By Gabriel McDaniel
The United States of America has been split apart by controversy, corruption, and political turmoil. We are no longer a nation united like we once were. It seems we are following the road of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and perhaps even our closest relatives of the British and French Empires. The comparisons throughout history in what happened to these once great empires and led to their collapses is eerily similar to our own history and modern day events. Think about it: We abuse those immigrants and refugees who come to our border seeking refuge from Mexico, Guatemala, and many other Central American and South American countries, just as the ancient Romans abused the Goths (sometimes referred to as the Visigoths) when they arrived at Roman borders, being forcefully removed and denied entry to Roman territory. History is beginning to repeat itself, and as George Santayana once said, “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” What will become of the American Empire if we do not learn from history? Is it too late to change the outcome?
Holy wars: a term not often mentioned today, or at least not in western countries. But, back in the days of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, it was a term that was used quite frequently. The Byzantines, around the years of 1299-1453, had been at war with another empire rising in the East known as the Ottoman Empire. This conflict was known as the Byzantine-Ottoman Wars and a very large part of that was the religions that both empires followed. The Byzantine Empire followed a sect of Christianity known as the Eastern Orthodoxy Church, and the Ottoman Empire was an Islamic state, although they did allow for religious tolerance. The wars had much to do with both empires wanting to increase their power, size, and religious influence. Those wars ended with the Christian power in the East falling on May 9, 1453, when Mehmed II successfully took Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire fell.
Now compare that to modern day America. We have constantly interfered with Middle Eastern Islamic states such as Iraq and Iran as if it’s any of our business in the first place. We are the largest Christian country in the world, and just like the Byzantines, we are underestimating what the Islamic states are capable of. We think we’re safe an ocean away without a care in the world, and we think we can do whatever we want with no repercussions. But, we’re greatly underestimating what those who follow Islam are capable of when faced with a challenge. The walls of Constantinople eventually fell to the Ottomans because the Byzantines thought they couldn’t ever get past their defenses, they got lazy, and they didn’t hear Mehmed II launching his final invasion. We think we’re always safe behind our military and our impenetrable walls, but take a look at 9/11 and what happened to the Twin Towers, and see that we are just as vulnerable as anyone else.
The oppression of the people is something not generally heard of in America(depending on who you ask). But, is there an empire that oppressed their people and fell? Look no further than America’s parent country. The United Kingdom was once the greatest empire to span the globe. The sun supposedly never set on the British Empire. Great Britain was notorious for the abuses that those who weren’t British suffered under the rule of the U.K. These people included Indians, Africans, North Americans, and the Chinese just to name a few. The British set up influence in many of these countries, even using them as puppet states in the cases of India and Egypt, and in many of these cases the British didn’t care what happened to those who weren’t them, as long as they profited from their suffering, such as when they pumped Opium into China and then forced China to trade with them. The British even took Hong Kong as one of their own cities which is why Hong Kong is technically its own independent country, although it’s still considered a part of China.
The British abused these people for their own purposes of imperialistic expansion in the name of Queen Victoria. These used men from these countries in their armies as well, taking forced conscripts from India and Egypt. Now look at America. We might not force men into our armies that are from separate countries to do our fighting for us, (which is another issue entirely considering foreign wars we have no business being in) but we make many of them do our work for us for little to nothing. Take China and Vietnam for example, the people in these Communist countries are most likely given very little in exchange for making tons of items for American goods. We’ve forced our ideologies and our nationalism into places such as the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico where we refuse to aid them after the hurricane that hit them earlier in 2017 due to them owing us so much money and them not paying. But, what would get them our aid? Them joining us as our fifty-first state would do nicely, but you don’t even have to look to our imperialism in the Puerto Rico, or the Middle East to look at the abuses of the people. Look right at home. People are living in poverty, clawing at whatever they can get their hands on and barely getting by because America can take advantage of its citizens for profit, which is what the current Trump Administration’s main goal appears to be. To get as much money from the people as possible and to give to the aristocrats and sycophants of Trump.
Now, is it too late for the American Empire? Maybe so, for as of recent developments in the G-7 Summit, President Trump decided to depart early in a summit that had helped keep order between industrialized countries and formed what we know nowadays as, “the west.” President Trump, unfortunately, is following the footsteps of many leaders that helped once great empires fall. Isolation of the empire, irrevocably bad political leadership, and what caused every empire to fall: putting themselves first. But, on a note of optimism, the American Empire doesn’t have to follow the same footsteps as the British, Ottoman, Byzantine, German, and Roman Empires. We can still turn around and fix what is broken. It’s not too late, all we need to do is look at history, see what we’re doing wrong, and attempt at the very least to fix it. Then, hopefully, we can work towards bettering the world instead of alienating our allies and walking towards the creeping division of the United States of America.