America is in the political news for all the wrong reasons. It appears to be in a self-made downward social spiral, and no one seems to be able or willing to reverse it. A dangerous joke as seen from the outside, inside its worst elements have gained degrees of power and influence not seen in decades. America calls itself the leader and greatest country of the free world, but if that was ever true, it is not anymore. How did it fall so far?
America became an imperial power as a result of bankrolling and then winning the Second World War. Since 1945 she has extended her military power, economic dominance and cultural hegemony far beyond her frontiers, over Europe, the Middle East and Asia, rivalling both the British and Russian empires of the 19th century.
Since the 1950s, America’s east coast elites have grown rich promoting the ideologies of free-enterprise, unbridled capitalism and the illusion of “The American Dream.” But America has failed to satisfy the material aspirations of small-town, rural America and those living in the urban dust belt. American society has also failed to make good on the aspirations of the American civil war ( black emancipation).
Abroad, America’s efforts to act as the world’s peace maker have largely failed. Examples include the Vietnam War, the invasions of Iraq, and Afghanistan. All these conflicts cost America immense expenditure of blood and treasure to the point, under Bush senior, of near national bankruptcy. Problematic North Korea has been left to ruin its people and advance its nuclear weapons programme to the point of disaster. Proposed further intervention in Afghanistan, combined with the expenditure of rebuilding after recent natural disasters in the South could end up posing similar financial problems.
Putin’s Russia is always ready to seize influential opportunities over the US wherever it sees weakness, bluster and hesitation; covertly putting a man so well-possessed of these qualities as Donald Trump into the Oval Office is probably the best example. Elsewhere, during the years of American military failure and frustration, other powers have risen. China now dominates the Pacific. Saudi Arabia and Iran are up-coming military powers in the Middle East. Neither are overenthusiastic about “the American way of life.” The Failure to prevent or stop the wars of the Middle East between Sunni and Shia has bled America white and seriously challenged her status as a “Great Power.”
Finally, there are all the problems associated with the mentality of the 45th President. The psychotic, bigoted, racist behaviour of Donald Trump recalls the latter-day history of the Roman Empire, suggesting its fate might be about to be repeated in the America of the twenty-first century.
Terry Jones taught History to adult students taking Foundation courses at a College of Higher Education prior to their entry into full-time degree courses at Warwick and Coventry Universities. Since taking early retirement, he has travelled widely in Eastern Europe, pursuing a life-long interest in 19th and early 20th century European history. He has been a GCSE and "A" level tutor with OOL since 1996.