How to rescue a falling Empire…

It appears we are finally beginning to see the blood-writing on the walls regarding the fate of the American Empire.  With a  slumping economy resulting in a reduced credit rating, a ridiculously national financial deficit brought on in no small part by ten plus years of Empire building/maintenance/whatever you want to call it, the degradation of moral authority due to causing so many unnecessary innocent deaths as a direct result of our military adventures, and the interventions we failed to make happen thanks to a military tied up in two major wars, we are certainly seeing some of the waning years in American hegemonic power within the global community.  It is a time of such dire straits for our national identity that several of our own key thinkers are already beginning to plan for the “post-American world”.  And yet, what possibly could such a world look like?  And where the hell is America going anyway?

Empire has been a constant theme throughout human history, and until now, virtually all of them have met almost the exact same fate.  After years or sometimes even centuries of fast-paced expansion, they eventually see their lines grow stagnant, the thrill of the frontier conquests grow cold, and the eventual implosion from within brought on by too many years of unsustainable policies and aided by emerging external threats which ultimately bring about the heavy-handed suicide blow to their own society.  And yet, at this time in history, at the ultimate farthest reach of American power, having learned well from the lessons of history we are not doomed to repeat the fatal errors of the empires of old…Indeed, we possess the unique opportunity in our time to fully and completely change the outcome of the game for our future generations.

So how does a falling Empire rescue itself from the brink of collapse?  Simple, it changes the rules of the game entirely.  For so long in human history, Empires have always revolved around the central rule set of a zero sum game.  Any power, political, economic, or cultural, gained by an outsider is effectively power lost by the Empire itself.  Therefor the goal has always been to consolidate as much power as possible and hold onto it at all costs relegating all other actors to the role of bit players and pawns in the Empires unquestionably hegemonic authority.  The inherent problem with this method is that power based on competition is ultimately fleeting and unsustainable as new and more ambitious players emerge (read in today’s terms as China, Russia, India, Brazil, etc) to challenge the central authority by any means available.  In our time, however this does not have to be case at all.  If we can only find the strength and courage within ourselves to change our rule sets from those based on competition to those based on cooperation.

By breaking forever with the zero-sum outcome of the failed Empires of yesterday, we can truly preserve both American relevance in through the next century and the spreading of American values and beliefs in spreading the good life to our brothers and sisters around the world.   We possess all the tools immediately before us, a powerful, intelligent, and deeply entrepreneurial youth which holds no memory of Cold War bi-polarism in its collective psyche, the most vibrant and still relevant economy on the face of the planet, a military that while broken and tired from ten years of conflict still remains capable as a force for settling future global security issues, and a deeply ingrained inherent desire to fix the world’s problems even though we may not fully understand them at the present moment.  With these tools, we can ultimately preserve our Empire not by holding others down below us, but by bringing them up to our level of connectedness and economic empowerment.  Our Empire might not thus be based on winners and losers but on winners and winners.

The merits and demerits of global capitalism as an economic form based on competition are far beyond the scope of this brief post meant only to put out another half-idea in a reasonable timeline, but before we find ways to refine it and develop it along more sustainable terms, we must work within the system as it exists today as a catalyst for powerful economic growth and improvements in quality of life (albeit sometimes extremely inequitable in nature).  And ultimately, I feel that the problems of capitalism may be inherently a moot point as while rule sets change so too will the nature of capitalist expansion and the global economy as a whole.

Coming to grips with your own identity is a natural part of growing up.  For individuals this tends to happen during the teenage years sometimes spilling over into the early twenties and is generally a time of poor decisions, high levels of risk taking, heavy drinking, and a few nice emotional and physical scars that will last a lifetime.  And just as most people I know would not trade these formative years for anything under the sun, so too should be the case with the awkward adolescence of the American Empire.  The past ten years have certainly led to quite a few youthful misadventures and yet our greatest consolation is the realization that on the back end of them that all is not lost, and indeed our rough lessons can only make us stronger as society and global community…that is, if we take the time to learn from them…

As for me, despite all my personal disagreements with American policies and cultural backwardness, there is no way I will ever be able to identify myself as anything but an American.  While I have chosen to make the world my home, and humanities calling my own calling, no matter where I end up I will always carry the same Americanisms that have carried me through the formative years of my youth.  After all, I am a graduate of perhaps the most “absolutely American” institution in the world and serve now as an officer in the American Army on the frontlines of one of my nation’s many (mis)adventures springing from the strategic coincidence that ultimately defined much of my youth and that of my peers.  All the advantages I have drawn throughout my life have come from the country which I will always in some way call home regardless of how far I may rest my head from its shores…In the end though, in an increasingly borderless world, your national identity matters much less than what you do with it and the bridges you build through the course of your lifetime…where you start is of much less importance than where you finish…

As we approach the ultimate tipping point of American power, I only hope we can truly redefine our rule sets and foster the global cooperation we so desperately need.  Our youthful misadventures and misapplications of power cannot long continue if we wish to see a sustainable, globally connected society emerge from the decaying world orders we are witnessing today.  In regards to their own security, Empires always possess the choice of whether to build walls or bridges.  In our time, I hope we turn to building more bridges with the global community.  And ultimately, that we not be too afraid to cross them…

That’s all I have for tonight.  May Peace be with you and may God Bless the New American Empire.



9 AUG 2011, 2215 AST, Orgun-E, Paktika Afghanistan


About briangdonnelly

I'm pretty much a random traveler and free thinker. Right now I live and work with the Army in North Carolina. I grew up in Missouri but am from the northeast US and have traveled a lot with the Army and life in general so I can't say I really have a "home" except where I chose to catch a few hours or rack each day. Overall, life is pretty awesome and I'm looking forward to changing the world. Hit me up if you care... Peace, Brian
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