The Inevitable Decline Of Great Powers: The United States Should Take a Cue From The Once Mighty Roman Empire

Civilizations come and go. This is a pattern seen all throughout recorded human history. They all have their humble beginnings, growing beyond their boundaries, and projecting Hard and Soft power across great swaths of of the globe before hitting a plateau and then waning. Just ask the Mesopotamians; the Persians; the Greeks, and finally the last superpower from where we derive many of our laws, culture and customs, the once thought of unconquerable Roman Empire.

(Symbol of the Roman Republic. Both superpowers used eagles in their emblems)

Great Powers such as these rarely collapse in one fell swoop, say from a massive military incursion from another power suddenly wiping them out; the Roman Empire and the United States, both, possessed enough Hard Power of their own, acting as an effective deterrent to any other rising power from attempting such a move. In the case of the Romans, collapse chiefly came slowly, chronically, and from within.

Rome saw it’s hegemonic strength begin to fray with the switch from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. A more tyrannical and strongman figure in the form of the Roman Emperor saw an abuse of political power, rampant corruption and as a result, the populace began to suffer from moral and ethical decay. Add to this a dumbing down of the people, being misled or misgoverned by the likes of Caligula and other less than exemplary leaders, and you see what’s arguably the toxic mix that began the internal crumbling of an empire that encompassed all of the Mediterranean, Britain, North Africa and pushing into the Caucasus, and later left this same empire sufficiently weakened as a result to sustained attacks from foreign invaders.

As the saying goes, “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes”.

(The capital of the world’s superpower in the 21st century, Washington, DC.)

Are we now seeing the same beginning to happen with the United States? Is the moral fabric of society and the same dumbing down of the masses in 21st century fashion contributing to a similar decay that may one day lead down the path of Ancient Rome? There are striking similarities between the two that provide a compelling argument. The United States has unquestionably become the hegemonic power of the world. Our Soft Power coupled with the ability to project our Hard Power is unparalleled. We also have used this Hard Power to extend our reach and influence, to the point where this has led to an overextension and overuse of our military might — much as in the Roman example. Foreign fighters have then used this opportunity to hit us while conducting overseas campaigns and recently, have also seen homegrown attacks begin to occur with more frequency. Add to this the dramatic events of this year’s presidential election, widely derided and panned across the globe as a spectacle, unbefitting the world’s sole superpower, and the rise of a strongman with tyrannical tendencies, one Donald J. Trump, elected by a mass of largely low information voters who ignored the litany of vulgarities and offenses said and committed — a list too exhaustive to name here in it’s entirety but easily findable through a Google search — as well as these same voters being massively duped by a barrage of fake news trafficked and circulated by non-reputable sites through social media as well as by foreign meddling by Russia, the United States’ chief hegemonic rival, and it’s not hard to see where real parallels can be drawn to the Roman Empire and The United States of America.

Will history rhyme or repeat itself? All signs point to an alarming “maybe”.

(Source: History.com, Ancient History Encyclopedia)

 

 

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Mauro
Co-Founder - Managing Editor

Mauro is an International Relations, Political Science & Tech/gadget guy exploring the world through ADHD colored glasses.

On his off-time, he’s a foodie, voracious reader and a champion for ADHD causes.

Astronomy rounds out his other varied interests.

On a weekend, you can find him relaxing, watching a good documentary on Netflix along with spending time with his family.