First, the historical point: In at least a rough and tumble sort of way, I take it as an historical truth that although many small states in the past perished as a result of being invaded and defeated by stronger foreign states, the most powerful states, like the Roman Empire in the West and other great empires in Persia, India, and China in the East, all eventually declined after their days of glory and ultimately perished primarily as a result of their own internal corruptions and decay, rather than as a result of being invaded and defeated by other states. If a mighty empire is finally defeated and destroyed militarily by a foreign state, it is after it has already grown too weak to defend itself as a result of a long, ongoing process of internal decay, which is the true underlying cause of its eventual demise.
In a civilized, peaceful society, an ordinary man or woman not regularly engaged in particularly hazardous work such as, for example, a mafia hit man, is far more likely to die of an internal illness like a cancer, stroke or other debilitating disease, many of which may be related to bad diet or other unhealthy life styles which he or she can control, rather than because of a pure external cause, such as being murdered, run over by a car, clubbed to death or shot by a psychotic in the street, etc.
In a very similar way, I believe that states, especially powerful ones, unlike small and weak ones, meet their ultimate demise, if that is what happens to them, by first becoming weak and dysfunctional over a long period of time by their own internal decay, which may typically commence at the peak of their power, prosperity and prestige, when the members of the ruling class begin to show unmistakable signs of being smug, arrogant, greedy, selfish, cruel to the rest of the society, and so confident of their invincibility that they begin to undertake domestic projects and foreign military expeditions that will ultimately drive their empire to bankruptcy and to moral turpitude.
Based on the public records of the Bush/Cheney administration during the last seven and a half years, it appears that the United States may be no exception to this historical truth. The United States, no doubt one of the most powerful states, if not the most powerful, in the history of mankind, faces no imminent threat from any foreign forces that would inflict a crippling impact on our continued prosperity, culture and leadership role in the world. And yet, our current government acts as if we were a small state surrounded by a legion of hostile forces that are capable and ready to strike and demolish us at any moment. The whole spectrum of the Bush/Cheney administration's policies are organized around that concept, called the "war on terror," as the single most important policy overriding all other foreign and domestic policies. In this sense, the United States, under the misguided stewardship of the Bush/Cheney administration, has been acting in ways curiously similar to past empires at some point during their peak: neurotic, paranoid and hysterical, and yet overconfident, arrogant and unnecessarily aggressive to foreign countries in vain-glorious and utterly unproductive ways, all at the same time.
Even 9/11, no doubt the watershed event on our ways of thinking about the possible threats from foreign sources, while shocking and horrible in its consequences to the individuals who were the victims and their families, did not come even close to causing a small dent to the military and economic powers and the cultural, economic and political leadership roles of the United States in the world.
However, the capacity of any nation to do serious harm to itself by its own misguided policies, bad judgments and misguided actions has no similar bounds, just as there is no bound on how much harm a person can inflict on his body and mind by bad habits and unhealthy life styles, like using drugs, excessive amounts of alcohol, living on steady diets of junk foods, no exercises, etc. This is also evident from a reflection of what has been happening to the United States under the Bush/Cheney administration. For the Bush/Cheney administration, without even much fanfare, has single-handedly caused a mind-boggling amount of harm to our country and to the long-term welfare of our citizens during the past seven years and a half, whose cumulative harm and damage to our country has been so great and so profoundly destructive that the effects will not only last for a very, very long time but may also affect the core of our ability to remain as the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world. To wit:
First, by launching an illegal invasion of Iraq based on systematic lies and deceptions of its citizens, the Bush/Cheney administration has caused the deaths of more than four thousands of our own soldiers and serious injuries of tens of thousands more whose impact will last for their life time, which are still continuing without any clear prospect of when it might end, and which are worse than the deaths and injured on 9/11;
Second, by launching and continuing the same illegal war in Iraq, the Bush/Cheney administration has caused nearly a trillion dollars to be wasted, to date, for no redeeming economic benefit to the United States and its citizens, and will continue to cause an enormous economic burden to the country for years to come, which are more than the costs of replacing several skyscrapers that were destroyed on 9/11;
Third, by launching the same illegal war in Iraq, the Bush/Cheney administration has caused hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians to be killed and seriously injured for life, as well as destroyed the infrastructure of their country, and thereby left a terrible moral and legal legacy for our children to bear toward another sovereign state and its citizens in future history;
Fourth, by launching the same illegal war in Iraq in blatant violation of the international law which unambiguously prohibits unprovoked invasions as illegal, violating other well established international law, the Geneva Conventions and our own domestic law on torture, and allowing unscrupulous private contractors to profiteer from the illegal war, the Bush/Cheney administration has seriously undermined the moral stature and authority of our nation in the world, to a point where, in the polls taken worldwide, our own President, incredibly, now ranks as a more dangerous person than the heads of terrorist organizations in the view of citizens of many important friendly foreign countries and where some of the highest present and former officers of our own government are now seriously mentioned in connection with a possible international tribunal for "war crimes," which not only has brought shame on all Americans but which no amount of propaganda orchestrated by a hostile foreign government or foreign terrorist organization could possibly have produced;
Fifth, the Bush/Cheney administration's misguided economic policies and their utter failure to provide the necessary oversight and regulation on the financial market, coupled with the wastes of the horrendous amounts of money in connection with the illegal war in Iraq, have made a shambles of the U.S. economy and caused the value of the U.S. dollar to decrease by 40% or more, relative to other major foreign currencies, during the last 7 and a half years, whose overall economic effect is that we, the US citizens, are collectively 40% or more poorer today than we were only 7 years and a half ago, relative to the rest of the world; such profound diminution of our national economic power and such drastic reduction of our citizens' economic well being over such a short period of time most certainly could not have been brought about except by own internal government's seriously misguided economic polices;
Sixth, the tax policies of the Bush/Cheney administration and the business environment fostered under the Bush/Cheney regime have significantly contributed to widening further the gap between the most affluent, on the one hand, and the middle class and the poor, on the other, creating seeds for a more serious social unrest for the future of this country and possibly for the rest of the world;
Seventh, the Bush/Cheney administration has been totally negligent of its duty to perform any action which may be necessary for long-term research and preparation to deal with the global environmental issues that may have the potential of threatening human life and civilization, as we have known it for the past several thousand years; and
Eighth, the Bush/Cheney administration has been totally negligent of its duty to encourage and support research and development for alternative, renewable energy sources to deal with the serious energy problems that are rapidly becoming a serious threat to our national and worldwide economy, even though these problems were expected to arise because of the dwindling source of fossil fuel on which our entire economic system currently depends.
The charges listed above are but a few that can be brought against the Bush/Cheney administration. I know there are more charges that can be brought against them, including some that are, in some sense, more serious than the ones listed above. But the purpose of the above list is not to record all possible charges against the Bush/Cheney team but only to show enough to make my basic point that the Bush/Cheney administration has caused far more harm and damage to our country and to the future welfare of its citizens than any foreign country or external terrorist organization, however hostile to us and however well organized, could possibly have caused. We must never forget that while a mighty nation, like us, never goes down because of external causes, even the mightiest can go down by its own internal corruptions, decay and weaknesses. Thus, future historians may say, too, that because of the enormous strength of the U.S. economy and its political system, the United States was able to withstand and survive the devastating effects of all the damages inflicted by the Bush/Cheney administration for quite some time but those negative effects ultimately showed and contributed to the eventual decline of the United States to the status of a second class nation in world affairs and declining prosperity for its citizens, because its citizens did not fully realize the extent of harms done to them during the misguided Bush/Cheney regime and because its subsequent administrations failed to take sufficient measures that may have alleviated the lasting effects of those damages.
Americans today seem to be the last to grasp the magnitude of what is happening to them and have barely begun to realize that something terrible may have happened to them. But make no mistake. We, the US citizens, are the greatest victims of the policies of the Bush/Cheney administration, whether we realize it or not. Especially, the hardcore rightwing do not realize that they are supporting and worshipping the cancer, not the defenders, of our nation. They never realize that no external terrorist organizations and foreign governments, all combined, could have caused as much actual harm to this nation as the Bush regime has caused during the last 7 plus years in just about all areas critical to the health of a nation. While the hardcore rightwing rant about the external threats and all that in the name of patriotism, they are totally oblivious of the fact that they may be the true enemies and cancer of this nation who cause immeasurable harm to the country in ways no external forces could come even close against a powerful nation like us. To me, they sadly conjure up an image of a paranoid who is so afraid of being murdered by an intruder that his home is armed to the hilt with all kinds of weapon but who does not begin to understand how to care for his body and mind and is hopelessly addicted to steady diets of junk food, excessive drinking, even drugs and generally unhealthy life styles, very sick and dying, not from a bullet wound, mind you, but rotting from the core of his body and mind.