Humanosity says…In this article from Foreign Policy.com, author David Klion argues that failure in the centre-ground of US politics has left the United States up for sale to the highest bidder. The result is that the once-mighty American Empire is sick but the key question remains – is it on its deathbed?
In his classic Foundation series, Isaac Asimov imagines a Galactic Empire, governed from the city-world of Trantor, that has maintained peace and prosperity for thousands of years but that is teetering on the brink of decline.
In Azimov’s book, only one character recognises the dangers in what is happening and what the impact will be for the Empire.
As Trantor “becomes more and more the administrative centre of Empire, it becomes a greater prize,” a disciple says as he absorbs Seldon’s calculations. “As the Imperial succession becomes more and more uncertain, and the feuds among the great families more rampant, social responsibility disappears.”
Even though Asimov’s work was published at a time which is often characterised as the start of the American Empire, Klion argues that the description above could well have been written about the US in 2019.
He writes that in 2019 Washington is like
an imperial capital whose elite has transformed it into a great prize to be feuded over as surely as Asimov’s future empire did—and as other empires have done in the past.
He traces the roots of this imperial decline to the late 60s and 70s when the social contract that had worked so well in the 1950s started to break down. The economic shocks of the oil crisis and the disaster that was the Vietnam war.
In response, America’s political elites embraced privatization, deregulation, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, the outsourcing of industrial jobs, and the financialization of the economy. Inequality has skyrocketed ever since, and much of the United States has experienced a steady decline while a handful of major cities, including Washington, have become hyper-wealthy and almost unaffordable through the concentration of financial, tech, and media monopolies and their affiliated lobbyists.
He goes on to argue that the election of Donald Trump is a symptom of what’s gone wrong and the brazen way he has allowed foreign actors to buy access through his resorts and hotels reinforces the danger Azimov identified.
Yes the US is still the most powerful military in the world but Klion argues that it is no longer setting the agenda. He gives the example of the overthrow of Mohammed Mursi in Egypt.
In former White House advisor Ben Rhodes’s memoir, he describes President Barack Obama’s administration not as the driving force behind this coup but as the passive recipient of relentless pressure from its Saudi and Emirati allies, who waged an information campaign against the U.S. ambassador while plotting with the Egyptian military.
Those same forces can be seen at work in the recent decision by Trump to abandon the Kurds. Turkey and especially Russia have seized the strategic initiative leaving the US much diminished in the eyes of many.
As Klion puts it ” American power, however mighty, means nothing if it’s being used for the ends of the highest bidders.”
Foreign Policy is now subscription-based but if you sign up then you can get a limited number of free articles each month. They have excellent authors and great articles so Humanosity thinks it’s worth it.