Just a few decades ago, the US empire was riding high. After helping put the Soviet Empire out of its misery, Washington declared itself the “sole superpower” and “indispensable nation” possessed of a mysterious “exceptionalism” that allowed it to do whatever it wanted anywhere in the world. The self-styled unipolar hegemon set out to arbitrarily inflict its values, corporations, and military bases on the whole planet, irrespective of the wishes of the inflictees.
Today, events have spun out of Washington’s control. China is becoming the world’s leading economic and technological behemoth; military primacy will soon follow. Russia is deploying advanced weapons that can devastate US forces anywhere in the world, making a joke of US plans to achieve a nuclear first strike capability. Even Uncle Scam’s EU lapdogs are yapping noisily and inflicting a few bites on Uncle’s ankles — including efforts to defy Trump’s sanctions on Iran by chipping away at US dollar hegemony in international trade.
Muslim-majority countries are recovering from post-9/11 US-Zionist intimidation. Iran leads the way by continuing to tread an independent, Islamic path, remaining defiant even as Trump unleashes the furiously barking but toothless mad dogs Bolton and Pompeo. Syria has prevailed against the Empire’s regime-changers, and is joining Lebanon, Yemen, and perhaps even Iraq in an Axis of Resistance opposed to Zionism and imperialism. Turkey has defeated a US-backed coup attempt and asserted inklings of independence. Malaysia and Pakistan have elected leaders who support the global 9/11 truth movement and are generally skeptical of US and Western power. Even US-occupied Qatar, a tiny country that punches above its weight thanks to natural gas exports and its al-Jazeera media empire, has defied the Trump regime and gotten away with it.
Washington’s loss of global political power stems from a larger process of Western civilizational decline. One key metric is economic. The US-EU share of global GDP is projected to decline from nearly 60% in 2000 to less than 30% by 2050. Another metric is population. The US birth rate has dropped to 1.7 children per woman. In Europe it is at 1.6, while in the biggest and most economically vibrant European nation, Germany, it is less than 1.5. These are all far below replacement levels.
Why is the West, led by its American flagship, facing such steep political, economic, and demographic decline? One way to approach the question is through the two best-known theoreticians of civilizational decline, Ibn Khaldun and Oswald Spengler.
Ibn Khaldun, who is widely regarded as the world’s first social scientist, argued that “civilized people” (that is, wealthy urban dwellers) grow soft, self-centered, materialistic, and decadent. Non-urban folk, who are tougher and more willing to sacrifice self-interest in service to the bonds of ‘asabiyah (tribal loyalty, love of one’s own people) soon succeed in taking the cities from their decadent custodians. A few generations later, the cycle repeats.
Oswald Spengler, influenced by Ibn Khaldun, developed a theory of the fixed life cycle of discrete civilizations. Spengler applied to the rise and fall of civilizations something like the Qur’anic notion, “…kullunyajri li-ajalinmusamma: …everything runs for an appointed time [and meets its end]” (13:2), which in this ayah from Surah al-Ra‘d describes the course of the Sun and Moon, but also applies to all created things, including human lifespans and the lifespans of civilizations.
Both Ibn Khaldun and Spengler understood that a God-given spiritual essence, a sort of Platonic ideal beyond space and time, determines the material rises and falls of civilizations. In considering these matters, we follow the Qur’an’s advice to travel the world and contemplate what became of the vainglories of illustrious civilizations that have crumbled into ruins. Specifically, the Qur’an urges us to notice a moral and ethical factor, “Say, ‘Go all over the earth, and behold what happened in the end to those who gave the lie to the truth!’” (6:11); and, “Say, ‘Go all over the earth and behold what happened in the end to those lost in sin!’” (27:69).
If lies and sin are key factors causing once-illustrious civilizations to collapse into ruins, the West in general and the US in particular are in trouble. Let us begin by considering “those who give lie to the truth.” The respect for truth in the US and the West has declined precipitously. We may chart this decline across the past few centuries as the Enlightenment undermined belief in God and shifted attention toward a secular-materialist, rational-empirical notion of truth. While the pursuit of empirical truths about the dunya bore economic and technological fruit, this was only because it was driven by residual religious morality. Once morality had withered away, “truth” became an arbitrary function of power, as Foucault and the postmodernists realized.
The triumph of power over truth in the West was summarized by Bush advisor Karl Rove in the wake of 9/11, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” But Rove’s arrogant boast got it precisely backward. It is the Empire’s lack of God-fearing respect for truth, its delusional belief that it can lie to the world and “create our own reality,” that will be its downfall.
The Qur’anic term that Muhammad Asad interprets in his translation, The Message of the Qur’an as “those lost in sin” is mujrimin, which might also be translated as criminals or evil-doers (to borrow a term from George W. Bush, who certainly fits the description). And just as the West is increasingly becoming the Empire of Lies, it is also falling ever deeper into sin, criminality, and depravity. And though the “crime problem” may be more evident in poor neighborhoods, it is the rulers who are the biggest criminals. The 2008 banking collapse, for example, was the product of systematic frauds that looted double-digit trillions of dollars from the public. Yet the bankers who carried out this, the world’s all-time biggest heist, have enjoyed absolute impunity. Not one of them has served a day in prison. On the contrary, they have been lavishly rewarded for their crimes with taxpayer-funded bailouts.
An even more disgusting example of the criminality of the Empire’s rulers is the case of Jeffrey Epstein, the Mossad pedophile pimp who apparently “owns” so many powerful Americans, including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, after furnishing them with child sex slaves to get blackmail film. As the Miami Herald recently reported, Epstein debauched hundreds of underage girls, got caught, and was barely offered a wrist slap by then-District Attorney Alexander Acosta, who was rewarded for his part in the cover-up with his current job as Trump’s Secretary of Labor. Apparently the most powerful men in America have reason to fear Jeffrey Epstein.
One could go on at length with examples of how America is riddled with oppression and injustice, how its manners and morals have declined, how its values are evermore debased and vulgarly materialistic, and how it increasingly worships at the altar of sexual deviance. Anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear, anyone who is not summun, bukmun, ‘umyun (deaf, dumb, and blind) and whose heart is not locked, sealed, or rusted must know this.
Where does it end? When does decline enter its catastrophic terminal phase and become out-and-out collapse? Only Allah (swt) knows but America’s has certainly begun.