American Decline

Dangerous Flailing and Bellowing of the Beast: Throes of US Empire

By John Chuckman

Foreign Policy Journal

Washington, DC, from space. (NASA)

When I think of America’s place in the world today, the image that comes to mind is of a very large animal, perhaps a huge bull elephant or even prehistoric mammoth, which long roamed as the unchallenged king of its domain, but has become trapped by its own missteps, as caught in a tar pit or some quicksand, and is violently flailing about, making a terrifying noises in its effort to free itself and re-establish its authority. Any observer immediately knows the animal ultimately cannot succeed, but certainly is frightened by the noise and crashing that it can sustain for a considerable time.

I think that is a pretty accurate metaphor for the situation of the United States today, still a terribly large and powerful society, but one finding itself trapped after a long series of its own blunders and errors, a society certain ultimately to become diminished in its prestige and relative power with all the difficulties that that will entail for an arrogant people having a blind faith in their own rightness. America simply cannot accept its mistakes or that it was ever wrong, for Americanism much resembles a fundamentalist religion whose members are incapable of recognizing or admitting they ever followed anything but the divine plan.


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