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Tuesday May 30, 2023, Zul-qaadah 10, 1444 Hijri

The Fall of the Roaming Empire

12 February, 2007

By Anwaar Hussain

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The American imperial behemoth finally lies panting at the sandaled feet of its nemesis, the ragtag resistance fighters, in the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan. Desperate attempts are on by the deniers to infuse new life into the flagging leviathan but alas, it is dying as sure a death as that of its masters’ dream. Albeit hideously so, even its death is promising to be spectacular. For the event will scatter far and wide, bits and pieces of the myth of American supremacy and the delusion of an empire.

Nothing can be sadder than the fact that a country that welcomed to its bosom victims of the abuse of other powers for centuries, finally became the greatest abuser of power itself. And in so doing, wrote its own epitaph.

The reason, as frequently is the case in the fall of empires, will be imperial overreach--that fatal roaming bug that spelled the end of most empires. From Philippines to Vietnam to South America to Afghanistan to Iraq and now to Iran…American Empire’s inevitable journey toward its grand finale suggests that it indeed has been administered the concluding dose by the colonial roaming bug.

Why it is happening is that America, drunk with its military power, stayed glued to its strategy of dominance while the world quietly passed her by. In her inebriated state, she failed to notice her rapid isolation and falling out of favor with most of the rest of the world and that, sooner or later, this universal dislike for Pax Americana was bound to result in an almost universal backlash.

It is happening because in far flung corners of the world, it tried to roughly shove down its targets’ parched throats its economic, political, and cultural packages with an un-oiled military ramrod, resulting in a natural throwing up by the subjects of this force-fed diet.

It is happening because America, riding bareback on the 'God is on our side' moral conviction, took on certain peoples who consider themselves as ‘God’s most chosen people’ with a certainty that blowing up themselves and others for their belief was a child’s play for them. The obvious result being that dialogue for problem solving became the first casualty in this clash of divinities. In the ensuing vicious game, the other side naturally became evil and crushing and exterminating in the name of God became the name of the game.

It is happening because America forgot that many other empires have had their day in the sun as superpowers before which others trembled. But today their crumbling ruins stand witnesses in mute silence to the fact that none were sovereign over the kingdoms of men for infinite times. All came to sad, inglorious ends.

It is happening because America failed to pay attention to the fact that Britain, its former colonial master and demonstrably the greatest empire the world has ever seen and where the sun never set, stands so withered today that now it hardly ever sees a sunrise. Within a generation it was history.

It is happening because America failed to notice that due to its arrogant display of ruthless power, some truly bizarre alliances have emerged in response in recent years. Fundamentalist Muslim countries like Iran are teaming up with godless atheist communist nations like China and Stalinist North Korea to trade oil, nuclear know-how, and deadly missile systems. And with Iran and North Korea rushing to produce nuclear arms, Russia and China refuse to whole heartedly support any meaningful UN action to prevent it.

It is happening because in doggedly threatening Iran, America absolutely refuses to see that most empires decay because in the end not only does the physical infrastructure become inadequate to sustain the frontiers, there is inevitably a loss of interest or will to sustain it due to hostile actions by neighbors. Like termite they continue to nibble away at the far edges.

It is happening because despite having a Judeo-Christian leadership at the helm of its command, it takes no heed of the warning contained in The Old Testament’s exclamation of, "How are the mighty fallen!" That remains one of the earliest recorded responses to the spinning wheel of fortune.

The spectacle of faded civilizations gives one a simultaneous sense of foreboding and nostalgia along with other practical considerations. The sense of history one gains from visiting a museum is staggering. For therein lie artifacts and remains from the great empires of history that marched across the sands of time—Egypt, Israel, Judah, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Objects from the reigns of ancient monarchs like Hezekiah, Sennacherib, Shalmaneser, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, and Herod almost leap to life from the glassed cabinets in dimly lit corridors of these museums.

As the Roaming American Empire does finally fall, however, all that its king, George W. Bush, is likely to add to that collection is a pair each of Levis jeans, cowboy boots, and a Stetson hat.

The irony is that, just like Shelley, at some point in future, a poet is likely to stumble upon the irresistible antiquity of America’s gloom and doom in the rubble of old realms and like him again conceive an ironic and admonitory epitaph : "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:/ Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

The epitaph of the American Empire, though, has long been written by one George Sutherland, that eminent US jurist and appointee to the US Supreme court before the Second World War. It reads,

“The saddest epitaph which can be carved in memory of a vanished freedom is that it was lost because its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while there was still time.”

Copyrights : Anwaar Hussain 

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