I am concerned that our nation will fail in the manner that most great nations will fail. The purpose and vision, the vitality of the nation erodes into petty conflict; there are no people, there is no country, simply a gathering of lands. As in the Western Roman Empire, governance falls into brutal and incompetent hands, as the consequence of the lack of interest in civilization, and the pursuit of barbarism.
A friend offered:“(The country) needs to be robust in order to do that (enforce Pax Americana. ) History is repleat(sic) with nations which no longer exist because they were unable to protect themselves.” I find that shows a limited appreciation of history. Most nations die in their sleep.
At the end, of course, the vanquished are taken by a military operation and movement; the weak core of the resistance is crushed. Berlin, yes, fell. The victor rides in in military splendor; thus, people imagine that the country has fallen because it was unable to protect themselves by arms. The fall of the Soviet Union was a great counterexample – no fanfares, no bugles; it just fell. That was an example for the world, that the “military threat” from the outside is usually the small vanguard of enemies who ride in under arms. They are the Riders of Death; they, as Captain Willard sought Col. Kurtz, are merely delivery boys, going to collect a bill; perhaps to bring the lost to redemption.
When the Red Army entered Berlin, the Third Reich had already passed away. A few were hanged in Nuremberg, but they were already dead men walking; relics of a vanished world who were dispatched to a nightmare of history which had already been cut loose by the Fates, released from the present unto history by Atropos‘ shears.
If you look carefully, such as the case of the conquest of Istanbul/Constantinople at the end of the 15th century, the Saracens – who face Mecca then and now – broke into the walls of Constantinople. They selected a remote section of the defenses, and easily overtopped them. They were shocked to march by little ghost towns in the massive city of Constantinople – abandoned, weed-covered, unused and unpopulated, acres, miles of suburbs with no people. The Saracens took a Constantinople which was a tiny remnant of what it was during its heyday. The falling was over, long before the final combatants were even born.
And yes, at the tiny core, there was a small compressed, ancient and traditional place that was and still the Roman Empire. [The reason that we do not call the fall of Constantinople the end of the Roman Empire, is largely because of bickering between the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox.] Two thousand years of history died that year, yes indeed; but what was snuffed out was only a withered husk of a nation. The huddled few in their finery lived in a madhouse of liturgy deriving from a vanished empire. Mehmet took pity on them.
On another topic, the Terror of Iran – To fear and hate the Persians is insane, especially if we do it from racial grounds. There was no Islam in the days of Thermopylae, a millennium before Mohammed. Were the Persians ignorant?
Ask Alexander the Great, who was taught by a hired teacher named Aristotle. Yes, that Aristotle. So don’t name-drop about your kids’ teachers at the Academy. A the G had Aristotle as a private tutor.
Was Leonidas great? So-so, he was a Spartan. His country should not be confused with anything like a decent civilization. The reason that Leonidas was renown and not despised – for his greatest battle came to nothing, as the Persians came in the back door which he never locked – was his stand at the gates of Thermopylae.
As the weapons culture reminds everyone, molṑn labé, said the Greeks. You asked for our
weapons, but they are right here – come and take them if you wish. The Battle of Thermopylae was, as is offered in Wikipedia, a romantic and practical example of war. “Both ancient and modern writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the power of a patriotic army defending its native soil. The performance of the defenders is also used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain as force multipliers and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds.”
There is another law of military preparation which has shown up in hundreds of examples, but doesn’t seem to be written down.
“A senile country or incompetent king can be inspired by arrogance or frightened by enemies into recklessly spending the vital wealth of his country in armaments. Once such expenditure is planned, it is nearly impossible to stop, as it takes prudence and wisdom. A country can be destroyed this way without firing a shot.”
That is the epitaph of the USSR; that is the effect of the Thatcher/Reagan policy, which had been going on for some time. Unfortunately, it may need to be revised as the Thatcher/Reagan/bin Laden Plan”. Crashing airplanes in the US on 9/11 provoked a response, much of it wasted time, money and energy, in operations which we are now uncertain if they were effective. They cost us $1.7 Trillion. Now it is us who see ourselves surrounded by enemies about to strike.
“Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, and Linda Bilmes of Harvard University, have stated the total costs of the Iraq War on the US economy will be three trillion dollars in a moderate scenario, described in their book The Three Trillion Dollar War and possibly more in the most recent published study, published in March 2008. Stiglitz has stated: “The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions…Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.” (Wikipedia)
“The U.S. outpaces all other nations in military expenditures. World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015. The U.S. accounted for 37 percent of the total. U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined.” (National Priorities)
Democracies would consider the allocation of these sorts of funds as a choice, a plan that people could approve or disapprove of. But it is cloaked in such urgency that no upstanding non-ISIS-loving American can say no. We were told about the risks; we were told wrong. The British have published the Chilcot Report, stating “Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to British interests, that intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction was presented with unwarranted certainty, that peaceful alternatives to war had not been exhausted, that the United Kingdom and United States had undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council, that the process of identifying the legal basis was “far from satisfactory”, and that a war in 2003 was unnecessary.”
In the year 2000, the national debt was $5,674 Billion; the GDP (an ever-more-shifty number) was $10,357 Billion. The debt represented 54% of our annual GDP.
In the year 2016, the national debt was $19,573 Billion; the GDP was $18,657 Billion. The debt represents 105% of our annual GDP.
We’re running short about a trillion a year. That’s not Bush Deficit or Obama Deficit; that’s OUR deficit. I’ve shown before that we’re inflating the currency at about 9%/year, but we’ve managed to keep it from hitting the domestic markets by some very clever shenanigans. We will run out of wiggle room soon. Perhaps the Insiders have calculated that our fiscal Maya Calendar ends in the next four years; they picked some poor boob to take the fall for it. Trump couldn’t run fast enough from the stink, and the Devil took the hindmost.
“He survived the fall; but the sudden stop at the end killed him.˝
At what point do we surrender? If the Evil Muslims from Mordor, those inhuman Orcs, force us to spend ourselves into bankruptcy, is that not the same as if we surrendered to them? Nearly, but not quite.
You see, if we can boost our military spending by 10-15% (500-700 Billion) and we flush a trillion a year into shortfall already, we can add that up and jam another trillion a year into the infrastructure; well, times four years, and we have ten trillion more on the books, that’s about a $30 trillion dollar debt after four years, if we don’t ask Mr. Trump to keep doing the same stuff. The Chinese have become our foster children – we give them the debt and let them figure it out. The US population will be a neat third-of-a-billion, so we’ll be handing off $100,000 per-person debt to the kiddo’s after
four years. Don’t worry, we’ll borrow more from the Communist Chinese, even though Donald just pushed a stick into their eye. They’ll get over it, right? Right?
If the Evil Muslims from Mordor, those inhuman Orcs, force us to spend ourselves into bankruptcy, is that not the same as if we surrendered to them? NO. If we surrendered to the Orcs, they would have our whole country. If we fight on this way in our fruitless delaying action, doing the same thing with one inevitable outcome possible, then some day – some day in the future – some American Constantine XI Palaiologos, son of a noble line – a Hillary Clinton III, or perhaps George Bush VI, or Warren Trump or other scion of a storied and noble family accustomed to the Presidential Papacy, will woefully lay down the luxuries in which their people have lived at the heart of Washington.
Long ago, Outside The Beltway fell into disuse; the exurbs in Maryland and Virginia gone back to raising crops once all the foundations have been torn out of the fields.
In the eyes of the peasants, the flyovers, nothing has happened; the decline that began long before 2016 continues in flyover land. Washington, like the old Roman Empire, becomes merely a ritual visit from the tax collector, who is often shot in the dangerous wilds of America. The Government no longer comes to help you; but more significantly, they can’t organize a way to tax you anymore. The empire contracts to a ring of roads around Maryland’s coastal swamp, where a once-populous townlived.
Now, all that exists is clustered around the Mall, the outlands no longer dangerous and Black, but empty and desolate and overrun with ailanthus trees thrusting up the pavement, empty.
Here’s how I see the Fall of Washington in centuries ahead, a repeat of the Fall of Constantinople. If we keep on the same path as Constantinople, the Noble Families in New York and on the Hamptons on The Island, the Harvard University and such to the northeast, and the Mall will long remain, and they will have silks and gold for decades. The great Palaiologos – think George VI or Hillary III – stands on the Capitol steps, as the barbarians sweep up Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps the invaders won’t be the barbarians from Flyover Land who are storming Washington – perhaps the new, nameless Sultan Mehmet II is some odd Indian/Central American nationalist movement that still believes that Washington is Washington.
But as the invaders march through the sad and empty ruins outside the Beltway, and enter the city against scattered resistance at the West Gate, the host marching down Massachusetts Avenue with flanks on Wisconsin and MacArthur Boulevards, the invaders see nothing but feral, tree-riven pavement, empty ruins, and the occasional village of a few families who can farm the ancient parks. Not even dogs.
This is Washington? Where IS Washington? But for a few hundred years, the Washington they imagine is long gone. The invaders’ plan to swing over to 16th Street is abandoned – there’s certainly nothing to take over there. There is no hint of civilization until a small Elite Republican Guard, woefully undersupplied, was brushed off into the ruins of Georgetown and pinned down there. Probes to Dupont Circle and Downtown came back reporting no hostiles, no people. A small detachment of invaders to the White
House area reported that it had been abandoned decades ago. Rather than swinging south to the Pennsylvania Avenue area, they proceeded to Union Station brushing aside tiny impromptu militias of courtiers and clerks with pistols. Louisiana Avenue to New Jersey Avenue bypasses the trap of the office buildings on First Street – that’s a nasty bottleneck, ripe for guerrilla resistance, which had begun to pick up a bit. Suicidal to go down First Street. And then, the glory of Constitution Avenue!
The Capitol seemed well-maintained, the streets clean and the parks cared-for. Thousands of eyes peered at them from thousands of windows. To the Capitol. The glory of the Capitol, with silk hangings and ornaments, busts of solid gold, even electricity! And air conditioning!
The Chief climbed the steps, surrounded by a small bodyguard and contingent. The Republican Guard motioned the leaders of these invaders into the West Antechamber, near the Throne Room.
The President of the Country was there, and the President of the Senate and Chief Justice. The Speaker of the House had fled, as had the Vice-President. The room was festooned by incredible riches – silk hangings and patterns, gold and silver everywhere, sweet incenses and gorgeous paintings. What a gorgeous prize!
The army of the invaders was restless; they wanted to loot. Forays into the empty villages outside the Capitol showed only poor fare and nothing worth looting. No meat, the people had no meat. After turning over their villages, the invaders just burned them – there was nothing to take from them except a little grain. No cattle, no swine. Only the Capitol nobility dined on meat. Their cattle and pigs grazed the Mall, under careful watch. But the orders did not allow the army to loot indiscriminately; they only knew about the people’s belongings, from the villages they had accidentally overrun on the way into Washington.
That is how countries fail. The elite and powerful become segregated into a tighter group; their control over Flyover Land becomes tenuous, the Outside slips away from their control. The elite remain awash in luxury and ritual – the old empire never dies, but it becomes miniaturized. Yes, the New Sultan marches on Washington; but Washington is not Washington, but a sad and inbred little clique of potentates, pretending that they are heirs of the Might and Glory of the old Empire.
They forget how to govern; they do not live for the people, and soon enough, not even with the people. Like the Pharaos, they live in a bubble of riches unconnected with the country.
That is what happens when countries fall to invasion. It is not the might of the invaders, but the enfeeblement of the country from within. Neil Young might say that it’s better to burn out than it is to rust. We have been rusting a long time now.