The Fall of the US Empire - And Then What?
ISBN: 978-82-300-0492-0
Year: 2009

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The Fall of the US Empire - And Then What?

Successors, Regionalization or Globalization? US Fascism or US Blossoming?

This book explores the why, how, when and where of the present decline and fall of the US Empire, based on a theory of synergizing contradictions used in 1980 to predict the fall of the Soviet empire. It then maps possible futures for the US and the world, with a blueprint for a desirable global future. This book is best read as a companion to Peace Economics: From a Killing to a Life Enhancing Economy.

Author: Johan Galtung, born 1930 in Oslo, Norway. Lives in Spain, France, Japan and the USA and is mainly engaged in mediation and research. He founded TRANSCEND: A network for Peace and Development, in 1993, and is the rector of TRANSCEND Peace University.


Johan Galtung


Successors, Regionalization or Globalization?
US Fascism or US Blossoming?

Table of Contents



1. Peak Empire: The Magic is Gone
2. The Fall of Empires: Concepts and Theories
3. The Soviet Case: Six Contradictions
4. The US Case: Fifteen Contradictions
5. Economic Contradictions
6. Military Contradictions
7. Political Contradictions
8. Cultural Contradictions
9. Social Contradictions
10. The Fall of the US Empire: With a Bang or a Whimper?


Global: Successors, Regionalization or Globalization?
11. Successor Candidates from the Fading State System
12. Regionalization: Seven Regions, And Then What?
13. Globalization: From Above, And Also From Below
14. Globalization: History and Sociology
15. Globalizing Citizenship
16. Globalizing Human Rights
17. Globalizing Democracy
18. Globalizing Economic-Military-Political-Cultural Power
19. Globalizing Communication and Identity: The Swiss Model
20. Globalizing Foreign Relations: Weltinnenpolitik

Domestic: US Fascism or US Blossoming?
21. Cassandra: The Case for US Fascism
22. Polyanna: The Case for US Blossoming
23. Some Forces from Within
24. Some Forces from Without
25. Economic Reconstruction: Basic Needs, Equity, Environment
26. Military Reconstruction: Solving Conflicts, Defensive Defense
27. Political Reconstruction: Listen to the People
28. Cultural Reconstruction: Dialogue For A New Enlightenment
29. Social Reconstruction: Play by the Rules for a New Solidarity
30. The Obama Phenomenon: The First Ten Days

The Roman Empire And Western Imperialism Compared

31. Introduction
32. The Rise and Decline of the Roman Empire
33. The Rise and Decline of Western Dominance
34. Conclusion

Bibliography for Part Three

Notes for Part Three


A Sample of Some Pertinent Literature

Bibliography for Parts One and Two

Notes for Parts One and Two and the Epilogue



Let me start with a personal anecdote.
I was a little Norwegian boy, 11 years old, in 1941, under German occupation. Hitler was victorious everywhere, almost all of Europe was occupied, the Soviet Union was invaded. The other Axis powers, Italy and Japan, were equally victorious.
Enters the hero of this little story: my father, then 60, a physician, former politician, retired officer in Norway's army. In the year 1900 he was awarded the best note in the War College in tactics--on the problems of a bicycle platoon, hiding between some farmers' hedges, protecting Norway from Swedish invaders bent on keeping the Norway-Sweden union. Actually, that "union" was dissolved peacefully in 1905, and maybe not so much because of the bicycle platoon as because of some built-in absurdities. But, drawing on his legitimacy, my father declared that "Hitler has no chance, he will lose--mind my words--around Easter, or Christmas".
It did not look like that. So I went to him and asked my father, how can you say that? Hitler and his allies hold on to almost everything, including us, Norway! He looked at me with his "how much can a little boy understand" look, and said with a smile: "Because he does not know when and how to stop".
I never forgot those words. Some may not like that I compare Hitler and the US Empire in this preface; no doubt, Hitler's empire was uglier and more stupid (see the superb study by Mark Mazower, Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe); except, maybe, in numbers killed, the domain covered, and the depth of the scope, counting from the beginning in 1607-1620. But the basic logic is the same. And maybe a point could be added to my father's theory: even if Hitler had an idea of the when and the how to stop, he had a heavy why in favor of continuing: he needed more resources to feed his empire and to crush the resistance forces that tend to overpower anybody, including a Hitler. The war fed on itself. History ushered in Pearl Harbor, the USA entered the war. Stalingrad came, the Red Army started advancing instead of retreating. Things happened in the Libyan desert. When Normandy came 06-06-44 my father was in a nazi concentration camp in Norway as hostage, and for his underground resistance work. He was let out the day President Roosevelt died, 12 April 1945. Spring was there, trees sprouting. Around Easter. And The Nazi Empire fell.
The same now happens to another world problem. The problem has a name, The US Empire. Let me only add two key points:
Hand on heart: I love the US Republic where I have lived much of my life, as much as I hate the US Empire for its violence of all kinds in so many places around the world. The book is as pro-American as it is anti-US Empire. The first country to blossom when the US Empire falls could actually be the US Republic itself.
Second: A world without the US Empire will also face evils; some old, some new. They have to be foreseen and addressed, but should not be used as an excuse to keep the US Empire continuing on its disastrous track. They call for a high level of empathy, nonviolence and creativity. Some are explored in this book.
The book is divided into three parts, The Present, The Future and The Past, in that order.
The Present is dedicated to The Fall of the US Empire part of the title. I predicted it in 2000 for the year 2025, but shortened it by 5 years when George W. Bush--seen as an accelerator of the process--was selected president after a fraudulent election; repeated by other means four years later. That prediction now comes true, for our eyes, these first decades of the 21st century.
The Future is dedicated to the - And Then What? part of the title. Many will read it as And Now What, but the fall is not yet there. Nasty things may still happen. But the magic is gone, and the time to engage in post-empire construction is already there. The future part is divided into two parts, global and domestic, with the alternatives spelt out in the subtitles:
" Global: Successors, Regionalization or Globalization?
" Domestic: US Fascism or US Blossoming?

The Past is dedicated to past imperialism. For a peace researcher, imperialism--combining direct, structural and cultural violence--is a major concern. First came "A Structural Theory of Imperialism" in 1971 (in Peace and World Structure; Essays in Peace Research, Volume IV, Copenhagen: Ejlers, 1980, pp. 437-81). Then came "On the Decline and Fall of Empires: The Roman Empire and Western Imperialism Compared" in 1979, written with Erik Rudeng and Tore Heiestad, Norwegian historians, for the "Goals, Processes and Indicators Project" of the United Nations University, published here for the first time. That was actually followed by "The Decline and Fall of Empires as De-Development", written in 1995 for the United Nations Research Institute on Social Development, to be published in A Theory of Development (2009) as the study focuses on economic power--hence the word "de-development"--beyond military and political defeat.
The reader will find the US Empire as the major empire compared to the Roman Empire in the 1979 study, and the US Empire as case study No. 10, presented in the 1995 study with its "coming decline and fall" (the other nine were studies post hoc). We are now 20-30 years later, and the theory can be judged by its fruits. Not a word has been changed.
The present book is a generalization of the 1995 study to fully-fledged "tetrapus" imperialism, adding to the economic the military, political and cultural tentacles. As to the latter, a beginning was made with United States Foreign Policy as Manifest Theology (San Diego: University of California, 1987, 22 pp.). Thus, as this is written, the USA blocks ceasefire in Gaza for Israel to "win" the war in its twin regional empire.
Great thanks to Michael Kuur-Sorensen for assistance.
Manassas-Washington DC-Alfaz January 2009 Johan Galtung

3. The Soviet Case: Six Contradictions
In the comparative study of the decline of ten empires--and fall of nine, No. 10 being the US Empire--in 1995 (see Prologue), with an economic focus, the conclusion was that no single factor but a syndrome of four factors was the general cause:
" a division of labor whereby foreign countries, and-or foreigners inside one's own country, take over the most challenging and interesting and developing tasks;

" a deficit in creativity related to a deficit in technology and good management, including foresight and innovation;
" one or several sectors of the economy neglected or lagging;
" and, at the same time, expansionism as ideology-cosmology, exploiting foreign countries and-or one's own people, inviting negative, destructive reactions.
The syndrome idea came from an earlier study of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, which had been the object of many single factor theories. That study is reproduced in Part Three of this book. The syndrome idea was then applied to the Soviet Empire in 1980, focusing on six contradictions:
[1] between the Soviet Union and the satellite countries;
[2] between the Russian nation and other Soviet Union nations;
[3] between the city and the controlled countryside;
[4] between a socialist bourgeoisie and a socialist proletariat;
[5] between socialist bourgeoisie liquidity and nothing to buy;
[6] between the myth of Communist Utopia and Soviet reality.

In 1980, I predicted that the Berlin Wall, the weakest point in the empire, would fall within 10 years, followed by the Soviet Empire. The theory was "synchronic, synergic maturation of contradictions, demoralizing Center and Periphery elites". Elites might control by force one or two contradictions, but be overwhelmed by more. They were. The Berlin wall fell on time, 9 November 1989.
After the wall came the Soviet fall, by the whimper of demoralized, corrupt, fat, alcoholized ego-maniac elites, feeding also on Radio Erevan jokes. Fit for the survival of self and family, but unfit for the survival of the Empire. The faith was gone.
How does faith evaporate from so many true believers in the Soviet model, all over the world? A mental process with seven phases could sometimes be identified in Euro-communists:
Phase 0: everything is perfect, hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. But no paradise is forever.
Phase 1: reports of something not being according to the model reaches ears and eyes, but is rejected as anti-Sovietism.
Phase 2: there may be some truth, but all due to external circumstances--like bad weather, interventionist wars, the Great Patriotic war, their aftermaths--and will disappear with them.
Phase 3: yes, there is even much truth to the reports, but it is all due to one man, Stalin, and will disappear with him.
Phase 4: yes, and it is systemic, structural, rooted in mistakes like top-down party political rule and state planning.
Phase 5: yes, and it is systemic, cultural, ideological; the marxist capitalism-socialism-communism story is all wrong.
Human, all too human. Some elements in the minds of the true believers are untouchable, like the two structural elements, let alone the key cultural-ideological elements.
But as data start piling up there is a tactical withdrawal that permits acknowledging that there are such rumors, that they are empirically true but due to circumstances, even due to a key human individual but still not systemic. Fourth, fifth: the systemic bastions crumble, structural elements first, then key cultural tenets of the ideology. End of faith. And then, what?
Phase 6: the Soviet Union was entirely wrong from the beginning, and any enemy of that enemy of humanity is my friend.
Time has come to leave one empire to embrace the next as perfect. No yin/yang, no mature judgment in this story.
But there is also another way of telling this story, and, like the above story, with a direct carry-over to the US empire. The focus is then on world space, on the relation between the efforts at global governance in the 20th century--the League of Nations and the United Nations--and their member states.
The League also had a council of victorious powers, England, France, Italy, Japan; Japan being one of the victors in the First World War. Later on Germany and the Soviet Union were added, but the US Senate refused to make the USA join at all.
Of these six, Japan went to war against China in 1931, Italy against Ethiopia in 1935--both of them bombing the civilian population, Italy also with gas--Germany against Czechoslovakia in 1938, and the Soviet Union against Finland in 1939. They all defined themselves as above the law, as exceptions, also to the Kellogg-Briand treaty of 1928. They exited from the League, they were condemned; but the League, international law, and general human morality all proved too weak. The League died, partly for that reason as there are limits to the disconnect between rules and actual behavior, between authority and compliance. If one goes, so does the other.
All four engaged in their key pursuit, building empires by the sword. And all four empires were dismantled, the first three by the bang of the sword, the fourth by the whimper of an implosion. Today no country has defied the authority of the successor, the UN, as much as the USA at the world level, and its clone, Israel, at the more regional level. The conclusion is clear: sow defiance of international morality, and you harvest the end of empires, including your own; whether by a bang or a whimper is another, and rather important, question.
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