The analysis below explains why all empires and "Imperial Style" governments have failed throughout history, and why our Empire-USA faces the same fate. The only question is whether the people and government of the USA have the wisdom and will to engage in a "Managed Decline" by terminating the empire and imperial conduct on their own schedule, rather than by chaotic crash of the US Dollar, economy, and lifestyle. Take notice of the "Solutions" section in Part C below.
Part A: Key Points
An Empire is a nation that: 1) Owns colonies, and/or 2) Controls, or has great influence over, other nations. Empires require economic and military strength to start and maintain, and this is expensive.
All Empires fail, and for the same reasons: 1) Expense of military abroad, and subsidies at home. 2) Decline in domestic productivity (spoiled, parasitic citizens). 3) Corruption (illegal conduct) and decadence (unethical and immoral conduct) by leaders and citizens.
Empire-USA: Our deal to other nations is: we will be the world’s policeman and protect you, but you must accept our fake money and "influence." The USA is far into Phase 3-Failure. Look around you for the symptoms shown in Part B-3 and Part C below.
Chart Height Shows Combined Military and Economic Strength (Power and Wealth)
Part B: Events/Symptoms in each Phase
Phase 1 – Growth
Land: Gain territory by "discovery" (too bad for the natives), or conquest.
Strength: Start growth of economic and military strength. Sound currency (precious metal, or convertible paper and convertible base-metal coins).
Government: Local and central government acts as a servant to protect the rights of citizens. No entangling alliances with other nations. New land is governed as a colony or part of homeland nation (becoming a sovereign republic may require a revolution). The army consists of volunteers protecting their homes and families, with no professional or standing army.
Ethics: Most government people and citizens are hard working and honest. Government is a servant.
Phase 2 – Maturation
Land: Add contiguous land, or remote colonies, by conquest or negotiation.
Strength: Become a world leader in both economic and military strength. Homeland receives cheap imports from colonies. Currency is debased to allow more government spending, without raising taxes.
Government: Grows stronger, more corrupt, and acts as boss, manager, nanny, owner, etc. Elected officials will do almost anything to retain their jobs. Power is used to manage other nations to impose/protect the Empire’s interests. The central government increases control (superiority) over local (city and state) functions, often based on its power to create money to fund local projects. A standing army is created and consists of mostly conscripts, and professional careerists. Wars become more oriented to building and defending the Empire.
Ethics: Corruption and decadence grow due to decline in personal responsibility caused by nanny state.
Phase 3 – Decline and/or Failure
Land: Lose colonies, or control of other nations, by revolution or voluntary release (due to expense and unrest).
Strength: No longer a world leader. Power declines by 50% or more, especially in foreign matters. Value of fake currency crashes in purchasing power by 50% or more. Default on debt (or pay off with low value paper money).
Government: Becomes weak, more corrupt, and desperate. Leaders try to gain power (decrees, martial law, etc.) to survive citizen discontent. "Bread and Circuses" grow, now called grants, subsidies, stimulus, and entitlements. The army consists of mostly professional careerists, and volunteers, many of whom join because they can’t find work elsewhere. Standards are lowered (criminal records, non-citizens, health issues) to aid recruiting for wars of empire (non-defense). Use of mercenaries and contractors grows toward 50% or more of total staff, and their loyaty is to their Generals (or Corporate officials), and original homeland, not the country that pays them.
Ethics: Corruption and decadence are rampant in both social and government conduct. Failure occurs as either: A) Nation survives, but at a reduced level of strength and standard of living (England, France, Italy, Spain, and Russia are examples; see list in Part D), or B) Ceases to exist due to takeover by other nations or groups.
Part C: Empire-USA is in Phase 3: Decline and/or Failure
High Expenses: The expense to maintain bases, and fight wars, worldwide exceeds the monetary and political benefits. The US has over 850 military bases, with troops (not counting embassies), in over 130 countries, and the US acts as the world’s policeman to protect its interests, and impose influence. Resistance by our "subjects" is building. Military expenses are a drag on the economy, and the troops get less than ideal equipment due to cost problems. Host nations are unhappy having our occupying troops.
High Debt: The US is a bankrupt Empire by any measure. It cannot hope to pay back over $13 trillion in national debt, or the about $50 trillion unfunded future obligations of domestic programs (Medicare, Social Security, etc.). Interest payments are huge. The US Dollar (USD) is still the world’s reserve currency (held as if gold by other nations; it can be viewed as a share in USA Inc.), despite the fact that the US is also the world’s biggest debtor, but doubts are rising in other countries who use and own dollars for trade. This combination has never occurred before in history! Thus, since all US government debt is denominated in USD, the government can create new low-value dollars out of thin air to pay its debts! A new form of default! The USD is in a precarious position due to excessive expansion of the money supply (inflation) and the USD could crash in value at any time. The extreme is hyperinflation, when the money becomes almost worthless. As with heroin, lots of fake money (the Federal Reserve Bank calls it liquidity) feels good at first, but has withdrawal pain called recession or depression. Since the Federal government never runs out of money, it often becomes the funder for state projects (with strings attached), and states’ rights wither. This gives vote-getting power to Congressmen, and acquiescent State officials suck it up to avoid taxing to raise state funds.