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Thread: The Future of the American Empire

  1. Regular Member
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    #11
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    This was an interesting article. I remember I took a class in high school and on the first day my teacher told us that the timeline historians have given for the length of an empire is around 200 years before things start crumbling. In that case, America should be on its way out. What that will look like depends on a number of things, but that was covered in the article.

    Our global power is waning, both abroad and at home. I don't really have any data to back any of this up, this is all anecdotal, but it seems that people abroad are sick of Americans being Americans. They are (rightfully) critical of our government, economic and social inequality, poor infrastructure, etc. At home, people seem to be more and more isolationist. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have exhausted the American public. People want us to pull out of MENA, they don't want to send boots on the ground to fight ISIS, they didn't want to intervene in Ukraine, they want us to pull out of trade deals and treaties and international agreements. I'd say a lot of this is reflected in the current administration, especially if you consider things like travel bans to be part of isolationism.

    If we're failing, I don't think it's as an empire necessarily, unless you count single hegemonic states as empires. But I don't think we'll be the world's sole hegemonic power for very much longer. Our government at home will likely remain stable. A lot of people have this fear that if the US loses hegemony, the government will collapse and suddenly it'll be anarchy. I seriously doubt that will happen, as we usually bounce back from most domestic issues. But the impact it'll have on international politics will be larger, of course. A lot of global or international institutions, like the UN and NATO, have the US at the center of them. It'll be interesting to see how polarity affects them in a post-Cold War world.

    The fear of a "yes" answer probably comes from hegemonic stability theory. The idea is that having one hegemon in the world makes for a more stable international playing field. Polarity is dangerous (think of the constant threat of war during the Cold War), but having one world superpower makes war much less likely because that one power can dominate international politics. If a superpower falls, it can undermine the stability of the international community because international relations is anarchic.

    I think the biggest threat to America's position of power is a potential war with North Korea. We have the president threatening nuclear war with a rogue nuclear state ON TWITTER. The fact that DPRK isn't part of the NPT and refuses to let the IAEA in for inspections gives me a lot of fear about what would happen in conventional war. War with North Korea also almost definitely means war with China, too. It would be another proxy war -- the US would support ROK, China would support DPRK, and suddenly we have polarity in the international system again.

    What happens to "American exceptionalism" almost entirely depends on the next few years. Pulling out of the TPP and Paris Accords, and an (unpopular) increased presence in the Middle East is already having effects on our hegemony. Who knows what the Trump administration will do next.

    Dang, this turned into a small essay Can you tell what my major is? I nerd out about this stuff. So TLDR: I think we'll be fine domestically for a while, but if we go to war with North Korea, America as a sole superpower is done for.
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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by _andimcosette View Post
    This was an interesting article. I remember I took a class in high school and on the first day my teacher told us that the timeline historians have given for the length of an empire is around 200 years before things start crumbling. In that case, America should be on its way out. What that will look like depends on a number of things, but that was covered in the article.

    Our global power is waning, both abroad and at home. I don't really have any data to back any of this up, this is all anecdotal, but it seems that people abroad are sick of Americans being Americans. They are (rightfully) critical of our government, economic and social inequality, poor infrastructure, etc. At home, people seem to be more and more isolationist. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have exhausted the American public. People want us to pull out of MENA, they don't want to send boots on the ground to fight ISIS, they didn't want to intervene in Ukraine, they want us to pull out of trade deals and treaties and international agreements. I'd say a lot of this is reflected in the current administration, especially if you consider things like travel bans to be part of isolationism.

    If we're failing, I don't think it's as an empire necessarily, unless you count single hegemonic states as empires. But I don't think we'll be the world's sole hegemonic power for very much longer. Our government at home will likely remain stable. A lot of people have this fear that if the US loses hegemony, the government will collapse and suddenly it'll be anarchy. I seriously doubt that will happen, as we usually bounce back from most domestic issues. But the impact it'll have on international politics will be larger, of course. A lot of global or international institutions, like the UN and NATO, have the US at the center of them. It'll be interesting to see how polarity affects them in a post-Cold War world.

    The fear of a "yes" answer probably comes from hegemonic stability theory. The idea is that having one hegemon in the world makes for a more stable international playing field. Polarity is dangerous (think of the constant threat of war during the Cold War), but having one world superpower makes war much less likely because that one power can dominate international politics. If a superpower falls, it can undermine the stability of the international community because international relations is anarchic.

    I think the biggest threat to America's position of power is a potential war with North Korea. We have the president threatening nuclear war with a rogue nuclear state ON TWITTER. The fact that DPRK isn't part of the NPT and refuses to let the IAEA in for inspections gives me a lot of fear about what would happen in conventional war. War with North Korea also almost definitely means war with China, too. It would be another proxy war -- the US would support ROK, China would support DPRK, and suddenly we have polarity in the international system again.

    What happens to "American exceptionalism" almost entirely depends on the next few years. Pulling out of the TPP and Paris Accords, and an (unpopular) increased presence in the Middle East is already having effects on our hegemony. Who knows what the Trump administration will do next.

    Dang, this turned into a small essay Can you tell what my major is? I nerd out about this stuff. So TLDR: I think we'll be fine domestically for a while, but if we go to war with North Korea, America as a sole superpower is done for.
    I vehemently (respectfully) disagree.


  3. Regular Member
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    #13
    Quote Originally Posted by bdizzle View Post
    I vehemently (respectfully) disagree.
    May I ask why?
  4. "...now do Classical Gas"
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    #14
    Excellent. I was hoping you would chime in.

    Quote Originally Posted by bdizzle View Post
    See I already disagree with you. And it's probably because I'm American. American exceptionalism isn't bullshit. The British had their empire. The Ottomans. The Arab Spanish. Golden ages. Arguably ours is the 20th-21st century. (though you could say 18th and 19th too if we're talking technology/industry) But ours is *different*. There is no story quite like the American one.
    WHY is it different?

    Every great power there has ever been has said "we're different. We're special. The things that happened to every other example ever in the history of the world won't happen to us". They all rationalised it as them somehow being uniquely gifted and special, with a special role to play in the world. The British were masters of this self-perception - benevolent imperialism, the shining light of civilisation carried to all the darkest corners of the world...they more or less invented the concept of white man's burden specifically to rationalise the way they ran their affairs, and they saw no reason why they should ever fall from the top of the mountain. Until they did.

    What, in America's case, makes the statement actually true? It's never been true for anyone else - they may endure in the sun for a long time, for centuries in some cases, but never forever - so why you?

    You're intelligent enough that I genuinely want to know how you explain it.

    There's much that's good in America. There's much that's admirable. But I sincerely doubt you're so special that you can permanently defy the forces that have claimed literally every scalp before you.

    You're right, it won't be at this exact second. It may not be for decades, assuming all going to plan and the checks you built into the system continuing to function. But eventually, the hyperpower that is America now is going to go away.


    Since you ask, I'm 32. And yes, I DO know your history fairly well. I have to, since I can't understand mine without it.
    If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell
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