The imperial tree falls not because the challenges are too great but because the core of the tree has been weakened by the gradual loss of surplus, purpose, institutional effectiveness, intellectual vigor and productive investment.
by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds:
Comparing the American Empire with the Roman Empire in its terminal decline is a popular intellectual parlor game. The comparison is inexact on a number of fronts, starting with the nature of empire: Rome ruled a territorial empire, while the U.S. is a hegemony that doesn’t need to hold territory (other than key overseas military bases); its dominance is based on the global projection of hard and soft power, diplomacy, finance and the monetary regime of the reserve currency.
Despite the apparent difference, the two empires share the key characteristic of all enduring empires: they extract the cost of maintaining the empire from client states and/or allies.
The mechanisms differ, but the results are the same: the empire’s cost is distributed to those who benefit from its secure trade routes.
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