Apocalypse means the end of everything. An event so big that nothing or no one survives. The decline of America’s influence on the world stage is a kind of Apocalypse. It’s a tragedy wrapped in a failure. But, every great empire comes to an end.
Deep down we both know this country is in trouble. Still Apocalypse might seem like too strong of a word. Keep in mind I’m not saying America will cease to exist. We will continue. But we’ll play a smaller role in world affairs.
On the surface, things may seem fine. The United States remains the world’s richest country. We are the the unquestioned military superpower. We still think of ourselves as the world’s leading democracy. (The election of Trump is evidence to the contrary).
Conservatives have a far different opinion about what’s actually wrong with America. Their diagnosis is far from accurate. GOP voters want simple answers to complex questions.
These folks see themselves as part of a great country, the greatest ever created. When they look around, they realize this is no longer true and don’t know quite who to blame. When a great people begins to decline, scapegoats come in handy. In 21st century America there are plenty of those.
- Undocumented immigrants.
- Liberals in Washington.
- Too much government spending.
- The decline of Christianity.
- The assertion of LGBT rights. (Gay agenda)
- Barack Obama.
This is why Donald Trump became president in 2016. Somehow I don’t see “Cheeto Jesus” doing much to save our country. In fact he’ll make things worse. He’s already proposed an unprecedented military expansion. He wants to gut government programs that promote the health and well being of all Americans. This is not what the doctor ordered. This won’t stop America’s decline.
What Is An Empire?
An empire is a wealthy nation or state which controls territory far beyond its borders. It generally involves a powerful central nation served by lesser states. The lesser states which make up an empire can be independent countries. Semi-independent states. Or they can be colonies.
For the U.S. empire lesser states include, NATO, S.Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and of course Israel. In a political sense these countries revolve around the U.S. the way Earth revolves around the sun.
The lesser states agree to serve the empire in some way. Usually in exchange for security. Often the empire will help an unpopular government stay in power. This can be through rigged elections or other types of politcal repression.
In other cases the smaller nation agrees to host military bases. Or send their youth off to die in proxy wars. Sometimes satellite states act as a physical barrier around the “motherland”.
Imperialism has an economic face also. Colonies often provide markets for goods made by the imperial country. Sometimes the trade is one-sided or favors certain industries.
One consistent thing about empires is the fact that they come to an end. They all suffer an Apocalypse. Economic collapse. Incompetent leadership. Rebellion among lesser states. Falling to a rival. Endless greed may cause expansion that’s too quick. The thing may grow to an unmanageable size. Any of these can trigger an empire’s Apocalypse.
America is an empire founded with an eye toward expansion by any means necessary. Including genocide against native Americans and wars with both Mexico and European powers. The founding fathers said as much. George Washington once described America as an “infant” empire. Slave owner Thomas Jefferson saw his country as a potential “empire for liberty.” But, whose liberty?
Americans don’t like to think of themselves as part of an empire. But America’s borders didn’t expand by accident. The doctrine of “manifest destiny” was a driving force. Lust for land and treasure motivated the settling of this entire continent. School children learn that American expansion was different somehow. Unlike other wealthy nations, our goals were noble. We were taming a wild continent. Creating the world’s greatest civilization. Today, we claim to spread democracy and freedom. Americans think of their military as a force for good. Still conquest is conquest, no matter how its sold.
This country always denies the existence of its empire. After the 2002 invasion of Iraq, this became harder to do. Some American scholars began to talk about it with pride. Some of the more jingoistic supported the idea as good for this country and the world at large. In other words, American rule is beneficial for both the U.S. and its colonies.
The Signs Are Everywhere
Except for our military capabilities, the signs of America’s Apocalypse are everywhere. Some places you might not think to look. The most obvious ones have to do with economic and social inequality. Others are more hidden.
U.S. life expectancy dropped for the first time sine 1993. This is according to recent world health surveys. Many worsening health problems in our country caused this development.
We have the highest obesity rate. The most expensive healthcare. No universal coverage. And a high infant mortality rate.
Quality of life is another factor. Social indicators are already mediocre in comparison to other countries like ours. Trump and his D.C. cronies will only make these problems worse. They have no plans to increase spending on social welfare. They don’t want to do anything to help our environment. Efforts to improve public education are taboo with this crowd.
The quality of our physical environment will suffer under Trump‘s EPA. He wants to weaken the agency and gut environmental regulations. We’ll wind up with bad air, polluted streams and unsafe drinking water. Trump’s plan for education is also a big problem. He’s a fan of the Charter School movement. This is going to leave fewer children with access to a good education.
Of course there are other problems. An enormous federal debt. Overextended military presence. A crumbling infrastructure which Trump has pledged to rebuild. This is not to mention our toxic political environment. Public disgust and apathy with the system. And our paralyzed government.
Things got so bad that a desperate America elected a fool for president in 2016.
The Barack Obama presidency was great for the stock market. In spite of their whining about new regulations, Wall Street hit record highs. The Bush years gave us the great recession. Obama gave us a slow but steady recovery.
In the immediate aftermath of the Trump victory, an unsure Wall Street saw its value shrink. Then they realized something. The new president was going to betray the hard working folks that voted for him. In fact he was going to make life even easier for Wall Street robber barons.
In typical GOP fashion, Trump promised to remove the shackles of regulation. The laws that help protect the public from some of the worst business practices. That meddling Consumer Protection Finance Bureau was going to get chopped.
The good ole days were back. They could hardly contain their glee. So the market rallied with a vengeance.
No, Wall Street greed is not good. Unless you want to speed up the Apocalypse. The stock market is volatile. It responds to short-term trends. In other words if things are profitable at the moment then all is good.
Besides, if you’re a CEO, Trump’s promises are making your heart sing. Tax cuts. Increased military spending. Propping up Big Oil. And a huuge infrastructure plan. They love this guy!
But what happens when Trump’s trade policies crash and burn? Or when the Obama recovery finally runs out of steam? It won’t be pretty when countries targeted by tariffs respond in kind.
Filling The Void
“We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.” – Barack Obama, January 12, 2016.
There are other world powers chomping at the bit, waiting for the American Apocalypse. They recognize our true weaknesses. Our problems are definitely not related to national defense. We remain the world’s most powerful war machine. Yet Donald Trump wants to increase military spending by some ten percent.
The U.S. military budget already tops $600 billion. We are responsible for one out of every three dollars spent on the military worldwide. We spend three times more than big, bad Communist China. Meanwhile, Putin’s Russia is a distant third at under $90 billion.
It’s not that he’s trying to bring the country down, it’s that he has no idea what he’s doing. Trump couldn’t increase American power even if he wanted to. He’s in it for self-enrichment and ego. The leaders of other major countries are far more serious. And they each know what they want.
China wants to lead on trade and climate. Germany will lead on human rights. With Trump’s help, Russia will undermine NATO. Putin will re-take parts of the old Soviet Union, and become a much larger player in the Middle East.
Foreign powers couldn’t ask for a better American president than Donald Trump. They will use and abuse him to achieve their own goals. While he’s busy plundering, they’ll be taking the lead.
I realize the word Apocalypse evokes tragic imagery. But many times good follows bad: Forest fires spur new growth. A barren winter leads to springtime renewal. Death comes before rebirth.
From a historical perspective, the fall of America is inevitable. Nothing lasts forever. After the fall from grace comes a chance for revival. We will have the opportunity to restore the American Republic. Revitalize the American dream. And finally live up to our ideals.
Yes, we can be a great country without dominating the world. Some think America’s enemies envy our freedoms. Wouldn’t it be great if that were true once again? A rebuilt America could be the envy of the entire world. And the beacon of hope and freedom it has always claimed to be. The American Apocalypse doesn’t have to mean the bitter end of a great people.