Monday, July 22, 2024

We are witnessing a unique historical event ÔÇô the fall of an empire

The fact that about every language has its version of what Batswana idiomatically express as “O se bone nong go rakalala, go ya tlase ke ga yone” (what rises must fall) shows the extent to which cultures around the world recognise the inevitability of fall from grace.  In a geo-political context and with no exception, towering empires that once seemed invincible have come tumbling down.

Some parts of present-day Botswana formed the once mighty 15th century kingdom of Mutapa that collapsed in 1629. A century earlier, up north was the vast Malian Empire whose glory days peaked under Mensa (Emperor) Musa. Musa’s Mali, which encompassed all or parts of modern day Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad, was the largest producer of gold in the world. To date, Musa holds the record of the wealthiest person of all time.

Not too far from Mali is the Middle East where the first Persian Empire took root in 550 B.C.E. and established the modern template of empire. This empire ruled over a greater percentage of the world’s population than any other empire in history. Some 70 years after its founding, the Persian Empire had 44 percent of the global population and became the first to connect multiple world regions. There was also the Roman Empire, the Caliphate which ISIS unsuccessfully tried to bring back, the Mongol Empire and the British Empire. The latter collapsed after World War II and has been replaced by the United States Empire.

The US is the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP, holds largest share of global wealth, is the foremost military power in the world, has the highest rate of per-capita vehicle ownership in the world and is an unparalleled leader in technological innovation and scientific research. Yet, the one consistent lesson from history is that each empire, no matter how formidable, will certainly come to an inglorious end. The fall of the American Empire was always going to happen and has been hastened by the rise of its current leader, President Donald Trump.

Johan Galtung, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated sociologist, who accurately predicted the 1978 Iranian revolution; the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989 in China; the economic crises of 1987, 2008 and 2011; the 9/11 attacks; and ascendance of a Trump-like character, has predicted that the US Empire will collapse in 2025. A King Mudas, Trump is the exact opposite of King Midas: whereas what the latter touched turned to gold, what Trump touches turns to mud. Under him, the US will definitely turn to mud. Using “declining moral values and political civility at home, an overconfident and overextended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government” as evidence, the former Comptroller General of the US, David Walker, said in 2007 that the US Empire will collapse the exact same way the Roman Empire before it did.

What we are witnessing with the emasculation of the US is historic. Not every generation witnesses an empire collapse and it can take centuries for that to happen. However, there is something else unique about this historical moment. Typically, empires last at least a century but the US, which rose to prominence after World War II, will make history by falling short of that standard.


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