Opinion | A needed lesson in history for the US: past events foreshadow America’s inevitable decline
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 00:10
I come from a small, post-Communist country, called Bulgaria as an exchange student, majoring in business and political science. I consider myself to be very lucky as I get to see the political game and the presidential campaigns in the USA and I have been following every major event, especially the debates since arriving on American soil. I have watched every possible commercial and have observed students debating furiously over their preferred candidate.
However, one thing eludes the American people—no change in government shall prevent the decline.
Of course, I do not expect any person that experiences even the slightest sentiment for his or her own country would agree with me.
But that is why Americans need a lesson in history—in order to grasp the inevitability of their decline.
There has been no empire or country in the history of mankind that has managed to sustain its prosperity of an extended period of time.
The Roman Empire experienced unprecedented prosperity and expansion through military means that reached Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean and contributed one of the most influential ideas such as representative democracy and the basis of law.
However, when one traces their history, the Roman Empire follows a traditional curve. It started from a small power and expanded aggressively, reaching its peaking point of the curve and then slowly, but surely started to roll down and decline, only to be consumed by the barbarian tribes that overcome its provinces and sacked Rome.
The Byzantine Empire followed in the same steps, expansion, prosperity, amassing incredible wealth and knowledge for the era, only to be swept by a tidal wave, called the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Empire came into Europe, sundering and absorbing nations at an extremely rapid pace. Regional powers such as Bulgaria, Serbia and the mighty Byzantine Empire fell very fast and the Ottoman Empire became the Hegemonic power in the Eastern part of Europe and the Balkans. Then it attempted aggressive expansion into the rest of Europe as such it was the character of the empire and the policies of its ruler—the Sultan. Again it followed the same historical curve trajectory.
For an extended period of time, it climbed its way to the top and it threatened the existence of the entire notion of Western Europe. However, it could sustain its prosperity as it fell behind technologically and began loosing all of its major battle, thus sliding down the curve until it reached the null point and the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist.
Just take a look at ancient history and modernity. There has always been a shift, a change in the leading world hegemonic powers. The biggest and mightiest empires – Egypt, Mongolia, Babylonian, Persian, the UK and many more have followed the same path. Some have evaded the breaking point but could not sustain the prosperity and their influence over an extended period of time and with the world become more and more inter-connected and interdependent the faster a country could rise to power or fall from grace.
For a century now, the USA has held this position—there is no debate in this. It rose from the destructive Civil War to be the world’s leading economy, to have one of the most efficient judicial systems and most importantly, to be viewed as an escape from tyranny and a place where dreams can indeed be achieved through hard work and dedication. It helped the Allies win World War II.
But all the glories and riches that made the USA so attractive for foreigners have slowly begun to erode.
Incomes have been diminishing, outsourcing has taken away a lot of manufacturing jobs and a foreign debt that has almost reached 100 percent of gross domestic product, and none of the current candidates have a clear idea on how to deal with those issues. But then how can you tell an American during a presidential campaign that those manufacturing jobs will not come back and that the foreign debt will continue to increase as long as there is incredible and unnecessary military and government spending.
These phenomenon marks clearly the decline of the USA, a decline that every major world power has to experience and go through. Of course, the decline will not be bloody and violent, and the USA will never reach the null point on the curve. But it will slide down gradually and irreversibly at least for the next decade.