

“Failure of or limitations on the ability of the United States to enter and operate within key regions of the world, for example, undermine both U.S. and partner security.”

The US thus must try to minimize any “purposeful, malevolent, or incidental interruption of access to the commons, as well as critical regions, resources, and markets.”

Without ever referring directly to ‘capitalism,’ the document eliminates any ambiguity about how the Pentagon sees this new era of “Persistent Conflict 2.0”: “… some are fighting globalization and globalization is also actively fighting back. Combined, all of these forces are rending at the fabric of security and stable governance that all states aspire to and rely on for survival.”

This is a war, then, between US-led capitalist globalization, and anyone who resists it. And to win it, the document puts forward a combination of strategies: consolidating the US intelligence complex and using it more ruthlessly; intensifying mass surveillance and propaganda to manipulate US and global popular opinion; expanding US military power and reach to ensure access to “strategic regions, markets, and resources.”

Even so, the overarching goal is somewhat more modest: to prevent the US-led order from collapsing further:

“…. while the favorable U.S.-dominated status quo is under significant internal and external pressure, adapted American power can help to forestall or even reverse outright failure in the most critical regions.”

The hope is that the US will be able to fashion “a remodeled but nonetheless still favorable post-primacy international order.”

Narcissism

Like all US Army War College publications, the document states that it does not necessarily represent the official position of the US Army or DoD. While this caveat means that its findings cannot be taken to formally represent the US government, the document does also admit that it represents “the collective wisdom” of the numerous officials consulted.

In that sense, the document is a uniquely insightful window into the mind of the Pentagon, and how embarrassingly limited its cognitive scope really is.

Launched in June 2016 and completed in April 2017, the US Army War College research project involved extensive consultation with officials across the Pentagon, including representatives of the joint and service staffs, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM); U.S. Forces, Japan (USFJ), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Intelligence Council, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), and U.S. Army Pacific [US­ARPAC] and Pacific Fleet [PACFLT]).

The study team also consulted with a handful of American think-tanks of a somewhat neoconservative persuasion: the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the RAND Corporation, and the Institute for the Study of War.

No wonder, then, that its findings and conclusions are so myopic. The research methodology manages to systematically ignore the most critical evidence surrounding the drivers that are behind the myriad forces the study pinpoints as undermining US primacy: such as, for instance, the biophysical processes of climate, energy and food disruption behind the Arab Spring; the confluence of military violence, fossil fuel interests and geopolitical alliances behind the rise of ISIS; or the fundamental grievances that have driven a breakdown in trust with governments since the 2008 financial collapse and the ensuing ongoing period of neoliberal economic failure.

In this context, the study’s conclusions are less a reflection of the actual state of the world, than of the way the Pentagon sees itself and the world. Indeed, most telling of all is the document’s utter inability to recognize the role of the Pentagon itself in systematically pursuing a wide range of policies over the last several decades which have contributed directly to the very instability it now wants to defend against.

The Pentagon frames itself as existing outside the Hobbesian turmoil that it conveniently projects onto the world—the result is a monumental and convenient rejection of any sense of responsibility for what happens in the world.

It is no surprise then that even the Pentagon’s apparent conviction in the inexorable decline of US power could well be overblown.

According to Dr. Sean Starrs of MIT’s Center for International Studies, a true picture of US power cannot be determined solely from national accounts. We have to look at the accounts of transnational corporations.

Starrs shows that American transnational corporations are vastly more powerful than their competitors. His data suggests that American economic supremacism remains at an all-time high, and still unchallenged even by an economic powerhouse like China.

This does not necessarily discredit the Pentagon’s emerging recognition that US imperial power now faces a new era of decline and unprecedented volatility.

But it does suggest that the Pentagon’s sense of US global pre-eminence is very much bound up with its capacity to project American capitalism globally.

As geopolitical rivals agitate against US economic reach, and as new movements emerge hoping to undermine American “unimpeded access” to global resources and markets, what’s clear is that DoD officials see anything which competes with or undermines American capitalism as a clear and present danger.

This article was produced in partnership with AlterNet and Insurge Intelligence. Learn more about Nafeez Ahmed and how to support his work.

Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist and international security scholar. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his former work at the Guardian. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the scifi thriller novel Zero Point, among other books.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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19 Comments

  1. I of John July 22, 2017

    America does not have an empire nor should it ever. Democracy does not lend itself to empires at any rate. To be sure, American power and influence are waining but that was always going to be the outcome after the cold war. We did, though, have a short window of dominance where our views would be more prominent and our values were those of a philosophical winner. America and her allies did forge alliances and democratic structures to bring about stability and the rule of law to the world in that time. We should not have been surprised, though, that our prominence would someday recede. Since we have no interest in governing the world we were betting that the world would grow to the point where it could govern itself through mutual decision. America’s position then was to remain the arbiter of the common good and upholder of principle. We were the good example of the proper humanitarian state. We were the can-do engine of change and the good friend and ally. When people rant and shout at the falling of the American Empire then they are really deluding themselves. We were never Rome nor ancient Greece. We never had any intention on imposing our collective will on others but only to offer our way of life as a better choice than totalitarianism in any of its many forms. We have failed at one thing, however, we are failing to be the good friend and ally we once were. We are not living up to being the great example of humanitarian liberty we always have been. Since when have we turned away people seeking a better life? Why are we so narrow and bigoted now? This is where we fail because we fail to be good Americans.

    Reply
    1. Phil Christensen July 22, 2017

      Lost of good points here. What are your thoughts on immigration, since you mentioned it? I am really concerned with what appears to be a binary debate (all or nothing) taking place nationally.

      Reply
      1. FireBaron July 22, 2017

        I think we should deport all anchor babies, starting with the children of Fred Trump’s illegal immigrant wife. Oh, wait. Maybe we could stop with just the oldest surviving son.

        Reply
      2. I of John July 24, 2017

        We just need to get back to a regular screening process with a system that is viable enough to work with people in a timely manner. We can not cut the world off or leave the spigot open wide and unattended. Is moderation so difficult for us?

        Reply
    2. FireBaron July 22, 2017

      John, we may not have had an interest in governing the world, but much of the US policy from the late 40s through the late 70s was aimed specifically at removing those heads of state of “non-aligned” nations who were not positively disposed towards our vision of what the world should be. Thus or failure to recognize the legitimacies of the elections in Iran and Chile that brought socialist leaders to power, our support of France’s failure to recognize the plebiscite in Indochina that recognized Ho Chi Minh as the leader of the Vietnamese people, and other instances, including the support of the Vietnamese coup that put Nguyen Cao Ky into power.
      And our history with our supposed allies is even worse. We supported Marcos in the Philippines until it was no longer convenient to support him. We supported Saddam Hussein, as long as he was fighting Iran, until it was no longer convenient to support him. We supported the Apartheid government of South Africa, until it was no longer convenient to support it. We supported Somoza until it was no longer convenient to support him, although we never really supported Ortega. So, if I were a head of state that the United States came to with an outstretched hand offering to help, I would want to take a real close look at the hand behind his back.

      Reply
      1. I of John July 24, 2017

        We have over played our hand to be sure. We played at nation building and micromanaging just like the British and other colonial powers used to. Although we may have had noble intentions, we often got in over our heads and made matters worse. Most of that covert silliness was done out of cold war fear but our recent micromanaging forays have no such excuse. I hope we have learned our lesson by now. In some way then having the rest of the world assert itself will cause us to be more circumspect about such interference. I hope.

        Reply
    3. Jim Samaras July 22, 2017

      I believe the fact that many of the “new” immigrants are of the muslim religion who follow Sharia and is in itself a form of government which goes against all of our principles and it scares the bejesus out of them.

      Reply
      1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 23, 2017

        Jim, you have no principles to speak of other than a principle to set yourself apart from others. You speak in a classic manner of a racist and the eugenicists of the past. You’re better suited for bygone eras of crass ignorance and the persistent urge to set yourself apart from your fellow human beings. Must you persist in portraying yourself as a human enamored with the satanic impulse to be apart rather than aspire to the “godly” attitude of wanting to be as one with your fellow human beings?

        Well, Jim—Which do you prefer?? And by the way, Christians have committed more rapacious acts than all of the Muslims of today have committed. But that doesn’t reflect on Christianity but on the deviation of its followers, like yourself. Not all Muslims think and act the same as you’d like to believe, just like all black folks aren’t necessarily cool or intellectual, or that all whites are great dancers and great at athletics.

        Reply
        1. Jim Samaras July 23, 2017

          Aaron, you really know nothing of my principles other than being an American citizen where capitalism and Christianity have guided us to be set apart from the rest. I know your ideology hates that fact but it is the truth. Other than our opposite view on politics I believe we could have a conversation that would change your opinion on my principles and may be surprised at my leanings toward my fellow man.

          While I grew up in a Christian day school I’ve come to believe more in alien forces than the fictitious man in the sky. This is the 21st century not the 15th. Christians want everyone to get along.

          Not all Muslims are bad but enough are to be a danger to our way of life with the help of people like you a the MSM. Whites great dancers? Hmmm….Blacks all intellectual? Hmmmm…..but don’t tell me they ain’t all cool……lol

          Reply
          1. I of John July 24, 2017

            I do not find the christians just want to just get along with everyone else. Christianity can be quite arrogant and overly imposing.

            Reply
          2. Jim Samaras July 24, 2017

            Ignorance permeates every religion and sector John

            Reply
      2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 23, 2017

        And another thing, Jim. Your ideas and impressions scare the bejesus out of people, and I personally find your way of thinking reprehensible and a source of danger for all humanity, just like Trump’s attitudes and ideas.

        Reply
      3. I of John July 24, 2017

        Most immigrants are excaping their old lives for a reason. Freedom from strict Sharia is often the most motivating.

        Reply
        1. Jim Samaras July 24, 2017

          Most is true but enough want to bring it with them that should frighten the most liberal viewpoint

          Reply
  2. Phil Christensen July 22, 2017

    $20T national debt. No one really needs a study to understand that the influence of the United States is on the wane.

    Reply
    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 22, 2017

      Thank you, Einstein, for stating the obvious. Would you care to tax your brain(a painful exercise admittedly), and explore the collapse described in the article in better detail, beyond a trite assessment?? And by the way, the debt you miraculously are aware of, is largely due to factors described in the article.

      Reply
  3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 22, 2017

    Another potent article that stirs up a lot of thoughts which we all should ponder and elaborate on to the best of our individual abilities. More on this later.

    Reply
  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 22, 2017

    First, a definition:

    Materialism—“a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.”
    And in terms as a philosophy, materialism is “the doctrine that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications.”

    The latter reference is what motivated our “African” European brethren to be steered towards trends of thought that stressed more our material nature than our higher spiritual nature. Leading to such trains of thoughts as “Existentialism”, which emphasizes the individual as being outside the influence and independent of what is referred to as God in the English tongue. An “Unknowable Essence”, as Baha’u’llah refers to the Creator, is a better way of relating to this Entity.
    ———————————————————————————————————–

    This article describes the recognition by the Pentagon, belatedly, that a major unraveling of America is taking place, but better late than never. Although Baha’u’llah perceived this much earlier, while announcing a new Revelation(“”The Baha’i Faith”) in 1863, it’s only beginning to dawn on the rest of us that a major breakdown is occurring, and has been since the middle of the 19th century.

    The Pentagon at least has the perspicacity, delayed, to recognize a pattern that touches on a subject at the heart of the delusions of many Americans and our leadership on all levels. And Trump, Steve Bannon, Putin, Xi Jinping, and others with strong nationalist tendencies and dreams of expansion, are as yet still unaware of the forces of decadence and moral decay which nationalism and expansionist dreams bring on in this current day and age. Both outlooks are quaint antiquated aspirations out of place in today’s world, and represent a sort of adolescent way of looking at humanity and its current needs.

    As we all know, history is littered with expired empires—from that of the Romans, the Mongol Horde, the Umayyads and Abbasids during the heyday of Islam when its influence stretched from Andulasia in the Spain to the Far East, and down into Nigeria; the rulers of Ghana and Mali established brilliant empires before Islam made its influence felt; and in the Antiquities we had the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, the Persians, the early empire in what is now Zimbabwe, etc. Where are they now, and what led to their demise?

    Well, they are no more, just footnotes, and they all suffered demise due to losing their sense of social equilibrium and developing a materialist focus that was allowed to overshadow the spiritual impulses of those centered around a religion; for those which were purely militaristic and not having contributed anything in the way of an enlightened civilization, the downfall was due more to becoming morally lax and excessive in the lust to acquire more than they could control.

    Each empire, regardless of whether having an original spiritual impetus, or just a physical urge to conquer neighbors due to superior weaponry and an urge to acquire territory, fell prey eventually to the forces of materialism and weakness of character in the leaders and the average citizen. Rome and the Abbasids offer graphic examples of how an empire is brought down, first by lack of moral restraint and an increase in the pleasures of an over-sensuous orientation. When that influence spread, in Rome for example, the soldiers and leaders became soft and lost the ability to be vigilant and mentally alert, which opened the way for internal bickering and tensions over who should have the upper hand among the various military and political leaders in Rome. Thus opening the door for the barbarian tribes in the north to descend on Rome and sack it eventually—“Nero fiddled while Rome burned” comes to mind, as well as the excesses of such as Sallust and Caligula.

    Trump and Bannon are good examples in America of what happens when a materialist influence gains the upper hand over the spiritual aspect of our dual nature.
    As well, many Americans have become so accustomed to being soft and lacking a sense of the importance of a moral strength, from so many material advantages and general ease of life. To the point that we’re mimicking the same sort of traits and sensual pleasures and emphasis on acquiring stuff that consumed the likes of Greeks, Umayyads, the Golden Horde, the Persians and the rulers of Mali.

    Unless this inordinate fascination with sensual pleasures and emphasis on other materialist aspects is controlled, America will decay utterly, not from without but from within. Again, Trump and Bannon illustrate this decay in an alarming manner, as does so many of our politicians, CEO’s, and others in positions of power down to the level of ordinary citizens. Many of the youth are showing the same ominous trends.

    Reply
  5. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 23, 2017

    The leading powers, including America, are deluding themselves by thinking that expansionism and throwing one’s weight around will be successful in the long run.
    If these powers are only interested in short-term gain, this is a monumental waste of time and a waste of resources. Time and resources need to be put to better use, like learning to leave the preoccupations with dominance in the past where such goals better suited our more primitive animal impulses to gain territory and always aiming to garner the lion’s share of wealth and military superiority—impulses that befit our less refined stages of evolution.

    Reply

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