Like the Titanic, America is sinking. But unlike the Titanic, America has not hit one but multiple icebergs. There are other differences as well. The captain of the Titanic was an honourable man. He went down with his ship. America’s captain, or captains, for it is ruled by an oligarchy, are not honourable men (and a few women as well). Like rats, they will jump ship as America sinks.
Lest anyone thinks this is too gloomy a picture, consider the facts. With the highest GDP in the world (although China may soon surpass it), the US is unable to tackle the pandemic that has claimed more than 210,000 lives and counting. It also has the highest number of infections in the world. Unemployment is soaring even as the super-rich rake in hundreds of billions in profits. At nearly $27 trillion, the US also has the highest debt in the world. It stands at 137% of its GDP and will exceed its total economy by 2021.
From coast to coast, American cities are on fire because of systemic racism and police brutality against people of color. Many inner cities look like war zones. With ‘third world’ like conditions, at least 40 million people live in absolute poverty. Homelessness is rising. And now there are growing fears that a civil war might erupt if Donald Trump loses and refuses to accept the November election results. Even a drum-beater of ‘American greatness’, Tom Friedman has sounded the alarm.
There are other grim statistics about America. At 2.3 million, the US has the largest number of prisoners in the world. More money is spent on building prisons to incarcerate more people of color after going through kangaroo-style court trials. The US healthcare system is broken as evidenced by the pandemic. And the country is awash with weapons of all kinds. Should a civil war break out, the consequences would be horrific.
The gangsters that rule America today are the inheritors of a system built on the genocide of Native peoples and centuries-long slavery. This same genocidal mindset has been at work in projecting American power beyond its shores. If ‘Manifest Destiny’ guided US policy at home, the myth of ‘indispensable power’ informed its policy abroad. Hundreds of millions of people have suffered American ‘benevolence’, delivered through cruise missiles or B-52 bombers, since the Second World War.
It would be tempting but wrong to assume that Trump alone is responsible for US failings. Narcissist, racist to the core and a certified crook, he is a symptom of the disease that had afflicted America at its very founding. Oscar Wilde’s quip that ‘America has gone from barbarism to decadence without going through civilization’ only partly reflects its reality.
With the largest military budget in the world—Trump boasted in his UN speech last month that the US had spent $2.5 trillion on its military in four years—it has a pathetic record of failures. While the US military can destroy—and it has done so indiscriminately anywhere it has set foot—it has failed to achieve any political or military objectives. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Cuba and Venezuela are only a few locales where the US military has lost.
Both Iran and Afghanistan are prime examples. Since the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, the US and its allies have tried to undermine the Islamic Republic. Despite inflicting massive suffering on the people through illegal and criminal sanctions, the Islamic leadership remains unbowed. Iran has extended its power in the region and is today the pre-eminent power.
The rag-tag band of Taliban—yes, the much-derided Taliban—have given the US military and its allies a bloody nose after 19 years of fighting. The US is seeking a safe exit out of the country. Afghanistan has once again proved to be the graveyard of empires. The US thought it would escape this fate; the Taliban have proved it wrong.
A number of thoughtful Americans (see here and here) have predicted the demise of the US empire—no empire remains ascendant forever—but the speed with which America is collapsing has surprised even its most die-hard critics. The world waits with baited breath to see the final collapse of this criminal entity. The world would be a much safer place without the US bully even if another hegemon or a group of hegemons emerge to take its place.
Perhaps the long-suffering people of the world can finally take a deep sigh of relief.