The empire was stretched to its limits, emptying the city of its citizens and its treasure. At all costs the empire must survive and the costs were high. The polity had sacrificed its soul for the conquest of far-flung places and sapped its strength.
Old men had sent young men to die so that they might keep their personal power and wealth while the greater population languished in squalor and corruption.
Sometimes the death of empire is quick in a decisive battle. Other times, it decays slowly. But, it always vanishes.
The wise learn from the histories of former empires. However, there are now few wise enough to learn and even fewer competent to warn. Listen to the voices of history:
Athenian historian, Thucydides: "Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can."
Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius : " Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too."
James Madison, Founding Father and President: " If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." Also, " Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. . . bringing the many under the domination of the few."
Medal of Honor recipient, Major General Smedley Butler, USMC: " War is just a racket. . . Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. . . I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. . . I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. . . I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service. . . The record of racketeering is long. . ."
General Dwight Eisenhower: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
President John F. Kennedy: "What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by an American weapons of war. Not . . . the security of the slave. I am talking about . . . the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living."
Empires fall from overextended military spending that drains the ability to support the homeland's infrastructure and impoverishes the people. Eventually, the inequity between the rich/powerful and the declining middle-class/poor will drive an internal fall. First, there will be a decline in morals and values, then an attempt at "bread and circuses" in which the public is stupefied into believing that all is well, then a lawlessness that plunges the society into complete ruin.
Do not fail to differentiate wars of imperialism with defense of our country. A strong military is essential in this dangerous world -- but only for preservation and humanitarian purposes.
The recent death of bin Laden will not stop the endless wars. There is now a multi-billion dollar industry based on the "war on terror" that will continue as long as those profiting can keep us afraid of the next threat. Are we to remain so fearful that we sacrifice our freedoms or do we say "no more" to fear, declare victory, and get out!
China will be the next world-wide economic power. America can remain strong and on economic parity or we can squander the last of our economy on irresponsible short-term gains for the greedy. We can choose to remain a first-world economic powerhouse or we can become a defeated empire.