Since forever, people have subjugated each other to demand labor or resources. A monarchic or centralized power that subjugates several other peoples is an empire.
Half a dozen European empires expanded into the Americas during the Age of Exploration. With the help of infectious disease, these powers defeated lots of local tribes, and some larger groups. Best known are Spain's conquests of the Aztec empire in Tenochtitlán and the Incan empire in Cuzco.
Did other American empires also fall to the Europeans?
Some specific exclusions as I understand them: the Iroquois Confederacy was an important power but association in it was voluntary. The Taíno and Tupi cultures were widely distributed but had no central government to conquer. The Chimú empire was conquered by the Incas shortly before Europeans arrived.
The Tarascan State was also a powerful, centralized empire, occupying about 100,000 km2 northwest of the Aztec Empire. They were enemies of the Aztecs, who could never conquer them. They were subdued by /allied to the Spaniards peacefully around 1520 and were more violently subjugated in 1530.
I don't think I remember that since 1500 onwards there were more native political entities in the American continent that were sufficiently centralized so that they could be called "empires".
Did other American empires also fall to the Europeans? - History
Alright Im gonna give you 4 theories on the fall of Roman empire
1.The Moral theory:
Some scientists have claimed that christianity destroyed the Roman thinking and philosophy when christians emphasized forbearence, modesty and piety. This Theory thinks that the cause of the fall of Rome was a cultural crisis which lead to ideological crisis.
2. Economic and social theory:
When Roman empire expanded to everywhere, they didn't have enough men to control those provinces. They had to hire officials and army from those provinces and these officials and army officers didn't internalized the roman system. The empire was "barbarianised" from inside and it was easy to conquer by barbarians. And when barbarians pushed forward, Rome didn't find any solutions for the economic ways to solve the economic crisis, monetary systems collapse and technology didn't advance.
3. Political theory:
In the late of the second century the struggle for power between politicians and families extented to almost a ciwil war, in which were wasted a lot of resources. Armies became a great political power and emperors were dependent on them. The lack of powerful leader weakened the Rome, which eventually caused the fall of Roman empire.
4. The illness theory
As someone on this thread already said the aquaduckts were made partially from lead. The lead poison from water weaken the roman thinking however the archeologists haven't found dangerous amounts of lead in roman bodies. The plague in second century is believed also to caused the weaken the agrarian and economy.
The one single event that most was responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire was the war with Attila and the Huns. They originated in China and eventually left there and migrated to the valley of the Volga. Once there, they began warring with the neighboring peoples, eventually conquering the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths. The Hunnic Empire continued to grow rapidly as it conquered many of the smaller civilizations in their area. However, it still did not pose a serious threat to the Roman Empire at the time.
A Hunnic Confederacy was formed in 420 AD. This Confederacy survived on tribute and plunder from other civilizations, and by this time their empire stretched from the Caspian to the Baltic. Then, in 445 AD, a man named Attila murderd his brother Bleda, and took control of the Hunnic Empire. They had both been co-leaders of the Hunnic Confederacy until Bleda's murder. The bulk of the Hunnic Empire still survived on plunder and tribute for survival.
In 447 AD, Attila decided it was time to invade Eastern Europe. In this period, the Hunnic victories in Eastern Europe may have had the greatest impact of all in demoralizing the Roman Empire. After conquering most of Eastern Europe, and gaining further plunder and tribute to sustain his growing Hunnic empire, he led the Huns in an invasion of Western Europe.
A man by the name of Aëtius, a warlord of the Roman Empire under Emperor Valentinian III (although some say Aëtius really controlled the Empire), assembled a confederacy to face the growing threat of Attila and his Huns. The confederacy was mainly composed of Romano-Germanic peoples, Franks, and Visigoths (who suffered earlier at the hands of the Huns). The Huns and the Romans finally clashed in one large battle.
In 451 AD, Attila and his Hunnic armies met Aëtius and his newly assembled confederacy at what is known as the Catalaunian Fields. The two forces fought it out but before too long Aëtius' confederacy had nearly beaten most of the Hunnic armies. He had the chance to finish off the Huns once and for all, but he believe that if he did, the Visigoths in his confederacy would turn and overrun the Roman Gaul, a territory of the Roman Empire. Facing this choice, he let the Huns escape. This proved to be the biggest and most disasterous mistake of his career.
As the Huns escaped from the battle at the Catalaunian Fields, they turned and headed toward the capital of the Roman Empire, Milan. Attila and his Hunnic army laid waste to almost all of Northern Italy. When the Hunnic armies finally arrived at the walls of Rome itself, Attila was told of a growing threat back in the Eastern Empire and retreated to confront it.
Attila had planned on destroying Constantinople, but in 453 AD Attila suffered a nose bleed while drunk and passed-out. The blood entered his throat and suffocated him. Without Attila, the Huns had no real leadership and the empire fell apart quickly. The Western Roman Empire, however, was never able to recover from the Huns' invasion, and they quickly fell victim to the babarians. What remained of the Huns assembled in south-eastern Europe. There they ruled over the Slavs of the area. They soon found a new Empire that was a major threat to the Byzantines for many hundreds of years. They became known as the Bulgars.
Like Rome Before the Fall? Not Yet
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN complains that he is being driven crazy because so many people are betting on America’s demise. Reports of it are not just exaggerated they are, he insists, ridiculous. Like President Obama, he will not accept “second place” for the United States. Despite the present crippling budget deficit and the crushing burden of projected debt, he denies that the country is destined to fulfill a “prophecy that we are going to be a great nation that has failed because we lost control of our economy and overextended.”
Mr. Biden was referring in particular to the influential book “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” by Paul Kennedy, a British historian who teaches at Yale. Published in 1988, the book argues that the ascendancy of states or empires results from the superiority of their material resources, and that the wealth on which that dominance rests is eroded by the huge military expenditures needed to sustain national or imperial power, leading inexorably to its decline and fall. The thesis seems a tad schematic, but Professor Kennedy maintains it with dazzling cogency. In any debate about the development of the United States, one would certainly tend to side with the detached historian rather than the partisan politician.
All too often, however, students of the past succumb to the temptation to foretell the future. For reasons best known to himself, for example, the eminent British historian A. J. P. Taylor predicted that the Second World War would reach its climax in the Spanish port of Vigo. Equally preposterous in its way was Francis Fukuyama’s claim that the conclusion of the cold war marked the end of ideological evolution, “the end of history.”
When indulging his own penchant for prophecy, Paul Kennedy too proved sadly fallible. In his book, he wrote that Japan would not stagnate and that Russia, clinging to Communism, would not boom economically by the early 21st century. Of course, Professor Kennedy did not base his forecasts on runes or entrails or stars. He weighed the available evidence and extrapolated from existing trends. He studied form, entered suitable caveats and hedged his bets. In short, he relied on sophisticated guesswork. However, the past is a map, not a compass. It charts human experience, stops at the present and gives no clear sense of direction. History does not repeat itself nor, as Arnold Toynbee would have it, does it proceed in rhythms or cycles. Events buck trends. Everything, as Gibbon said, is subject to “the vicissitudes of fortune.”
Still, history is our only guide. It is natural to seek instruction from it about the trajectory of earlier great powers, especially at a time when the weary American Titan seems to be staggering under “the too vast orb of its fate.” This phrase (loosely taken from Matthew Arnold) was used by the British politician Joseph Chamberlain to depict the plight of his nation in 1902. The country had indeed suffered a severe setback during its South African war and its global supremacy was under threat from mighty rivals in the United States and Germany. Yet the British Empire was at its apogee.
Paradoxically, the larger great powers grow, the more they worry about their vulnerability. Rudyard Kipling wrote this elegy to the empire, of which he was unofficial poet laureate, to mark its most spectacular pageant, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Far-called, our navies melt away
On dunes and headlands sinks the fire
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Aptly quoting these lines exactly a century later, when Britain gave up its last major colony, Hong Kong, this newspaper’s editorial page noted that the queen’s empire had been relegated to the history books the United States had become the heir to Rome.
Now doom-mongers conjure with Roman and British analogies in order to trace the decay of American hegemony. In so doing they ignore Gibbon’s warning about the danger of comparing epochs remote from one another. It is obviously possible to find striking similarities between the predicament of Rome and that of Washington (itself modeled on classical lines, incidentally, because it aspired to be the capital of a mighty empire). Overstretch is common to both, for example: Rome defended frontiers on the Tigris, the Danube and the Rhine America’s informal empire, controlled diplomatically, commercially and militarily, girdles the globe.
But the differences are palpable. The Roman economy depended on agriculture whereas the United States has an enormous industrial base, producing nearly a quarter of the world’s manufactured goods, and dominates the relatively new invention of the service economy.
Rome was prone to internecine strife whereas America is constitutionally stable. Rome was overwhelmed by barbarians whereas America’s armed forces are so powerful as to prompt dreams of what is known in military doctrine as “full spectrum dominance.” Even in an age of terrorism and nuclear proliferation, it is hard to visualize an attack on America as devastating as that inflicted by Vandals, Goths and Huns on Rome.
Similarly, the British Empire was a weak empire. It was acquired thanks to certain temporary advantages, and run on a shoestring. It governed the multitudes of India with 1,250 civil servants, and garrisoned its African colonies with a thousand policemen and soldiers, not one above the rank of colonel. The thin white line often broke under pressure.
Then Britain lost a whole generation of empire-builders during the First World War, and was virtually bankrupted by the Second. It was bailed out by the United States, which briefly sustained the British Empire as an auxiliary in the cold war. But its status as no more than a client was amply demonstrated in 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower cracked the whip and stopped the Anglo-French invasion of Suez. The empire was quickly dismembered, its ghost surviving as the Commonwealth.
Stemming from a tiny island, the British Empire was once described as an oak tree in a plant pot. American dominion, by contrast, is rooted in a bountiful continent. But does not the organic metaphor imply that states, like other living things, will inevitably deteriorate and die? This suggestion was convincingly denied by Lord Palmerston, the champion of the Victorian “gunboat diplomacy” that brought China to its knees. To compare that country to a sick man or an old tree was an “utterly unphilosophical mistake,” he said, since a nation could adopt mechanical means of self-renovation. This, needless to say, China has done.
Despite its grave problems, there are some relatively simple steps America could take to recover its position. It could bring its military commitments into line with its resources, rely more on the “soft power” of diplomacy and economic engagement and, as George Washington said, take advantage of its geographically detached situation to “defy material injury from external annoyance.” Such a policy would permit more investment in productive enterprise and pay for butter as well as guns, thus vindicating Joe Biden’s faith in the recuperative capacities of the Great Republic.
On the other hand, Paul Kennedy may well be right to predict that the United States will shrink relatively in wealth, and therefore power, as its Asian and European rivals grow. Such contractions can be traumatic, as suggested by the experience of Britain, which, as Dean Acheson said, lost an empire without finding a role.
However, the British now tend to echo the historian Lord Macaulay, who said that the end of their physical empire would be the proudest day in their history if they left behind “the imperishable empire” of their arts and their morals, their literature and their laws. In other words, national self-esteem should not stem from global might but from cultural values and achievements. Faced by the prospect of decline, Americans could hardly do better than to cling to the noblest traditions of their own civilization.
The Fall of the German Empire
The first modern German empire was announced by Otto von Bismarck at Versailles in 1871 it died on the Western Front in 1918. The second German empire was forged in a swift march of annexations and blitzkriegs it lasted seven terrible years, from the Anschluss to the bunker, and died with Hitler and his cult.
The third German empire is a different animal altogether. Repudiating both militarism and racist mysticism, it has been built slowly and painstakingly across three generations, in cooperation with other powers (including its old enemies the French), using a mix of democratic and bureaucratic means. Today Germany bestrides its Continent, but German power is wielded softly, indirectly, implicitly — and when the fist is required, it takes the form of fiscal ultimatums, not military bluster or racial irredentism.
But still the system is effectively imperial in many ways, with power brokers in Berlin and Brussels wielding not-exactly-democratic authority over a polyglot, multiethnic, multireligious sprawl of semi-sovereign nation-states. And thinking about the European Union this way, as a Germanic empire as well as a liberal-cosmopolitan project, is a helpful way of understanding how it might ultimately fall.
The possibility of such a fall has been haunting the Continent since the Great Recession, as the sense of crisis, the threat of dissolution, has spread from the Balkan periphery to an increasingly nationalist Eastern Europe and a Brexit-chasing Britain. Now with the near-takeover of Italy’s government by a populist coalition, it has reached the original European Union project’s core.
As this crisis has developed and encompassed grievances beyond the economic — immigration and national identity above all — it has been covered more and more as a clash between liberalism and illiberalism, between freedom and authoritarianism. In the wave of liberalism-in-peril books written since Donald Trump’s election, the European and American experiences tend to get folded together into a story of democratic values threatened by ethnic chauvinism and would-be strongmen — by Putin imitators, to borrow a common trope, who want to use the democratic part of liberal democracy as a ladder up to power and then burn away the liberal part.
This story has some truth to it. There are ideological affinities as well as funding streams linking Moscow and many of the nationalists to Russia’s west, and the most empowered populist within the European Union, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, is explicit about his intent to replace liberal democracy with a form of “Christian democracy” that looks suspiciously like de facto one-party rule.
But if the test of Europe’s unity feels like a test for liberal democracy, it’s a mistake to see it only in those terms. It is also a struggle of nations against empire, of the Continent’s smaller countries against German mastery and Northern European interests, in which populist parties are being elected to resist policies the center sought to impose upon the periphery without a vote. And the liberal aspect of the European system wouldn’t be under such strain if the imperial aspect hadn’t been exploited unwisely by leaders in the empire’s German core.
This disastrous imperial dynamic was first manifest in the fiscal policy imposed on Southern Europe in the wake of the Great Recession — a policy that manifestly made more sense for Germany’s economy than for Italy’s or Spain’s or Greece’s, even as it was confidently presented by German bankers as a hardheaded necessity that no merely national government could be permitted to reject.
Then the same dynamic repeated itself on immigration, when Angela Merkel took it upon herself to make migration policy for the Continent, in atonement for Germany’s racist past and in the hopes of revitalizing its aging society. The resistance from other Europeans to her open door to refugees and migrants, the refusal to let the German chancellor and her admirers determine immigration policy, is one reason among many that populists won the Brexit referendum and find themselves on the cusp of power in Italy — and it’s the major reason that populist parties rule today in Budapest and Warsaw.
Two recent essays make this point well a short piece by Branko Milanovic, a former lead economist for the World Bank, and a longer one by Damir Marusic, the executive editor of The American Interest. Here is Milanovic, describing the belt of Eastern European countries stretching from the Baltic to the Aegean, most of which happily joined the European Union but have since found themselves in tensions with its core:
When one draws a line from Estonia to Greece … one notices that all currently existing countries along that axis were during the past several centuries (and in some cases, the past half-millenium) squeezed by the empires: German (or earlier by Prussia) Russian, Hapsburg, and Ottoman. All these countries fought, more or less continuously, to free themselves from the imperial pressure … their histories are practically nothing but unending struggles for national and religious emancipation.
Most of these nations, Milanovic continues, experienced the events of 1989 primarily as a national liberation, and only secondarily as a victory for liberal principles over totalitarian or authoritarian alternatives. And the nation-states that emerged from ’89 tended to be ethnically homogeneous and proudly so, with their political independence and sense of shared identity inextricably linked.
So it should not be surprising that countries so recently emancipated would embrace the project of European Union liberalism only insofar as it does not seem to threaten either their long-traduced sovereignty or their just-reclaimed identity, and would be wary of a cosmopolitan vision that seems like it could dissolve what they so recently have gained.
As Marusic writes in his essay, from a liberal-cosmopolitan perspective that “sees 1989 primarily as an ideological triumph” for universal values, “much of the politics of the past 10 years in Eastern Europe can only be seen as backsliding,” with leaders like Viktor Orban “a symptom of political decay.”
But from the vantage point of those same countries, for whom independence itself feels hard won and precarious, it seems strange that they should be expected to surrender to a different form of empire just because it dresses its appeals in the language of universal liberalism — especially when the language has a distinctly German accent.
Now of course those same nationalists — encompassing Brexiteering Britons and populist-voting Italians as well as Poles and Hungarians — often want to have it both ways, to have their sovereignty and also have the advantages of membership in the European imperium. Orban rails against foreign influence in Hungary but still takes what Brussels offers the Brexiteers want to keep as many of the benefits of their soon-to-be-erstwhile European Union membership as possible the Italian populist parties are busy rewriting their joint agreement to make sure it’s clear they do not want to leave the euro. There are no political innocents in this story.
But there is a complexity that’s lost when the situation is framed as simply about enlightenment versus authoritarianism. Political norms matter, but so does sovereignty and the substance of policy disagreement. And the problems that have pitted populists against Berlin and Brussels — a common currency that remains misbegotten even though the fiscal crunch has eased, a demographic-economic imbalance between Europe and neighboring regions that promises migration crises without end, a democratic deficit in how the European Union is governed — cannot be resolved by simply appealing to an abstract liberal project.
If they are to be resolved or at least managed, if the third German empire is to last, it will require a change in how its present leaders think about their role. Paradoxically it may require them to become more consciously imperial in certain ways — to recognize that the complex system they are managing is unlikely to ever evolve from a loose empire into a United States of Europe (not least because our own system is increasingly imperial as well), and that it can be governed effectively only by a more modest, self-critical and disinterested elite.
In the meantime, it is a grave mistake for liberalism’s champions to portray the tensions between the center and the periphery in Europe as just a choice for liberal values or against them. Because framing the choice that way, to people who recognize all too well that it can also be a choice for or against their own sovereignty, is a good way to hasten the fall not only of Germany’s third empire but of liberalism itself.
Donald Trump and the Coming Fall of American Empire
Even as President Donald Trump faces ever-intensifying investigations into the alleged connections between his top aides and family members and powerful Russian figures, he serves as commander in chief over a U.S. military that is killing an astonishing and growing number of civilians. Under Trump, the U.S. is re-escalating its war in Afghanistan, expanding its operations in Iraq and Syria, conducting covert raids in Somalia and Yemen, and openly facilitating the Saudi’s genocidal military destruction of Yemen.
Meanwhile, China has quietly and rapidly expanded its influence without deploying its military on foreign soil.
A new book by the famed historian Alfred McCoy predicts that China is set to surpass the influence of the U.S. globally, both militarily and economically, by the year 2030. At that point, McCoy asserts the United States empire as we know it will be no more. He sees the Trump presidency as one of the clearest byproducts of the erosion of U.S. global dominance, but not its root cause. At the same time, he also believes Trump may accelerate the empire’s decline.
McCoy argues that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the beginning of the end. McCoy is not some chicken little. He is a serious academic. And he has guts.
During the Vietnam War, McCoy was ambushed by CIA-backed paramilitaries as he investigated the swelling heroin trade. The CIA tried to stop the publication of his now classic book, “The Politics of Heroin.” His phone was tapped, he was audited by the IRS, and he was investigated and spied on by the FBI. McCoy also wrote one of the earliest and most prescient books on the post-9/11 CIA torture program and he is one of the world’s foremost experts on U.S. covert action. His new book, which will be released in September, is called “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.”
“The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, may already be tattered and fading by 2025 and, except for the finger pointing, could be over by 2030,” McCoy writes. Imagining the real-life impact on the U.S. economy, McCoy offers a dark prediction:
For the majority of Americans, the 2020s will likely be remembered as a demoralizing decade of rising prices, stagnant wages, and fading international competitiveness. After years of swelling deficits fed by incessant warfare in distant lands, in 2030 the U.S. dollar eventually loses its special status as the world’s dominant reserve currency.
Suddenly, there are punitive price increases for American imports ranging from clothing to computers. And the costs for all overseas activity surges as well, making travel for both tourists and troops prohibitive. Unable to pay for swelling deficits by selling now-devalued Treasury notes abroad, Washington is finally forced to slash its bloated military budget. Under pressure at home and abroad, its forces begin to pull back from hundreds of overseas bases to a continental perimeter. Such a desperate move, however, comes too late.
Faced with a fading superpower incapable of paying its bills, China, India, Iran, Russia, and other powers provocatively challenge U.S. dominion over the oceans, space, and cyberspace.
Alfred McCoy is the Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of the now-classic book “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.” His new book, out in September, is “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.”
This week, I interviewed McCoy for the Intercepted podcast. We broadcast an excerpt of the interview on the podcast. Below is an edited and slightly condensed version of the full interview. In this wide-ranging interview, we discuss Trump and Russia, the history of CIA interference in elections around the world, the Iran-Contra scandal, the CIA and the crack-cocaine epidemic, U.S. proxy wars, narcotrafficking in Afghanistan, and much more.
Jeremy Scahill: One of the things that you’re best known for is a book that continues to this day to be relevant when studying covert U.S. operations around the world, as well as the international narcotics trafficking industry, and of course you tie both of those together. We’re going to get into all of that in a moment but I wanted to begin by asking you to assess this current moment that we’re in with Donald Trump. How do you see him in a historical context, and what does his presidency represent about the American empire?
Alfred McCoy: What I think right now is that, through some kind of malign design, Donald Trump has divined, has figured out what are the essential pillars of U.S. global power that have sustained Washington’s hegemony for the past 70 years and he seems to be setting out to demolish each one of those pillars one by one. He’s weakened the NATO alliance he’s weakened our alliances with Asian allies along the Pacific littoral. He’s proposing to cut back on the scientific research which has given the United States — its military industrial complex — a cutting edge, a leading edge in critical new weapons systems since the early years of the Cold War. And he’s withdrawing the United States, almost willfully, from its international leadership, most spectacularly with the Paris Climate Accord but also very importantly with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
And he seems to be setting out to systematically demolish U.S. global hegemony. Now, it’s important to realize that the United States is no longer the pre-eminent global power we were, let’s say at the end of Eisenhower’s presidency, back in 1960. Our share of the global economy has declined substantially. We’re about to be eclipsed by 2030, by China, and become the world’s number two economic power. China’s making some breakthroughs in military technology. The world system is spreading its wealth and there are a number of second tier powers, the rise of the European Union, et cetera. It’s a more complex world, so the United States can no longer dictate to the world, or at least much of the world, like we could back in the 1950s.
Having said that, the presidency is a weaker office internationally than it used to be. Nonetheless, there are presidents, and I say Barack Obama was one of them, George H.W. Bush was another, these presidents through skillful diplomacy, their knowledge of the international system, their geopolitical skills, they could maximize U.S. influence on the world stage. They could use U.S. military power strategically, deftly, they could lead international coalitions, they could set the international agenda. Trump is turning his back on all of that and I think he’s accelerating perhaps markedly, even precipitously, the U.S. decline.
JS: Since Trump became president, everyone is sort of wrapped up in the palace intrigue, and what did Trump know about Russia and when did he know it, and did he know about Don Jr.’s meeting with this lawyer who is being described as “Kremlin-connected?” And I think all of that is a very important story because it could bring down his presidency, but at the same time my sense is that the CIA and the darkest elements of the U.S. military are actually in a pretty flexible position right now because Trump is so hands-off and, because as you say he’s not an effective manager of empire. What are your thoughts on that?
AM: That’s correct. Much of the military establishment and its links with the intelligence community is in place. Let’s say that some of the new initiatives — cyberwarfare — well the Trump administration understands the importance of that and indeed he has advisors that do, so the continued evolution of that, the development, that will continue, space warfare is in a long-term trajectory. Weapons systems take as long as 10 years to go from design, prototype, testing, and either rejection or acceptance. So that transcends any administration, even a two-term administration. So there’s a long-term trajectory.
President Eisenhower, that famous phrase that he warned us about in his last address, the military industrial complex — he built a complex in which he integrated scientific research, basic research in the universities and private corporations, and then dozens of defense contractors who have more or less permanent contracts to maintain their research and production establishment — he integrated that with the U.S. military and that will survive any American president.
Unfortunately what Trump doesn’t seem to understand is that there’s a close relationship between basic research, like research in artificial intelligence, and your capacity to come up with the next new thing that will give the United States a leading edge in military technology. And that’s what he doesn’t understand, that’s the one way he’s damaging the whole complex. But otherwise, you’re right, it’s on a longer-term trajectory about 10, 10-year cycles of research, procurement, and deployment of new weapon systems and that transcends any single administration.
JS: We’ve seen this kind of convergence of the agendas of some neoconservatives who formed part of the core of the “Never Trump” movement of Republicans and then the liberal elites that host shows on MSNBC or are identified as “Democratic strategists.” And this line that we’ve seen repeated over and over is that, what they deride as people calling the “deep state” — in other words, the elements within the CIA in the military — that they’re actually secretly protecting the country from Trump. Given your scholarship on what people loosely call the deep state right now, what do you make of those claims that the CIA and certain elements within the Pentagon are actually the protectors of the Democratic republic?
AM: A complex argument. One: the rapid growth of that state documented by the Washington Post, in a series about eight years ago, 2010, what they called the fourth branch of the U.S. government. That under the terms of the global war on terror, a massive infusion of nearly a trillion dollars into the Homeland Security. And all of the 17 agencies in the so-called intelligence community plus the considerable expansion of the Joint Special Operations Command, which is the military’s permanent integration with that security apparatus, that secret security apparatus, all of this has built a fourth branch of the U.S. government.
And I think that, just as Congress has proved independent from the Trump administration to a certain extent, and we’ll see about the Supreme Court, those are the classic three branches of executive, legislature, and judiciary — now we have this fourth branch. And, what you’re proposing is we need to take this very seriously when we look at the array of power in Washington, D.C. And I agree, we need to. And like all of the other branches it will coordinate with the executive because the executive has a great deal of power, of funding, you can set priorities, but it has a 10-year cycle — ultimately a much longer-term cycle of preparation and responsibility.
A president is in office for eight or maybe four years. A military career, if successful, an intelligence career, is 30 years. So those professionals, and the agencies they represent, have a much longer-term viewpoint. You can see this, for example, in the periodic reports of the National Intelligence Council, that every four years when there’s a new administration coming in, they’re the one agency of the U.S. government that looks ahead 20 years. Not just four or eight or 10. But they actually look ahead 20 years and they try and see the shape of the world and then, set, through the intelligence community and through the national security establishment, priorities for coping with this fast changing world.
So at the apex of the intelligence community, there is this formal procedure for establishing a long range, or medium range, 20-year perspective. So, yes, they look longer, they have their own policies, they have their contracts, their programs that are in many ways autonomous from the executive, and increasingly so. And depending on your point of view and how it plays out, that’s either a strength of the American system in the short term, when you have an executive that some people don’t like, like Donald Trump, over the longer term it could be seen as a threat to democracy, creating a bureaucratic apparatus that’s autonomous, even independent from both the executive and the legislative branch. So, it’s an open question but a good question.
CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade
JS: You’ve written this excellent book that will come out from Haymarket books in September called “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and the Decline of U.S. Global Power.” But I want to ask you about a much earlier book that you wrote, “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.” And that details your investigation — and it really was what introduced you to this world of covert CIA operations, client states, mercenaries, local proxies, and you also found yourself in conflict with very powerful individuals in the CIA and the national security state because of what you were researching. Talk about that book and the process that led to writing it and how it was eventually published.
AM: Sure. Now, almost 50 years ago, looking back it was an extraordinary experience. In the space of 18 months to two years, I acquired an amazing education. Up to that point I was a graduate student looking at the history of colonialism in Southeast Asia, writing articles that had lots of footnotes. I was a library rat.
And in 1970 and ’71, there were rumors that started coming back from Vietnam, particularly 1971, that heroin was spreading rapidly in the ranks of the U.S. forces fighting in South Vietnam. And in later research, done by the White House, [it was] determined that in 1971, 34 percent, one-third of all the American combat troops fighting in South Vietnam were heavy heroin users. There were, if that statistic is accurate, more addicts in the ranks of the U.S. Army in South Vietnam than there were in the United States.
And so what I did was I set out to investigate: Where was the opium coming from? Where was the heroin coming from? Who was trafficking it? How is it getting to the troops in their barracks and bunkers across the length and breadth of South Vietnam? Nobody was asking this question. Everyone was reporting on the high level of abuse, but nobody was figuring out where and who.
So I started interviewing. I went to Paris. I interviewed the head of the French equivalent of the CIA in Indochina, who was then head of a major French helicopter manufacturing company, and he explained to me how during the French Indochina war from 1946 to 1954, they were short of money for covert operations, so the hill tribes in Laos produced the opium, the aircraft picked it up, they turned it over to the netherworld, the gangsters that controlled Saigon and secured it for the French and that paid for their covert operations. And I said, “What about now?” And he said, “Well I don’t think the pattern’s changed. I think it’s still there. You should go and look.”
So I did. I went to Saigon. I got some top sources in the Vietnamese military. I went to Laos. I hiked into the mountains. I was ambushed by CIA mercenaries and what I discovered was that the CIA’s contract airline, Air America, was flying into the villages of the Hmong people in Northern Laos, whose main cash crop was opium and they were picking up the opium and flying it out of the hills and there were heroin labs — one of the heroin labs, the biggest heroin lab in the world, was run by the commander-in-chief of the Royal Laotian Army, a man whose military budget came entirely from the United States. And they were transforming, in those labs, the opium into heroin. It was being smuggled into South Vietnam by three cliques controlled by the president, the vice president, and the premier of South Vietnam, and their military allies and distributed to U.S. forces in South Vietnam.
And the CIA wasn’t directly involved, but they turned a blind eye to the role of their allies’ involvement in the traffic. And so this heroin epidemic swept the U.S. Army in Vietnam. The Defense Department invented mass urine analysis testing, so when those troops left they were tested and given treatment. And what I discovered was the complexities, the complicity, of the CIA in this traffic and that was a pattern that was repeated in Central America when the Contras became involved in the traffic. The CIA looked the other way as their aircraft and their allies were smuggling cocaine from Colombia through Central America to the United States. Same thing in the 1980s, during the secret war in Afghanistan, the Mujahideen turned to opium. The opium production in Afghanistan during that secret war increased from about 100 tons of opium per annum to 2000 tons, a massive increase. Afghanistan went from supplying zero percent of U.S. heroin supply — soared to 65 percent of the illicit heroin supply for the United States came out of Afghanistan. The CIA sent arms across the border through caravans to the Mujahideen fighters and those same caravans came out carrying opium. The CIA prevented the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration, from investigating. Again, complicity in the traffic.
So a clear pattern. The other thing was when I began to do that investigation and write up the book, I faced enormous pressures. My phone was tapped by the FBI, the IRS investigated, I had an audit as a poverty-stricken graduate student. The Department of Education investigated my graduate fellowship. Friends of mine who had been serving in military intelligence were recruited to spy on me. In other words, what I found was the CIA penetrated every aspect of my life. The head of CIA covert operations, a very famous operative named Cord Meyer Jr., visited the offices of Harper and Row, my publisher, and tried to persuade the publisher to suppress the book, hold the contract, just don’t release the book, claiming that it was a threat to national security.
So what I discovered was not only CIA complicity, complex compromise relationships with covert allies far away in remote places like Southeast Asia, but also the incredible depth of the penetration of the CIA within U.S. society under the conditions of the Cold War. I found my phone, my fellowship, my friends, my publisher, every aspect of my life was manipulated by the CIA. It was a fascinating discovery.
JS: And you write in your forthcoming book, “In the Shadows of the American Century,” “I had crafted a historical method that would prove over the next 40 years of my career surprisingly useful in analyzing a diverse array of foreign policy controversies, CIA alliances with drug lords, the agency’s propagation of psychological torture, and our spreading state surveillance.” Part of the reason it seems that they were concerned about what you were investigating in Vietnam, Laos, and elsewhere was that you were tapping into something that was an emerging nexus that the CIA would rely on for decades to come.
AM: Indeed. All of those areas. The method I came up with was very simple. Start far back in the past, as far back as you can go, when the — let’s say the research on torture, although somewhat secret is not controversial because it hasn’t been applied. Go back to the U.S. colonial policy in the Philippines when we started surveillance circa 1898 to pacify the Philippines, and then track it forward step by step all the way to the present, keeping in mind the patterns, the structure of the operation. And then when you get to the present where it becomes secret, highly classified, and very controversial, you understand the structure, so you know where to look, what assumptions are likely to be sound, what hypotheses might work, how you can conduct your analysis and that can lead you to an insight.
For example, let’s take the case of torture, OK? I work on the Philippines as my main area in Southeast Asia that I study, and I was very interested in the overthrow of the Marcos regime. I did some research that contributed to that overthrow. In the aftermath of the overthrow of the Marcos regime, there was this coterie of military colonels that had plotted an abortive coup, that had sparked a so-called People Power Revolution that put a million Filipinos on the streets of Manila calling for Marcos’ downfall, forcing Washington to provide him with aircraft that flew him out to exile in Hawaii and brought democracy. So I was very interested in who these colonels were.
And what I found when I investigated them is that they weren’t line officers, say combat officers, they weren’t even intelligence officers. They were internal security officers who’ve been personally involved in torture. And what I begin to realize is that torture was a transactional experience, that these officers who’ve been trained by the CIA on how to interrogate and use torture, that, as they broke down their victims, they empowered themselves and inspired themselves to this coup to overthrow Marcos.
Well, that also introduced me to the idea that the CIA was training torturers around the globe. And I figured this out in the 1980s, before it was common knowledge. There was some research in the ’70s, people working on this, but we didn’t have the full picture. And what I began to figure out was also the nature of the methods that these colonels were using. Now, look, these are physical guys that were brutally, physically hazed at their military academy, as often happens in such organizations. And so instead of beating physically their victims, they use something counterintuitive. They didn’t touch their victims. They used psychological techniques. And so in 2004, when CBS television published those photographs from Abu Ghraib prison, and nobody knew what was going on. There was that famous photograph of the Iraqi detainee standing on a box with his arms outstretched with phony electrical wires attached to him, he’d been told that if he lowered his arms, he’d be shocked, and he had a bag on his head.
And I looked at that photo and I said, “Those are not bad apples. That is CIA doctrinal techniques. The bag is for sensory deprivation, the arms are for self-inflicted pain, those are the two fundamental techniques of CIA psychological torture.” I wrote a book, “A Question of Torture,” that made that argument. I participated in a documentary that won an Oscar, “Taxi to the Dark Side,” that interviewed me and also made that argument, and it would not be for another 10 years until 2014, when the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee spent $40 million and reviewed 6 million CIA documents and came to a rather similar conclusions. So the method’s useful.
U.S. Interference in Elections
JS: I want to ask you how we ended up with the national security state that we have today? What I mean is, the NSA with its vast powers, which of course you document in the book. The CIA employing tactics under what you’ve called “covert netherworld.” There is this sense, under someone like Barack Obama, that we’re not going to send massive troop deployments around the world, as much as we are going to depend on drones, discreet covert operations, escalated use of Special Operations Forces and CIA paramilitaries. But, talk about the post World War II growth of what now has come to be known as the national security state?
AM: Sure. I think the national security state is the instrument the United States used to build and exercise its global hegemony. Looking at the comparative history of empires in the modern age going back 500 years, the thing that distinguishes the U.S. empire from almost any other, is the reliance upon covert methods and it’s a result of a historical moment.
The U.S. empire coincided with the decolonization, the dissolution of half a dozen European empires that produced 100 new nations, more than half the independent nations on the planet today. And so U.S. hegemony was being exercised, not over colonies, whose sovereignty was compromised, in fact had been transferred to the imperial power, but over independent nation states, who had sovereignty. So you had an empire under conditions that denied empire. So how do you exercise hegemony in a non-hegemonic world? You have to do it covertly.
And in 1947, President Harry Truman, right after World War II, and Congress passed the National Security Act that laid down the bureaucratic apparatus for the U.S. national security state. That National Security Act created the Defense Department, the U.S. Air Force, the CIA, and the National Security Council — the key instruments of the U.S. exercise of global power. And then when the next administration came in, under President Dwight Eisenhower, what he did is he realized that there were nations that were becoming independent across the world and that he had to be intervening in these independent nations and so the only way he could do it was through plausible deniability, you had to intervene in a way that could not be seen. You had to do it covertly. And so Eisenhower turned to the CIA, created by Harry Truman, and he transformed it from an organization that originally tried to penetrate the Iron Curtain, to send agents and operatives inside the Iron Curtain. It was a complete disaster. The operatives were captured, they were used to uncover the networks of opposition inside the Soviet Union, it was absolutely counterproductive. Eisenhower turned the CIA away from that misbegotten mission of penetrating the Iron Curtain and instead assigned them the mission of penetrating and controlling the three-quarters of the globe that was on the U.S. side of the Iron Curtain, the free world.
And Eisenhower relied upon the CIA, and then the National Security Agency, to monitor signals. And we began to exercise our global hegemony, covertly, through the CIA and allied intelligence agencies. And that’s been a distinctive aspect of U.S. hegemony since the dawn of American global power in 1945. And that continues today, ever deepening, layer upon layer, through those processes you described. The drones, the surveillance, the cyberwarfare — all of that is covert.
JS: It’s interesting because there’s a lot of talk now about foreign interference in the U.S. election with — exclusively the attention is being focused on: did Russia interfere in our election? And if so, were they successful in promoting Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton? And in your book, you cite this compilation from Carnegie Mellon University that says between 1946 and 2000, rival superpowers the United States and the Soviet Union, then Russia, intervened in 117 elections or 11 percent of all the competitive national level contests held worldwide via campaign cash and media disinformation. And then you write, “Significantly, the United States was responsible for 81 of those attempts, 70 percent of the total.”
This is not new, the idea that nations interfere in in the elections of others. Walk us through some of the greatest hits of the CIA and other intelligence agencies in election interference, since the 1940s.
AM: Sure — first of all, that was one of the central instruments of the U.S. exercise of global power covertly. We were promoting democracy worldwide, we stood very strongly for democracy over authoritarianism. On the other hand, we were exercising U.S. hegemony, which meant that somehow for those open free democratic contests to produce a leader who was our guy. And indeed, one of the key aspects of U.S. global power, as exercised by Eisenhower through, covertly, was the change. Look, under the colonial empires, Britain, France, Belgium all the rest, they had district officers and they worked with chiefs, maharajahs, emirs, local officials in colonial districts around the globe. And they controlled who was going to be the new emir, who was going to be the new sultan, who was going to be the new maharajah.
And then, when all of those nations decolonized and became independent, the fulcrum for the exercise of power shifted from the colonial district to the presidential palace. And so the United States paid a lot of attention in controlling who were the leaders in those presidential palaces. If you look at the 240,000 WikiLeaks cables from around the world that were leaked in 2011, you’ll find that much of what they’re concerned about is, who is in those presidential palaces around the country? So the U.S. did it through coups and, during the period of the 1950s to the 1970s, about a quarter of the sovereign states in the world changed government by coups, and they also did it by electoral manipulation.
One of the most famous ones, the one that actually established the capacity of the CIA to do that, was the 1948 elections in Italy when it looked like the communist and socialist parties were slated for capturing a majority of the seats in parliament, and then forming a government. And you could have on our side of the Iron Curtain, in a very important world power, Italy, a legally elected, democratic elected communist government. And so the CIA spent, bargain basement, $1 million. Imagine: Buying Italy for a million dollars. Seems like a bargain.
They spent just a million dollars in very skillful, electoral manipulation, and they produced the electoral results of the Christian Democrats, a centrist government. And, throughout the Cold War, the U.S. deftly intervened in Italy at multiple levels overtly in bilateral aid and diplomacy, covertly, and electoral manipulation and something much deeper, Operation Gladio, where they had, if you will, an underground apparatus to seize power in Italy in the case of a communist takeover, by invasion. And the CIA would intervene, they pump money into the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, they played electoral politics in the Philippines. They intervened in Korea politics, in South Korean politics, all around the globe. Any time that there was a serious electoral contest in which the outcome was critical to us, geopolitical interests, the U.S. was intervening.
Now, the difference between that and what we’ve seen with the 2016 elections in the United States, if you’re the global hegemon, you are manipulating, influencing other people’s elections. If you’re a global power like the United States that stands for democracy, that’s the way we exercise that power. We did it sometimes crudely, sometimes deftly, but we didn’t invade countries, we didn’t bomb et cetera. We did it that way. And when we were manipulating other people’s elections, we’re the global power. And when we’re being manipulated, when other powers are penetrating our society and manipulating our elections, that’s a sign that we’re a declining power. And that’s very serious.
In order to maintain our position internationally, not only do we have to exercise our power skillfully, covertly through the operations we’ve been describing, surveillance and the rest, and overtly through diplomacy and international leadership, treaties and trade and all that, OK? But we also have to make sure that our electoral process is impenetrable, is secure, that other powers cannot manipulate us because they’re going to try.
Reagan, Iran-Contra, the CIA, and Crack Cocaine
JS: I often find myself, when I’m watching the news, or in some cases even reading very serious powerful newspapers like the New York Times or the Washington Post, as they cover Donald Trump and this issue of Russia, it seems as though we are totally detached from history. And in reading your book I was reminded of the rise of Mobutu to power in Kinshasa, and also you went into great depth about the CIA crack cocaine story that ultimately was broken wide open by Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury News, and then attacked and major news organizations trying to discredit him. Walk us through the Contra War and the connection to the selling of embargoed weapons to Iran and the fact that you had eleven senior officials in Ronald Reagan’s administration actually convicted of selling Iran embargoed arms.
I mean we talk about scandals and then you look at Reagan, and it’s like 11 senior officials convicted of selling embargoed arms to finance the CIA’s death squad the Contras in Nicaragua?
AM: You know, in the Reagan administration the United States was at a low ebb in its global power. The Reagan administration launched the invasion of Grenada. It was the first time in nearly a decade that the U.S. has been able to exercise its global power anywhere beyond the United States successfully, its military power. And then in Central America, the Reagan administration felt very threatened by the collapse of the Somoza regime, one of the U.S. client regimes in Central America, and the Sandinista guerrilla movement capturing the capital Managua in 1979.
And that occurred at the same time as the Soviet Red Army basically occupied Kabul, the capture of the capital of Afghanistan, so the Reagan administration felt threatened, on a kind of far periphery of U.S. power in Afghanistan, and close at home, kind of a gateway to America — in Central America. So the Reagan administration reacted by mounting two major covert operations: one, to push the Red Army out of Afghanistan and two, to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. And both of these operations involved tolerating trafficking in opium in Afghanistan by the Mujahideen Muslim guerrilla fighters, and tolerating the trafficking in cocaine in Central America by our Contra allies.
And there were basically two forms of support for the Contras. The one was the arms-for-money deal to provide black money to sustain the Contra revolt for the decade that it dragged on. And the other thing was a kind of hands-off approach. There was a DEA operative, a Drug Enforcement Administration operative, in Honduras that was reporting on the Honduran military complicity in the transit traffic of cocaine moving from Colombia through Central America to the United States. He was removed from the country. And then the CIA, because of Congress cutting off the arms shipments periodically for the CIA, the so-called Boland amendment that imposed a kind of embargo upon U.S. support for the Contras, they needed to periodically warehouse their arms. And what they found was that the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras, particularly Roatan Island, was an ideal logistics point right off the coast — it was a major transshipment point for cocaine moving from Colombia across the Caribbean to the United States but it’s also an ideal place for the U.S. to warehouse and then ship its arms to the Contras on the border with Nicaragua and Honduras.
And so, the kingpin, the drug kingpin of the Bay Islands was a notorious international trafficker named Alan Hyde who had 35 ships on the high seas smuggling cocaine from Colombia into the United States. Every U.S. security agency involved, the Coast Guard, the CIA itself, the Drug Enforcement Administration, they all had reports about Alan Hyde being a Class A trafficker, arguably the biggest smuggler in the Caribbean. And to get access to his warehouses what the CIA did was they basically blocked any investigation of Alan Hyde from 1987 to 1992, during the peak of the crack-cocaine epidemic, and so the CIA got to ship their guns to his warehouses and then onward to the border post for the Contras. And Alan Hyde was given an immunity to investigation or prosecution for five years.
That’s — any criminal, that’s all they need, is an immunity to investigation. And this coincided with the flood of cocaine through Central America into the United States. This CIA inspector general in response to protests in South Central, Los Angeles, conducted an investigation also in response to Gary Webb’s inquiries and they released Report 1, they called “The California Connection.” They said that Gary Webb’s allegations that the CIA had protected the distributors, the deal of the Nicaraguan dealers who were brokering the sale of the import cocaine to the Crips and Bloods gangs in South Central, L.A., that that all that was false.
Then they issued, the inspector general in 1998, issued part two of that report, the executive summary said similarly: no case to answer, CIA relations with the Contras in Central America complex, but nothing about drugs. But if you actually read the report, all the way through, which is something historians tend to do, you get to paragraph 913 of that report and there are subsequently 40 of the most amazing revelations, 40 paragraphs of the most amazing revelations stating explicitly in cables and verbatim quotes from interviews with CIA operatives about their compromised relationship with the biggest drug smuggler in the Caribbean, Alan Hyde.
And if you go on the CIA website and you look for that 1998 Inspector General Report, you’ll find a little black line that says paragraphs 913-960 have been excised. Those are those paragraphs. But you can find them on the internet.
JS: One of the fascinating aspects of this — it’s a short part of your book, but I think it’s always important to point this out, the name Robert Gates pops up at the time that the CIA had this relationship with Hyde. Gates was the deputy director of the CIA, and of course now is one of the beloved figures in the bipartisan foreign policy consensus. He was defense secretary under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. And Gates, his hands are all over this thing as well.
AM: Yeah, there’s, how am I going to put it? That illustrates the disparity between the formal rhetoric of politics and the geopolitics of the exercise of global power. And the difficulties, the demands, the moral and political compromises required to run, well let’s call it an empire. A global empire. And, from a pure realpolitik imperial perspective, that Contra operation, by seeking an effective complementation between the flow of drugs north, very powerful illicit economic force, and the Contra guerrilla operations, accomplish their objective. You know? After 10 years of supporting the Contras, the Sandinistas lost power for a time in a democratic election. They were finally pushed out of office. The CIA accomplished its mission.
Now, if you compare that with where we are with drugs and covert operations and military operations in Afghanistan, it was very successful in the 1980s, as a result of the CIA’s alliance of the Mujahideen, provisioning of arms and tolerance for their trafficking and drugs, which provided the bulk of their finance. You know, in 1989, the Soviet Red Army left Kabul, they left Afghanistan, the CIA won. Well today, of course, that drug traffic has been taken over by the Taliban and it funds the bulk of the Taliban’s guerrilla operations, pays for a new crop of teenage boys to become fighters every spring, and we’ve lost control of that. So from a realpolitik perspective, we can see a weakening of U.S. controls over these covert operations that are another manifestation of our, of the decline of the U.S. hegemony.
Heroin and the Worsening War in Afghanistan
JS: I want to ask you about Afghanistan given all of the work you’ve done on the intersection of covert operations on behalf of an empire and transnational narcotics trafficking. I think a lot of people who have followed the history of Afghanistan and U.S. involvement there find it hard to believe that the United States is not aware that its actions are fueling the heroin trade and fueling the insurgency there by having a Taliban that relies on it, as you just laid out. Given your historical, analytical work on past crises, what should we be looking for to see whether or not there is a direct U.S. role in facilitating narcotics flow out of Afghanistan?
AM: Sure. Good question. Look, during the 1980s, when that operation was successful, the CIA knew and in fact a man named Charles Cogan who was the head of the CIA operation in Afghanistan, and when he retired he gave an interview to Australian television, and he said, “Look, there was fallout from that operation. OK, yes there was fallout in terms of drugs.” But he said, “Let’s remember the Soviets left Afghanistan.” So the CIA was, and if Charles Cogan was any sign and I think he is, and he was the head of the operation for a while, they very well knew that the mujahideen fighters, the Muslim guerrillas they were arming and equipping, were getting the bulk of their finance and were sustaining their mass base among the farmers of southern Afghanistan through trafficking in opium and heroin. And that provided — I mean it provided 65 percent, the bulk of U.S. heroin supply, the bulk of the world’s supply.
Now, when the United States pulled out of Afghanistan in 1992, we turned our backs on it and the Taliban backed by Pakistan took power, and under the Taliban by 2000, by 1999-2000, the opium harvest more than doubled to 4500 tons. But then the Taliban became concerned about their pariah status and they decided that if they abolished opium they would no longer be a pariah state, they could get international recognition, they could strengthen their hold on power. And so they actually, in 2000-2001, completely wiped out opium, and it went down from 4600 tons to 180 tons, I mean like an incredible — the most, one of the most successful opium eradication programs anywhere on the planet.
They also completely weakened their state, so that when the U.S. began bombing in October 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban quickly collapsed and then what happened was, of course, when the U.S. came back in, what we did was we worked through the CIA. And we put pallets of hundred dollar bills, we sent in $70 million in cash, we mobilized the old warlord coalition in the far north, the warlords there were heavily involved in opium traffic. We mobilize the Pashtun warlords who were all opium traffickers, and when they swept across Afghanistan and captured the countryside in the provincial capitals, they began supervising over the replanting of opium. And, very quickly, the opium harvest began blooming and by 2006 it was up to 8000 tons of opium — the highest in a century providing well over 90 percent of the world’s opium and heroin supply, and a majority of the gross domestic product of Afghanistan.
And, at the local level, the Taliban took control of the cultivation, the processing and the smuggling and they used the profits to rebuild their apparatus. They were completely wiped out in October 2001, they steadily rebuilt and have launched this succession of offensives that now control over half the countryside, so there’s a very clear relationship between the opium crop, which is now beyond our control, we ignored it up to 2004, as it was booming and spreading again. So it’s one of those interesting exercises or instances in which the U.S. loses control over this complementation between the illicit traffic and the surrogate warfare, that complementation that worked so well in Central America. When you’ve lost control of it in Afghanistan, and it’s one more index of our waning control over the world, an ever more complex world.
The Pillars of Empire Are Starting to Crumble
JS: One of the things that struck me as I read your book “In the Shadows of the American Century” was how often you predict, based on data, on historical example, that the United States as an empire is headed down a path of demise and you write about that with a nuance and you don’t pretend to know the exact scenario. One of the things you write in the book is, “Future historians are likely to identify George W. Bush’s rash invasion of Iraq, in 2003, as the start of America’s downfall. But instead of the bloodshed that marked the end of so many past empires with cities burning and civilians slaughtered, this 21st-century imperial collapse could come relatively quietly through the invisible tendrils of economic contraction or cyberwarfare.”
Why do you seem so convinced that this is inevitable, and how do you foresee the scenarios, potential scenarios for the demise of what we now understand as the American empire?
AM: There are, I think, multiple factors that lead to an imperial decline. If you look at the key aspects of the U.S. global power, you can see a waning of strength in every one of those. One of the key things that I think very few people understand, after World War II, the United States became the first world power, the first empire in 1,000 years to control both ends of the vast Eurasian continent. Now Eurasia, that enormous landmass, is the epicenter of world power. It’s got the resources, the people, the civilizations that — you’ve got to control that to control the world. And the United States, through the NATO alliance in Western Europe and a string of alliances along the Pacific littoral with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia, controlled the axial ends of the Eurasian landmass.
And then we link that with layers of power, treaties multilateral defense treaties, starting with NATO in Europe, all the way to SETO and ANZUS with Australia, the Japan Mutual Security Treaty, the South Korea U.S. Mutual Security Treaty, the Philippine U.S. Mutual Security Treaty. And then we had fleets, we had the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, the Seventh Fleet at Subic Bay Philippines, later the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf. We had hundreds of military bases. By the end of the Cold War we have about 800 overseas military bases.
Most of those were arrayed around the Eurasian landmass. In the last 10 years as drone technology has developed, we’ve laid the latest layer upon that, which are the drone bases. There are 60 U.S. drone bases that stretch from Sicily all the way to Andersen air base on Guam, and that, given the range of the most powerful drones, the Global Hawk, it gives us surveillance and then with Predator and Reaper, strike capacity, all the way along that rim, and that has been, if you will, the key pillars in the global architecture of U.S. power.
And those pillars are starting to crumble. The NATO alliance is weakening under Trump, with the rise of Russian pressure on that alliance, but more particularly, our capacity to control those critical allies along the Pacific littoral is beginning to weaken. Jeremy, your organization The Intercept had, last April, a very important document that leaked out, the transcript of that phone conversation between President Trump and President Duterte of the Philippines, that should have had front page coverage all across the world, and every serious American newspaper. It got good coverage, but not the coverage it deserved.
If you read that transcript closely, you can see the waning of U.S. power along the Pacific littoral. Donald Trump is calling up, he’s got a fellow demagogue in the person of Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, who has killed about 8000 people in his so-called drug war — people blown away, bodies dumped in the streets of Manila and Cebu and elsewhere in the country, and he’s calling up and congratulating him and trying to bond with him, you know, autocrat to autocrat. And then Trump shifts the conversation and says, “Well, we got this problem in Korea. Kim Jong-un is unreliable.” And Duterte says, “I’m going to call China, I’ll talk to Xi Jinping about that.” And Trump says, “We’ve got some very powerful submarines, which we’re going to have in the area.” And Duterte says, “Yeah, I’m going to call,” he says, “Yeah, I’m gonna call Xi Jinping about that. I’ll be talking to China.”
And it’s clear that Trump is trying to court the man, trying to impress him with U.S. strength, and every time Trump tries to do it, Duterte responds, “I will call China.” It’s a clear indication of China’s rising power along that Pacific littoral. Also, China has been conducting a very skillful geopolitical strategy, so-called “One belt, One road” or “Silk Road” strategy and what China has been doing since about 2007 is they’ve spent a trillion dollars and they’re going to spend another trillion dollars in laying down a massive infrastructure of rails and gas and oil pipelines that will integrate the entire Eurasian landmass. Look, Europe and Asia, which we think of as — we’re learning in geography in elementary school that they’re two separate continents — they’re not. They were only separated by the vast distances, the steps in the desert that seem to divide them. Well China’s laid down, through a trillion dollars investment, a series of pipelines that are bringing energy from Central Asia across thousands of miles into China, from Siberia into China.
They’ve also built seven bases in the South China Sea and they’re taking control over these — spent over $200 million in transforming a fishing village on the Arabian Sea named Gwadar, in Pakistan, into a major modern port. They’ve also got port facilities in Africa. And through these port facilities they’re cutting those circles of steel that the United States laid down to kind of link and hold those two axial ends of Eurasia. So we are slowly, because of China’s investment, its development, some of our mismanagement of our relationships and long-term trends, those axial ends of Eurasia they’re crumbling. Our power, our control over that critical continent is weakening, and China’s control is slowly inexorably increasing and that is going to be a major geopolitical shift. One that is going to weaken the United States and strengthen China.
JS: You write, “All available economic, educational, technological data indicate that when it comes to U.S. global power, negative trends are likely to aggregate rapidly by 2020, and could reach a critical mass no later than 2030. The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, may already be tattered and fading by 2025, and, except for the finger pointing could be over by 2030.” How do you see that happening and what does that mean for the United States in the world, but also for ordinary Americans?
AM: Sure. How do I see it happening? There are the geopolitical shifts that I just described. The other thing of the long-term trends, the issues of economic waning, U.S. economic strength. China is slowly, is steadily surpassing the United States as the number one economic power. That’s one long-term trend. And China will therefore have the resources to invest in military technology.
The second thing is, we speak of crumbling U.S. infrastructure, one thing that nobody talks about very seriously in a sustained way is the intellectual infrastructure of the country. The OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the rich countries club, conducts these tests every couple years, the PISA tests, and they test 15-year-olds. In the latest rounds of tests, Shanghai students have come number one in math, science, and literacy.
U.S. students have been somewhere, in math and science, somewhere between 20 and 30. And so you might say, “Who cares about a bunch of 15-year-olds with braces, backpacks, and attitudes?” Well, by 2030, those 15-year-olds are going to be in their 20s and 30s. They’re going to be the super smart scientists and engineers that are coming up with the cutting edge technology. Technology, for example, like photon communications. China is evidently going to lead in this, that means that China can communicate with its satellites and its entire cyber and space and military apparatus without fear of being compromised. We have not developed the same level of photon communications as China. We’re much more subject to being hijacked and manipulated.
So, those kinds of trends in raw military power. The sort of the erosion of U.S. educational standards within 10 or 15 years can have some very serious implications for our military technology. It means you just don’t have the scientists, the technology, the innovation that has been so central to U.S. global power for so many years. And so that waning, the geopolitical shifts, you know, those invisible movements of a power arrayed across the landscape. And then the technological and educational shifts coming together means that there are all kinds of ways for the U.S. to lose power. Either with a bang or a whimper. But by 2030, it’s pretty much over for our global dominion.
JS: And is that, is that in your opinion a bad thing?
AM: Well, yes it is, and I here, you know I speak, you could call me, you know a narrow American. But, OK, every empire — if you think we’ve had empires in the world for about 4,000 years. Some have been more benign and beneficent, others have been absolutely brutal. If you want to go to the most brutal empire, I think in human history, the Nazi empire in Europe. It was an empire. It plundered. Much of that mobilization of labor was just raw exploitation. It was the most brutal empire in human history and it collapsed. The Japanese empire in Asia, which was arguably the biggest empire in history, was a second runner-up for raw brutality, they collapsed. The British empire was relatively benign. Yes, it was a global power, there were many excesses, many incidents, one can go on, but when it was all over, they left the Westminster system of parliament, they left the global language, they left a global economy, they left a culture of sports, they created artifacts like the BBC.
So the U.S. empire has been, and we’ve had our excesses, Vietnam, we could go on. Afghanistan. There are many problems with the U.S. exercise of its power but we have stood for human rights, the world has had 70 years of relative peace and lots of medium size wars but nothing like World War I and World War II. There has been an increase in global development, the growth of a global economy, with many inequities, but nonetheless, transnationally, a new middle class is appearing around the globe. We’ve stood for labor rights and environmental protection. Our successor powers, China and Russia, are authoritarian regimes. Russia’s autocratic, China’s a former communist regime. They stand for none of these liberal principles.
So you’ll have the realpolitik exercise of power, all the downsides with none of the upsides, with none of the positive development. I mean we’ve stood for women’s rights, for gay rights, for human progress, for democracy. You know we’ve been flawed in efficacy, but we’ve stood for those principles and we have advanced them. So we have been, on the scale of empires, comparatively benign and beneficent. And I don’t think the succeeding powers are going to be that way.
Moreover, there are going to be implications for the United States. Most visibly, I think that when the dollar is no longer the world’s unchallenged, pre-eminent, global reserve currency, the grand imperial game will be over. Look, what we’ve been able to do for the last 20 years is we send the world our brightly colored, our nicely printed paper, T-notes, and they give us oil and automobiles and computers and technology. We get real goods and they get brightly colored paper. Because of the position of the dollar. When the dollar is no longer the global reserve currency, the cost of goods in the United States is going to skyrocket.
We will not be able to travel the world as we do now. We won’t be able to enjoy the standard of living we do now. There will be lots of tensions that are going to occur in the society from what will be a major rewriting of the American social contract. This will not be pleasant. And arguably, I think it’s possible if we look back, we could see Trump’s election and all the problems of the Trump administration as one manifestation of this imperial decline.
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Modern knowledge of history, in Gibbon’s field alone, has increased conspicuously. Economic, social, and constitutional history have grown up. The study of coins, inscriptions, and archaeology generally has brought in a great harvest. Above all, the scientific examination of literary sources, so rigorously practiced now, was unknown to Gibbon. Yet he often exhibits a flair and an acumen that seem to anticipate these systematic studies. He had genius in large measure, as well as untiring industry and accuracy in consulting his sources. Though he was unsympathetic to Christianity, his sense of fairness and probity made him respectful of honest opinion and true devotion, even among those with whom he disagreed. These qualities, expressed with his command of historical perspective and his incomparable literary style, justify a modern historian’s dictum that “whatever else is read Gibbon must be read too,” or the conclusion of the great Cambridge historian J.B. Bury:
That Gibbon is behind date in many details and in some departments of importance, simply signifies that we and our fathers have not lived in an absolutely incompetent world. But in the main things he is still our master above and beyond “date.”
Why Did the Achaemenid Empire Fall?
Throughout time there have been a number of Persian Empires, but none of them can compare to the great Achaemenid Empire, which ruled between 550 to 330BC. The Achaemenid Empire is known as the largest empire in Ancient history which stretched out approximately 8 million km² at the height of its power. So how does an Empire so large and with such great power collapse? Was it struggle for power, which every new king had to suffer after the death of Darius the Great? Or was it because of corruption of the ministers and Satraps that made the empire decline. Maybe it could have been the invading Greek forces lead by Phillip the II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great or are all these to blame?
The Achaemenid Empire was the largest Empire in Ancient history. It began as a small state located in modern day Iran. It is called the Achaemenid Dynasty is because of the Achaemenes who created the state. It is not until Cyrus the Great came into power in 559 BC did the expansion of Persia begin. He conquers the median empire that controlled Persia at that time and thereafter he and his successors go on to conquer most of the Middle East and Asia Minor, expanding out 8 million km². They even conquered part of Greece another formidable country at the time, but had to retreat after a loss at the Battle of Plataea. After this invasion of Greece is when we start to see a decline of power in the Empire until its eventual fall when King Darius the III died in 330BC.
The most obvious reason for why the Achaemenid Empire fell is the invasion of Greece by Alexander the Great During the reign and death of Artaxerxes the III, The Macedonian king, Phillip the II was forcibly uniting Greece. By 337 BC he had formed The League of Corinth. He was elected as the Leader of the army that would invade Persia but was assassinated as the invasion was commencing. His son Alexander the III (the Great) succeeds him as king of Macedonia and also.
Empire comes from the Latin imperium , derived from the verb imperare , which means to command. Thus an emperor, the man who governs by command rather than consensus or consultation.
From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the invasion of Iraq, America was in command, not absolutely and not everywhere, but in many places and too a large degree. Difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the financial crisis, and the rise of China as an economic and military power suggest that were less omnipotent today. Yet we remain the singular country at the center of the evolving global economy, as well as the worlds sole military superpower.
As David Rieff recently observed, a certain kind of commitment to American exceptionalism underwrites our imperial power. Its a view that transcends political parties. Liberals, he writes, tend to oppose U.S. military interventions abroad, including in Afghanistan, while conservatives believe in the centrality of military power in advancing American interests. But where they are of one mind is on the necessity of Americas continued hegemony in the world. Empire seems encoded into our national DNA.
Coming from conservative quarters, Richard Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru argued, in a recent essay in the National Review , that America is freer, more individualistic, more democratic, and more open and dynamic than any other nation on earth. These qualities, they continue, give us a unique role and mission in the world: as a model of ordered liberty and self-government and as an exemplar of freedom and a vindicator of it, through persuasion when possible and force of arms when necessary.
From the left, Anne Marie Slaughter, the current head of policy planning at the State Department, once wrote that America has a special role in the world. We are, she said, as much an idea&rdquoa vision of democratic life&rdquoas a particular country, and, as she puts it, it is an idea that ultimately belongs to all the worlds peoples.
The implication seems clear. If America is not an empire, it should be, not perhaps by administering the known world in the fashion of Rome, or having a large number of colonies, as did the British, but certainly by setting the political agenda for everyone else.
All this makes me uneasy, which is probably why Ive disliked talk of an American empire in the past. I want to live in a place, not an idea, among a community of people, not an ideology, for the sake of a history, not a manifesto.
Im also troubled by the implications of a global mission. I have nightmares about the gradual takeover of Washington by global corporate interests, other nations, and NGOs, all of whom see that lobbying the U.S. government provides the most efficient way to influence global affairs. Lobbyists multiply. Foreign interests find ways to funnel cash into our political process. Slowly (or maybe not so slowly) we shift from our already (and always) inadequate democracy toward even more corrupted forms of governance by influence peddling.
Our imperial role also puts our national institutions at risk. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and other universities now train a multi-cultural elite to manage and administer the ad hoc global system that has emerged since the end of the Cold War. Thus Princetons modified motto is no longer In the nations service, as coined by Woodrow Wilson, but In the nations service and the service of all nations. All things considered, its not a surprising change, nor unique. As the Romans discovered when their republic came to an end, empire works against a circumscribed, self-governing national life.
Ive been thinking about this lately because of all the news about Wikileaks, the website that recently began publishing a vast trove of American diplomatic cables. The head of the rogue operation, the Australian Julian Assange, likes to talk about the intrinsic value of transparency, but he has been clear about his real goal. In this and the earlier disclosure of American battlefield intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Assange hopes to strike a blow against the American empire.
My patriotic impulses, which are quite deep and potent, tell me that Assange should be hanged. But then I step back. I have dark forebodings about our imperial ambitions and deep misgivings about the inclination to think of America as the worlds idea. (God forbid that the world should live in accord with any idea!) I believe that America is indeed exceptional and profoundly worthy of patriotic loyalty, but Im opposed to views that see American global dominance&rdquowhether by way of hard power or soft power&rdquoas our national destiny.
In fact, the very idea of national destiny strikes me as wrong-headed. Yes, God oversees the affairs of men, guiding the course of history in accordance with his Providence. However, as Abraham Lincoln recognized during the Civil War&rdquoa conflict about the very meaning of the crucial American idea of freedom&rdquoit is impossible to assign divine favor to one side or the other. He was a far better theologian than those who formulated the slogan of Manifest Destiny.
Nonetheless, Im against Assange and other would-be radicals who see empire and think evil, for they are also in the grip of a false view. American global predominance is evil compared to what? As compared to increased global conflict? As compared to a corrupt and inept United Nations? As compared to the cold, amoral, calculating self-interest of an ascendant China? Assange talks a great deal about the virtue of transparency. But this entirely abstract and formal idea has no capacity to restrain the perennial human impulse toward violence, chaos, and destruction.
In other words, Im in favor of defending the American empire, such as it is, because Im an Establishmentarian. While not inclined to romanticize current arrangements, which are undoubtedly unjust and cruel and riddled with human sinfulness, I very much oppose revolutionary attitudes that make the terrible error, all too common among progressives, of imagining that nothing could be worse than the status quo .
I take comfort in knowing that St. Augustine adopted the same view. He wrote the definitive book against our worldly fantasies of empire: City of God . Yet he worked to support the survival of the Roman Empire. Throughout most of his adult life, the Roman Empire was crumbling, attacked by Germanic tribes from the north. At one point he went to see some Roman generals in the field. They had come to see the futility of the imperial dreams of the city of man&rdquoAugustines own arguments taken to their logical conclusions&rdquoand they wished to retire to their villas to purify their souls. Augustine urged them to stay in the field. One does not abandon ordinary men and women to the forces of chaos, which are real and pitiless.
Our predominance is likely to endure, and perhaps even increase. (Im an American optimist who thinks our society has remarkable capacities for renewal.) This puts us in a unique position of global responsibility, one that we should not abandon. We must stay in the field in order to defend the global order (no doubt a very imperfect one) that we have done so much to create.
This responsibility puts us in a perilous position. Our notions of American exceptionalism have tempted us (and continue to tempt us) toward imperial fantasies that may be our undoing. I hope we resist these fantasies. It seems to me absurd to imagine that America is the idea that belongs to all the worlds people. And it strikes me as silly to think that were freer, more individualistic, and more democratic than any other nation. After all, we largely invented the highly conformist mentality of mass consumer culture.
In any event, the ultimate destiny of America should be manifest to any who take the long view. We will eventually go the way of all earthly kingdoms&rdquodestroyed by the consuming self-love that drags fallen humanity down into the dust.
But as St. Augustine recognized, our moral responsibilities do not stretch out into the long view. They concern the here and now. The present, American-led global order secures a relative peace, one threatened by the Wikileaks attacks, which are motivated by anarchistic and antinomian fantasies, ones all too common among Western progressives. There are present day Vandals abroad, forces of discord, disorder, and destruction that Assange and others eager for the fall the American empire underestimate. We cannot allow them to triumph.
R.R. Reno is a Senior Editor of First Things and Professor of Theology at Creighton University. He is the general editor of the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible and author of the volume on Genesis . His previous On the Square articles can be found here . David Rieffs The Wikileaks Strike at the Heart of American Exceptionalism can be found here , Richard Lowry and Ramesh Ponnurus essay An Exceptional Debate can be found here , and Anne Marie Slaughters essay The Idea That Is America can be found here .
David Rieffs The Wikileaks Strike at the Heart of American Exceptionalism can be found here , Richard Lowry and Ramesh Ponnurus essay An Exceptional Debate can be found here , and Anne Marie Slaughters essay The Idea That Is America can be found here .
What Will You Tell Your Children When They Ask “Daddy, Why Did America Fall?”
Someday, many of the young adults will be asked this question by your children who will be unable to find the answer in the Common Core textbooks of the future. What will you say? What will you tell your children about the time America officially became a third world country? You might want to consider the banker-bailout date of 2008 when describing the collapse of America to your future children. America has indeed collapsed and we are living through the “settling of the dust”and are entering the post-collapse period of our history.
In 1945, at the close of World War II, America produced 50% of the world’s goods despite only having five percent of the population. In less than 65 years, the bottom fell out of the United States of America. It is tragic, beyond words, what has happened to our country. The following recounts some of the reasons for our decline.
In answer to the question, why did America fail, the following represents the truth.
America is in the midst of a three pronged plan to designed to bring devastation upon the United States.
- Pre-collapse strategy designed to bring America to her knees.
- The coming devastation of the American military will effectively end the reign of the American empire.
- The ongoing implementation of the New World Order (e.g. Agenda 21).
This articles summarizes the key elements of the pre-collapse strategy.
NAFTA, CAFTA and How America Got the SHAFTA
By applying the perspective of history, it becomes clear that the agenda of the original SPP which was to bring us the concept known as CANAMEXAMERICA was to be employed and made legal by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The plan called for the creation of an international corridor of highways, controlled by the globalists, but paid for by the American taxpayer. The plan was designed to erase all national boundaries between Canada, Mexico and the United States. SPP, often referred to as the North American Union, was designed to promote the free movement of all people in Central America to the United States. This is precisely what we are witnessing as this was codified into law by the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
This plot to deculturalize alll Western nations is well underway with the Muslim invasion of Europe and the United States. We are living in such a bizarre time. Since when is the majority culture expected to acquiesce to the incoming minority culture? Yet, this is precisely what we are seeing which are millions of immigrants that refuse to assimilate. Yes, with a birth rate of 1.8, when we require 2.1 to maintain our present population, we need immigration, th but we need orderly and plannned immigration. Programs such as Social Security demand that we maintain our numbers. However, we do not need the corporate motivated and UN led kind of a free-for-all immmigration plan that is undermining the majority culture. How many third world immigrants can a nation take on before that nation becomes a third world nation?
The present immigration strategy presents a “death by a thousand cuts” strategy. I agree with Frosty Woolridge, we need a 10 year moratorium on immigration just to catch our breath.
The United States Military Code of Justice has essentially removed beastiality as a punishable offense. Do we really have to say any more about the moral decline of the United States? Well, actually, we do. Wells Fargo Wachovia and HSBC Bank engaged in rampant child sex trafficking and got off with a mere fine and nobody went to jail!
A minimm of 28,000 pastors belong to the DHS’ Clergy Response Team that is dedicated to preaching the word of government over the word of God. And this is all being done for the love of money in order to preserve the churches tax exempt status. Do you have the courage to face just how far from grace our churches have fallen? Go to the search engine of The Common Sense Show, and type in the name “Pastor Walter Mansfield”.
Of course, all this began when we took prayer out of the classroom.
Out of Control Debt
There are five numbers that every American should have etched in the collective minds:
- $19 trillion dollar deficit and this is the good news.
- $240 trillion dollar unfunded and mandated liabilities (e.g. Social Security and Medicare).
- $1.5 trillion dollar credit swap derivatives debt.
- $505 trillion dollar annual interest rate on the credit swap derivatives debt.
- The entire GDP of the planet is only $70 trillion dollars.
Third world countries have spiraling out of control debt. Standard & Poor’s made it official when it changed its label for America’s national debt from “stable” to “negative.” Subsequently, America is now officially a “Third World country”. The US is facing debt restructuring similar to Greece, Italy, Spain and Cypress.
The debt crisis has also spread to nearly every state as 46 states out of 50 states are on the verge of bankruptcy and many of our cities are going broke. Detroit is the epitome of a third world city. America’s infrastructure is collapsing as evidenced by the pitiful condition of our roads which are quickly obtaining Third World status.
Does anyone still believe the movie, The Hunger Games, wasn’t delivering a clear message as to what lies ahead for all of us unless we can wake up enough people in time and change our course?
What a lot of people don’t seem to realize is that when the Greatest Depression of 2008 hit, the money that once filled the coffers of the American middle class did not just evaporate into thin air. That money flowed somewhere and where it flowed was into the pockets of the banksters and a few of their select minions courtesy of the banker bailouts.
Since 2008, cavernous income gaps characterize Third-World nations and the United States is right up there with the worst of the nations with regard to income disparity. The income gap between the rich and poor has increased at a staggering pace, while many more middle-class folks citizens are losing ground on a daily basis.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report found that the income gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle-income and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past thirty years. Did you enjoy your prolonged nap while this was going on?
The CIA’s “Gini index,“ which reports on the world’s income distribution found that the United States has the 40th highest income gap disparity out of 136 nations measured. Nambia is the worst and Sweden is the best. The United States income disparity is comparable to Jamaica and Cameroon.
Unemployment numbers, food stamps, and home foreclosures continue to reach new record highs. Government-dependent people often have more discretionary income than a middle income worker making $60,000 per year.
And despite all of our economic woes, the economic free fall of our country has not financially touched the members of Congress as this constitutes another characteristic of Third World countries in which the ruling elite and their law making minions live high off the hog. The net worth of Congress continues to rise despite the onset of the Greatest Depression of 2008. The year 2008, was the year that the Wall Street took over the nation’s money, both nationally and individually and members of Congress laughed all the way to the bank. Financial disclosure forms analyzed by Roll Call magazine, using the minimum valuation of assets, showed that members of Congress, in 2010, had a collective net worth of over $2 billion, which constitutes a $390 million increase from the $1.65 billion members of Congress enjoyed in 2008 at the time of the first bailout.
Slavery As a Means to Fatten the Coffers of the Elite
Most Third World countries practice some form of overt and/or covert forms of slavery which serve to economically benefit the elite. America is no different. The US has simply traded one form of slavery for another.
Despite the fact that the United States makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, America’s prisons confine more than 25% of all people who are incarcerated on the entire planet. Several of these prisoners perform labor at twenty-three cents per hour while housed in our federal prisons contracted by the Bureau of Prisons’ UNICOR.
UNICOR is a for-profit corporation and it is the US government’s 39th largest contractor. Privatized prisons are the fastest growing prisons in the United States and they are normally guaranteed a 90% occupancy rate. This criminal corruption leads to a Third World type of abuse of the public by police departments in order to meet arrest quotas which guarantee the owners of the growing privatized prisons that they are promised occupancy rates will be met. Along these lines, a plethora of stories document how the New York Police Department plants drugs on innocent subjects in their controversial “stop and frisk” program in which, in October 2011, a former NYPD narcotics detective testified that he regularly saw police plant drugs on innocent citizens in order to meet preset arrest quotas. George H. W. Bush is one of the biggest players in the business of privatized prisons.
Slavery was codified into law when Obama signed Executive Order 13603.
A constant characteristic among third world nations is a substandard health care system. I recently polled a number of young adults as to where they thought the United States fell with regard to life expectancy as compared to the rest of the world. Before voting, many acknowledged that the US had slipped from its once lofty position with regard to health care. Some people guessed that we had fallen to fourth or fifth in longevity. Some people made even bolder predictions by stating that we might have fallen as far down the life expectancy model as 10th.
What is your vote? How long do Americans live in comparison to our international cohorts? After all, the United States spends twice as much as the average of any other modern country for health care. In the US, we spend 17.6% of our GDP on health care, by far the highest percentage in the world and what do we get for this Third World type of highway robbery?
- Fewer physicians (2.3 per 1,000 as compared to 3.1 for the rest of the world).
- The number of hospital beds are fewer than other nations (2.6 per 1,000 as compared to 3.4 for the rest of the world).
- The average American lifespan is 78.7 years in 2010, more than one year less than the rest of the World’s OCED nations.
Now to answer the previous mentioned survey question I posed to the group of young adults which asked how long Americans live in comparison with the rest of the world. Sadly, according to the CIA Factbook, the United States is 50th in world in terms of life expectancy. Hong Kong is eighth and we have fallen behind Bosnia and Herzegovina. Oh, and one other thing, Cubans live longer than Americans.
Are you planning on having a baby and want to ensure its safety during the birthing procedure? You would be better off moving to Cuba where they have a lower infant mortality rate than the United States. The United States is amazingly number 47 in the world in infant mortality.
In fact, in the United States you are far more likely to be killed by your doctor than you are by a firearm. Death by doctor exceeded 225,000, in a two year period while death by firearm was only 9,601.
So, Americans are paying far more for health care and reaping Third World type of benefits. Today, health care is not about increasing health and longevity, it is about separating American patients from as much of their hard-earned money as possible. Obamacare, which is off to a disastrous beginning, will prove to be the biggest genocidal and simultaneously bankrupting factor in American history.
The Evisceration of Personal Liberties
Everyday freedoms are often a casualty of a society in collapse. The NDAA has eliminated due process from our constitution which destroyed the Fifth, Sixth and Eight Amendments to the Constitution. The Patriot Act eliminated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Obama is threatening to destroy the Second Amendment, again, following the Oregon shooting. During a Presidential declared emergency, FEMA can snatch anything you own, including you (NDAA), thus, eliminating the First and Third Amendments. The entire constitution is on life support.
Homeland Security (DHS) is arming against the American people as evidenced by its recent 2.2 billion rounds of acquired ammunition to go with the 2700 armored vehicles recently purchased by DHS. These police powers typically go hand in hand with collapsing economies in Third World countries which is what we are witnessing in America and the following statistics bear this out.
Do you remember that intellectual giant that occupied the White House prior to Obama? His name is George W. Bush and in typical fashion he ignorantly stated “they (the terrorists) hate us because of our freedoms.” Do you remember that asinine statement? As with most things uttered by this intellectually deprived ex-President, Bush was dead wrong. The 2013 Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index, notes that, with regard to personal freedom, America came in at 14th place which puts the US in good company with Uruguay and Costa Rica. And when it comes to the Safety & Security comparisons, America came in at 27th putting the US on par with Bulgaria. These factors need to be coupled with the fact that our small businesses and American citizens, those who bother to go to work, pay the highest taxes in the world, thus increasing our level of indentured servitude to the bankster run government.
Media Manipulation and Control
A government-sponsored media that censors information is a key component of Third World countries. In some countries, the media is openly owned by the State. In America, the corporations dominate the government and these same corporations own the media. Therefore, we have state-sponsored media control by default.
“In 1983, fifty corporations dominated most of every mass medium … In 1987, the fifty companies had shrunk to twenty-nine. … In 1990, the twenty-nine had shrunk to twenty three. … In 1997, the biggest firms numbered ten….Today there are only 8 giant media companies dominating the US media (Disney, AOL-Time Warner, Viacom, General Electric/NBC, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google).
Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, (Beacon Press, 2000), pp. xx—xxi
Then there is former award winning CNN special correspondent, Amber Lyon, who left CNN because as she says, CNN was taking money from the federal government to embellish and openly fabricate some stories while not covering other stories.
The concentration of ownership has led to censorship when national and corporate interests overlap, and in typical Third World fashion, by default, we have government run media.
The simple solution is to turn off the television.
America is almost a completely conquered nation. We still have to fight and lose a war. In the meantime, you, as a parent and grandparent, might want to rehears what you will tell your children about why America and fell. Pay close attention to your answer to your child’s follow up question: Daddy and Mommy, what did you do to stop it? Of course we are assuming that you will survive to answer that question. But first, you must survive the coming war of devastation. That will be the topic of the part in this series.
TLB recommends you visit Dave at The Common Sense Show for more pertinent articles and information.
See featured article and read comments HERE
Decline and Fall: The Grim Message of The Camp of the Saints
In the first part of this series, we recalled Edward Gibbon’s magisterial history from the 18th century, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and noted the ominous parallels for America today. In the second part of this series, we will recall a more recent–and perhaps even scarier–work from the 20th century, Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints.
Gibbon and Raspail are very different figures. Gibbon, who died in 1794, was an English historian, while Raspail, now almost 90, is a French novelist. But in their work, the two men agreed on one simple point: If a country imports a new population, it will get a new politics–and a new everything else.
For today’s Democrats in America, and for the multicultural left as a whole, that, of course, is the goal. If the existing group of voters fails to live up to progressive ideals, there’s a simple solution: Get new voters. The old concern about “the consent of the governed” is thus replaced by a new imperative: “manipulation by the governors.”
Indeed, the logic of importing more left-wing voters is a common thought among contemporary Democratic politicos. As Washington Post reporter Dan Balz wrote on Saturday, Democrats see “‘demography is destiny’. . . as their ace in the hole in future presidential campaigns.” And as President Obama, after having issued an Executive Order offering amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, said on Sunday, “I am very interested in making sure that I’ve got a Democratic successor. So I’m going do everything I can, obviously, to make sure that whoever the nominee is, is successful.”
In other words, those Democrats not satisfied with recent election outcomes–the 2010 and 2014 midterms come to mind–have an easy solution: Bring in “better” voters.
Indeed, the roots of the Democrats’ demography-is-destiny strategy run deep–deep, that is, among limousine-liberal fatcats and their foundations. Earlier this month, The New York Times ran a story headlined, “The Big Money Behind the Push for an Immigration Overhaul.” The piece detailed the role of old-line funding sources, such as the Ford Foundation, joined now by the likes of newer outfits, such as George Soros’s Open Society Foundation collectively, these left-wing foundations have pumped some $300 million into the open-borders effort. As the Times detailed,
The philanthropies helped the groups rebound after setbacks and financed the infrastructure of a network in constant motion, with marches, rallies, vigils, fasts, bus tours and voter drives. The donors maintained their support as the immigration issue became fiercely partisan on Capitol Hill and the activists intensified their protests, engaging in civil disobedience and brash confrontations with lawmakers and the police.
Yes, it might seem a little strange: Many of the richest and most privileged Americans–those who have, by definition, done extraordinarily well under the current system–have dedicated themselves to the fundamental transformation, even dissolution, of America.
This process–call it systematized self-hatred–has been going on in America for a long time, albeit at smaller scale. For example, there’s the pathetic spectacle of the Episcopal Church for decades, most Episcopalian leaders have acted as if they never saw an anti-American, or even anti-Christian, cause that they didn’t seek to embrace.
The recent decision of the Washington National Cathedral to invite in a Muslim prayer service illustrates this bizarre phenomenon. In an interview with Breitbart News, the Episcopal cathedral’s Dean, The Very Reverend Gary Hall, dismissed concerns that pro-terrorist elements had infiltrated the prayer service. And he added, for good measure, some trendy-lefty Israel-bashing: He called former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin a “terrorist.”
Meanwhile, looking back to Gibbon’s 18th-century history, we might note that the author also chronicled the rise of Islam as it destroyed the Eastern Roman Empire, capturing Constantinople, now Istanbul. As he wrote, “Mahomet, with the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other, erected his throne on the ruins of Christianity.”
Perhaps in the future, some new Edward Gibbon will seek to understand fully the Decline and Fall of one branch of Christianity, the Anglican, or Episcopal, Church. The future chronicler might ask: What drove Episcopalians to hate themselves, and their tradition, so much that they welcomed in their replacements–even their mortal enemies? What brought about their collective death-wish?
In the meantime, as we wait for a future Gibbon to write non-fiction, we already have Jean Raspail, the fiction writer, to show us what happens when this death-wish comes to afflict not just a church, but a whole culture.
Four decades ago, Raspail’s dystopic novel, The Camp of the Saints, gave us a stark warning: Unchecked immigration poses a mortal threat to France, Europe, America–and all of Western Civilization.
The title of Raspail’s 1973 book comes from the Book of Revelation, in which Satanic forces are described as surrounding God’s people, only to be destroyed by fire from above. And yet in Raspail’s bleak tale, there is no divine intervention instead, all is lost.
In the novel, a million poverty-stricken Indians climb on board cargo ships in Calcutta and set a course for Europe. This mass exodus sets off a furious debate in France. Those who welcome large quantities of immigrants, Raspail explains, are “righteous in their loathing of anything and everything that smacked of present-day Western society, and boundless in their love of whatever might destroy it.” It’s worth recalling that Raspail wrote this more than 40 years ago how did he see the near future–2014–so clearly?
Meanwhile, the immigration flotilla steams westward Raspail describes the scene aboard the immigrant convoy: “Everywhere, rivers of sperm. Streaming over bodies, oozing between breasts, and buttocks, and thighs, and lips, and fingers . . . a welter of dung and debauch.”
Yet in France, the self-abasing national authorities see the newcomers differently–as a redemptive force from the Third World. Deliriously declaring this horde to be a “million Christs,” the government hails their arrival as signaling “the dawn of a just, new day.”
In Raspail’s novel, one of the characters, an old professor steeped in European history, observes that French elites indeed lack the needed patriotic consciousness–that is, “the knowledge that one’s own is best, the triumphant joy at feeling oneself to be part of humanity’s finest.” Such pride of a people is natural, even desirable, but, as Raspail explains, it has been beaten down by decades of guilt-tripping today, he sighs, the French are “nothing more than . . . sheep.”
And so this Indian multitude–reduced to 800,000 by rampant onboard disease and violence–is allowed to land in Southern France, whereupon the Ganges horde immediately unleashes rape and ruin. Then other immigrants come pouring into the West as well: “the swarthy millions roaming the streets of New York and London, or the myriad blacks and Arabs ready to spew from the cellars of Paris.” Soon squatters have moved in with the Queen of England and the Mayor of New York City. The West is done for.
For the most part, contemporary critics ignored the book, although as one reviewer conceded at the time, Raspail “was neither a prophet nor a visionary novelist, but simply a relentless historian of our future.”
And while some critics have labeled Raspail as a racist, he makes it plain that nationality can subsume ethnicity. In a 2011 interview, he observed that France is, in fact, a nation of many nations:
It is true that France is the product of a great and beneficial brewing background of Gallo-Roman sauce, Franks, Burgundians, Vikings, Visigoths, etc. Then Alsatians, Basques, Catalans , Jews of Alsace and Lorraine, Bretons, of Provence, etc., then Italians, Spaniards, Poles, Portuguese.
The point, though, is that all these disparate peoples came together to become French. At least, they had done so in the past. But the recent anti-Semitic violence and disturbance in France underscores the reality that continuous immigration from the Muslim world is clearly changing French politics–and France itself. If present demographic trends continue, one can look ahead to the day that France is no longer a European country instead, it will be the new northern boundary of the Maghreb–Muslim North Africa.
Yes, the same thing could happen here in the US. It’s not the soil that gives America its character it’s the people who live here. To be sure, demography is destiny.
Meanwhile, Raspail’s novel shows the author to be an old-fashioned nationalist he warmly describes, and vindicates, an instinctive defense of home and homeland. “Man never has really loved humanity all of a piece,” he writes that is, it’s inherent that we like some peoples and cultures more than others. That’s just human nature.
Describing the professor’s centuries-old house, Raspail writes, “Each object . . . proclaimed the dignity of those who had lived there–their discretion, their propriety, their reserve, their taste for those solid traditions that one generation can pass on to the next, so long as it still takes pride in itself.” Such possessions, and the ideas that connect them and give them value, are the vivid talismans of patriotism. Indeed, as another Frenchman, Emile Durkheim, once observed, nations survive only if they unite around common emblems of nationhood.
What Raspail has done, then, is summon up history in a lyrical defense of France. In the novel, the old professor–clearly, an allegorical symbol for the nation itself–muses aloud about long-ago Gauls who defended their homeland. “Had I been with Aetius,” he muses, thinking back to the Battle of Chalons in 451 AD, when the Franks beat back Attila’s hordes, “I think I would have reveled in killing my share of Hun.”
Girding himself further as he prepares to take up arms, the old man reflects on what it might have been like to fight alongside other past heroes of the realm, including Charles Martel, the Christian knight who defeated the Muslims at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD. In Raspail’s view, the heroic legends of the past should speak loudly to the present with their common message: Repel the barbarians.
Moreover, if Raspail is right about what motivates people to defend their homeland, he is equally right about what it takes to demotivate them. He is dead-on in his depiction of the systemic guilt-tripping that has crippled the defense of the West.
As another character exclaims to the open-borders advocates, “You want to destroy our world, our whole way of life. . . . There’s not one of you proud of his skin, and all that it stands for.” To which the multiculturalists answer: “Not proud . . . That’s the price we have to pay for the brotherhood of man. We’re happy to pay it.”
Indeed they do pay: They are all destroyed.
So now fast forward 40 years, to 2014: Europe is under demographic siege, and so is America. Raspail’s nightmare scenario is coming to pass on both continents Indeed, the current scenes along the US-Mexican border seem like a sequel to The Camp of the Saints.
In America today, the multicultural left–including, of course, the Obama administration–has made its position clear: It looks forward to the political and demographic dissolution of the United States.
So now, duly warned, every American patriot will have to decide for himself or herself: Is America worth fighting for, or not?