“For these Romans I set no bounds in space work time; but have given empire without end,” Jupiter pronounced in Virgil’s Aeneid, demonstrating a sense of invincibility felt by the people of the Roman Empire in 208 BC. This confidence in the stability of Roman influence on the known world was without significant challenge for hundreds of years.
The Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, was a period of peace enforced with military machine. It lasted over two hundred years, with the Roman Empire itself lasting over a thousand years. The highly organized and lethal legions crushed any seeds of uprising swiftly and absolutely. Invasions consistently failed and revolts were destroyed. The Jewish people in Israel at the time have attested to the ruthless efficiency. Their territory of Judea was even renamed Syria Palaestina following the Bar Kokhba revolt in Rome’s effort to erase cultural identity.
The American Empire has evolved to become the modern equivalent of the Roman Empire. The United States boasts a highly advanced military that can respond to threats in all regions of the globe. Like the Roman Empire, the United States war machine has a mission to remain dominant.
The issue threatening the survival of the American Empire is the same sense of invincibility the Romans felt. Rome didn’t realize their downfall until it was too late. Tribes that were then fleeing from the Monguls in Europe accepted integration with Rome, joined ranks in the legions, and then attacked from the inside. The Britons in the North and Sassanids in the East fought unconventionally and somehow defeated entire legions. Rome began to abandon provinces and collapse went from impossibility to reality.
Another less distant comparison is the French Colonial Empire, which had a massive reality check to their perceived immortality in 1940. The French army had more tanks, canons, and soldiers than their German adversaries at the onset of WWII, and the world’s largest and most sophisticated line of border defense; the Maginot Line. Dig in and fortify: an entire defense based on an established strategy prevalent in WW1.
However, Germany fought with a new style. The Germans bypassed the Maginot Line through the “impassable” Ardennes forest, and engaged in lighting warfare. France fell in a month. A global empire controlling one third of Africa and boasting colonies from Vietnam to South America was reduced to nothing. No one thought it possible.
America is emerging into a similar condition. We currently dominate as the global superpower, as Rome and France once did. For over a century, our global power has been enforced by the massive vessels in the Navy and Air Force dispersed at strategically placed bases. With some mild research, it is evident that super power competitors are developing strategies to defeat our current defense plan. No longer does the United States have the only fifth generation stealth fighters. China now has the J-20, arguably better than the United States F-35.
Missiles are being developed to defeat every integral aspect of the American global defense strategy. Air launched cruise missiles (ALCM) now used extensively by China, Russia, and India can effectively destroy all types of United States aircraft. The United States boasts its sea power with ten aircraft carriers. No other individual nation has more than one.
Anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) along with supersonic cruise missiles delivered on long-range bombers have speed capabilities that can overwhelm defenses on every class of vessel in the United States Navy, even the carriers. The war game is changing. Empire is only secured with military might, and with the right opportunity and alliance we could be defeated in the near future.
Citizens of America are largely unable to see the frailty of the American Empire, or even the possibility of eventual collapse. Looking at historical patterns and current actions of competing nations does place the United States in a weaker position than we’d care to admit. With the amount of guns and fervent patriots, it’s unlikely that a domestic invasion would be easy.
The likely outcome is a collapse of Empire and the role of global superpower being replaced by superpower competitors (Russia, China, India or an alliance of some sort). United States oil power and Middle East influence will diminish. The Navy will be limited to defending coastal waters. International military bases will be abandoned.
No more will America lead the free world in political power and influence. The economy would falter because the low prices on goods, services and resources is dependent on the insurance of a global military. With a competing nation as the center of global power, United States advantage is no more, and even basic trade fairness can’t be assured.
Could America sustain as a more modest nation after the collapse of empire? Or will the United States succeed where Rome and France failed, maybe even lasting a thousand years?