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Posts Tagged ‘Soviet Union’

There is a great deal of hand-wringing over the demise of the “American empire” – or at least the appearance of it according to some political conservatives.  I must disclose that I consider myself a political conservative or, perhaps more accurately, right of center.  There are some things that I think the folks on the left of the political spectrum have right.  I support them in these ideas and policies.  Nevertheless, the alarm conservatives have over what they consider to be the down fall of America has me puzzled.

History teaches us that empires never last forever. Why would we expect anything different for our nation?  Even conservatives use Edward Gibbon’s book “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” to show parallels between our decline as a nation and Rome’s.  It is almost as if conservatives are sadistic about it; at one moment agonizing in the pain and in the next reveling in the joy of discovering yet another indicator of America’s Romanesque tortuous decline.  In fact, every empire’s decline in history reveals some uncanny similarities.  So, what’s new?  History repeats itself.  We know that.  Don’t we?  Well, apparently not.

Christian conservatives particularly have a negative eschatological view of history and the future. Yet, they seem to fight against what they know is coming.  Whatever one may call it – “the end of times” or “the end of the ages” – supposedly we are drawing to a close of this world and all of its nations and empires.  Do we expect that America will be immune from these events?  In fact, a careful reading of those portions of the Bible that foretell these events do not indicate any earthly kingdom in power outside of Eastern Europe and the Middle or Far East.  Western nations, including the United States of America, seem to be a non-entity according to the Biblical story.

Winter in Grand Forks, ND

Winter in Grand Forks, ND ©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2009)

The Old Testament, however, gives a pattern for how God deals with nations that may be more informative for us. The “highlight tapes” of God dealing with Israel and the nations of the earth could play something like this:

God sends a message through a messenger that he needs to get the attention of a nation and its rulers. In order for them to take the message and messenger seriously, he threatens to do the following:

  • cause events that humble and humiliate the nation and its leaders in the eyes of the world community,
  • cause economic hardships that threaten the security of the rich and powerful,
  • cause natural disasters that wreak havoc upon the nation’s food supply and infrastructure,
  • cause diseases and plagues to bring fear and death,
  • cause foreign nations to threaten national security,
  • cause hostile nations to drag the nation into unwanted war,
  • cause lesser nations, and seemingly more immoral ones, to bring terror and war into its borders

Does anything on that list sound familiar? These seem to be the ways in which God chooses throughout history to deal with nations.  According to the biblical story, God attempts to bring about a course correction with these events.  Any nation that corrects its course can expect a longer future.  Any that do not can expect a speedier decline and fall.  In any event, sooner or later, all nations succumb to the arrogance and avarice that destroyed all the other nations.

One common event that seems to be a part of every empire’s final demise is its involvement in the Far East, in particular Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. After all, where did Alexander the Great meet his end?  Where did the Roman Empire bankrupt itself trying to bring order but ultimately only managed to bring the Huns?  Even the Ottoman Empire had a time of it trying to maintain peace.  In more recent history, the English empire was glad to be rid of its responsibilities there after the Great World War.  It had long before that, however, wasted precious military resources and financial stability attempting to rule that part of the world.  The United Soviet Socialist Republic assumed in the 1980’s that inhabiting and ruling Afghanistan would be a walk in the park.  It, too, broke its back on the effort.

Now, the United States of America is involved in the same imbroglio. Do we think it will turn out any different?  Vietnam should have been a teaching tool for any involvement in another nation’s struggle for revolution and nation building just as the American Revolution should have taught England the dangers of attempting to rule a land and its people from afar.  It rarely works out well, especially when the people have national aspirations of their own.

In all fairness to the leaders of the United States, efforts in the Far East to bring peace and stability may turn out well.  It’s just that history is stacked against such efforts.  Worse, yet, it forebodes irreparable damage to national security, the military, and the economy because of the costs associated with such an effort.  But, who knows.  Maybe it will be different for us.  Maybe as a nation we will beat the odds and last another 250 years.  Maybe.

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2009)

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