Oscar van Heerden | The star-spangled banner may yet fall

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The United States is facing up to the inescapable truth that its reign will end soon, argues the writer. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
The United States is facing up to the inescapable truth that its reign will end soon, argues the writer. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Oscar van Heerden writes the end of the US Empire is closer than we think but we should prepare ourselves for an all-out war, as the US is not going to leave without a fight.

It is a historical fact all empires come to an end. The most recent being the British Empire.

Many pundits agree their reign over the world came to an end when the UK handed back Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997.

The Roman Empire began with Augustus Caesar as the first emperor until its end under the leadership of Romulus Augustulus. The Ottoman Empire of the 13th century, and the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan, all came to a certain end in history.

We could, of course, spend much time debating the reasons for their respective endings and whether they fought to hold on to their empires come hell or high water, but this would be a futile exercise I suspect.

Instead, I will look at the current global empire and how it is facing up to the inescapable truth that its reign will end soon.

A few years ago, scholars were talking of the next 50 years or so when the US would lose its empire status. Now, I think that timeline needs radical revision. I foresee the fall of the American Empire in my lifetime with China and India standing in pole position to rule the world.

Of course, there are several reasons for the fall of empires, some being economic, military, logistics and cultural.
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When looking at the US though, it remains the largest economy in the world.

We also know its debt-to-GDP ratio is off the charts.

At the end of 2021, it was hovering at about 127.5%. China owns $981 billion in US debt. In other words, nearly a trillion dollars is what the US owes China.

On the military front, we saw the US spending $766.58 billion in 2020, and that's not the highest recorded.

In 2010, the US spent $865.27 billion on its military. It has 750 military bases abroad across 80 nations. The US have three times as many bases as all other countries combined. Talk about overstretching its resources.

READ | US on the brink of recession as economy shrinks again

All this because of American exceptionalism.

It is this exceptionalism that often implies it is both destined and entitled to play a distinct and positive role on the world stage. But others warn us of the four sins of America: racism, militarism, materialism and poverty.

Remember, some of the empires mentioned above, unravelled because of internal strife.

Racism rears its ugly head every now and again in the US and its presence is always felt.

Similarly, the divide between the haves and the have nots is ever increasing with crass accumulation the order of the day, with billionaires running out of ideas of how best to improve the world and hence deciding to rather play in space.  

The military industrial complex (MIC) has grown to staggering proportions, contributing more than 60% to US manufacturing and is an insatiable monster. It reminds me of the "Feed me, Seymore" line in The Little Shop of Horrors.

In just recent years - 20 years to be precise - we've seen numerous wars. Why is that? Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan are just some of the few examples that come to mind.

Picking a fight with Russia via a proxy war in Ukraine, why?

READ | Clem Sunter: On the brink of World War Three – The questions to ask

Then US Congress is asked to approve an arms package to the Ukraine amounting to billions of dollars. Is this what it's all about?

After all, war means cash in the pocket for some. Then there's US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's unwarranted visit to Taiwan, provoking China, which retaliated with numerous military exercises around the island nation.

This, in turn, led to - you guessed it - billions of dollars' worth of arms, military equipment, and so much more being, sold to Taiwan from the US. Go figure. 

Who is the biggest beneficiary of all this war and conflict? The US MIC. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics Corp and Northrop Grumman to mention a few. Wanting a showdown with powerful countries such as China and Russia cannot be good for the world.  

And here’s the kicker, y'all; when the time comes and sure as night follows day it will come, the empire will not go down without a fight.

Unfortunately, given the determination of the MIC and US wanting to hang onto their empire and its sole superpower status, I fear we must ready ourselves for all-out war and even nuclear catastrophe. 

And let me be clear to those who might want to argue I am being an alarmist; who is the only nation on the planet that used not one but two megaton nuclear bombs on another country? 

Donald Trump was not an aberration as many would like to argue. He was the embodiment of right-wing conservative sentiment, which is on the rise in the US.

If you ask the average US citizen whether we should drop that bomb to preserve our way of life, most will say drop that f…ker twice. This is the prevailing order we live in currently, and it's not good. 
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One of my favourite poems by Tennyson reads: 

"We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are

One equal temper of heroic hearts Made weak by time and fate

But strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield"

He could have been speaking about the US, if you ask me.

- Dr Oscar van Heerden is a scholar of international relations, where he focuses on the international political economy, with an emphasis on Africa, and SADC in particular. He is currently the deputy vice chancellor at the University of Fort Hare.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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