In Cullen Murphy’s work, Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America (2007), the author contemplates the title upon a trip through Ireland in which she witnesses the mobile seat of the Executive Branch of the United States government. President George W. Bush was visiting the Emerald Isle and had parked Air Force One and all the accompanying architecture that makes the National Command Authority on the move possible. The comparison of America to Rome is one that is often made. “Obviously, the emergence of America as the world’s sole superpower, and the troubles it has encountered in that role, explain much of the revival of the Roman Empire in the American imagination.”
Vaclav Smil counters Murphy’s claim in his own book on the subject, Why America is Not a New Rome (2010). Though Smil argues against the claim of the United States as an Empire, his acknowledgement of the question shows how the topic of world powers can grab the attention of world observers. And when one looks back into history, one can see how the comparison can fit, if only in the fact that the Roman Empire and the post-Soviet United States were without equal in world power and dominance in almost every quantifiable manner.
How did states like the Roman Empire and the United States of America rise in power? How did the same Roman Empire fall? History is replete with the ascendency and collapse of empires. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, Abbasside, Ottoman, Habsburg Spain and Austria, France, Britain, and Russia are but a few of the major world powers who experienced this cycle of ascendency and collapse. This essay seeks to explore the commonalities of why powers become powers and how they fall. It will first disclose the common factors shared by powers in their rise and then will explain reasons for their decline. Furthermore, the factors will be listed in order of importance.
Commonalities of Nations in the Ascendency
The first factor is that of competition. Historian and Yale Professor Paul Kennedy cites the competition inherent between the decentralized European states from the time of the Reformation to the beginning of the first World War as the main reason for the European dominance over the East. In the rise of the West from about the 1500s, “there was a dynamic involved, driven chiefly by economic and technological advances.” The very geography of Europe was key, with its large forests and mountain ranges encouraging smaller, more compact and separate societies; also the numerous navigable rivers leading to the seas practically encompassing its mass, attracting trade and increasing interaction led inexorably to a decentralization and fierce competitiveness between the peoples of Europe.
This competition manifested itself in three dimensions: economic, political/military, and religious. When the numerous, geographically separate societies plied their trade, they inevitably ran into each-other and competed over the varying resources being traded as well as the logistic routes used for such trade. The prosperity spurred by this bustling trade was further enhanced by the development of tools with which to conduct business. “Regular long-distance exchanges of wares in turn encouraged the growth of bills of exchange, a credit system, and banking on an international scale. The very existence of mercantile credit, and then of bills of insurance, pointed to a basic predictability of economic conditions which private traders had hitherto rarely, if ever, enjoyed anywhere in the world.” In Columbus’ case, the very desire to control and master the spice trade led to the ‘discovery’ of the New World.
The economic competition naturally coincided with political/military struggles over the control and mastery of the various sectors of the markets. Centers of power sprung up at the major ports of entry, at major cross-roads throughout Europe, and along-side the way-points of the navigable rivers traversing the country-side. Again due to the geography and distance separating the population centers, large areas were difficult to maintain singular, centralized control over. This is not to say lords, barons, and other royalty did not attempt to amass holdings; they certainly did. When they did, this resulted in the many small-scale military conflicts that contributed to the success overall of the continent. This “decentralization of power in Europe, … above all else, … engender[ed] a primitive form of arms race among the city-states and then the larger kingdoms.” The constant low-level warfare and threat of warfare spurred technological development that far outpaced the rest of the world. This perpetual arms race in some ways brought about the industrial age.
The last component of the competition factor is one of religion. The constant competition between the Catholic Church and the secular government culminated in the ultimate separation of civil government from that of religious rule. “Both [Paul and Christ] had … drawn a clear distinction between the Church and the state, between the spiritual and the secular … intended by Christ to indicate just how clearly his kingdom was ‘not of this world.’” The drive of the Catholic Church to assert its authority over all aspects of life was one component that lead to the great upheaval of the Reformation. Its impact cannot be underemphasized. If the abundance of independent economic, political, and military powerhouses strewn across Europe was not enough to promote a vibrant competition, the divisive nature of the rift between the Catholic Church and the protesters of the Reformation gave it added impetus. One could argue that the polarizing nature of the division between Protestant and Catholic and its eventual fall into geographic boundaries was one of the elements that promoted the cohesion of large nation-states like Catholic Habsburg Spain and Austria, and France; and the Protestant German states and the Low Countries. One could further argue that this division along geographic borders and the galvanizing force they produced within those borders led to the fervent nationalism of the 1800s and 1900s.
The second factor is that of scholarship. By the 1500s, it could be accurately said that parity between East and West in technological know-how and scholasticism had been reached. Prior to these times, the science of the Chinese and the Arabs had been unparalleled. The very foundational basis for modern science as developed by the Greeks had been exported to the East by Alexander, the Ptolemies, and the Seleucids. This basis was expanded upon and used to great effect by militant, but visionary leaders in the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates in their take-over of North Africa, Spain, and in its subsequent defense against the Western Crusades. “Certainly in some parts of Asia the level of scientific knowledge was no lower than in Europe – after all, Western knowledge of mathematics was mainly Arabic in origin – but in Asia, unlike Europe, there was no connection at all between science and technics, which meant that scientific results were not tested by experimental technology.” The rise of the Islamic East coincided with the decline of scholasticism in the West following the collapse of the Roman Empire. But as secular forces began to rebel against the close-mindedness of the Catholic Church (who it could be argued kept its populace ignorant in order to maintain control over those whom it influenced), it opened the door to a renewed pursuit of knowledge, birthing the Renaissance.
Those who decry ‘Eurocentrism’ as if it were some distasteful prejudice have a problem: the Scientific Revolution was, by any scientific measure, wholly Eurocentric. An astonishingly high proportion of the key figures – around 80 percent – originated in a hexagon bounded by Glasgow, Copenhagen, Krakow, Naples, Marseille, and Plymouth, and nearly all the rest were born within a hundred miles of that area.
The rule of law is a crucial third factor of successful states. The separation of religion from government, and in particular, law is a fundamental factor in Western society.
Roman law begins with the Twelve Tables, … composed between 451 and 450 B.C.E. in an attempt to put an end to the manipulation of the law by the priests and patricians. The effect of these was to ensure that henceforth all customary law would be given a legislative basis and enacted by statute. They also ensured that in the Roman world, and subsequently throughout all of the West from Britain to the United States, the law would be secular and independent, despite many subsequent attempts to interfere with it, of divine command.
A foundational principal of enterprise is the rule of law; unfettered and unencumbered by the arbitrary edict of a tyrannical potentate. The ability of the businessman to privately, independently plan and execute his business practices in a predictable environment can only exist in a society governed by the rule of law. The absence of religious diktat also allowed for the law to change reflecting societal developments. And the eventual establishment of democratic forms of government gave the ability to the people to further amend the law as necessary. Currently, the rule of law with respect to natural rights separates powerful nations from third world dictatorships.
The fourth factor is trade and exploration. One of the biggest reasons for the rapid decline of the Ottoman Empire in contrast to its Western European competitors was the relative lack of competition posed by the Ottomans in the arena of exploration for commercial purposes. The technology born out of necessity for trans-Atlantic voyages, built sturdy ships with multiple cannon to keep privateers and rival nationalities at bay. The Western Europeans produced war-ships that far-outmatched the Ottoman vessels which were built for solely navigating the far milder waters of the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. This had the result of confining the Ottomans to land, effectively sandwiching them in between Hapsburg Austria, Hungary, the advancing Russian Empire, and the Persians.
The exploration, subsequent colonization, and exploitation of new resources greatly increased the participants’ military and economic power. Within a meager 150 years, Spain, Portugal, France, and Britain had colonies and trading posts strewn throughout North America, South America, Africa, the subcontinent, and Asia.
The fifth factor is that of the investment apparatus developed by the powers in the West. The aforementioned factors that produced the thriving capitalism complete with lines of credit and banking, attracted both private and public investment. Columbus’ plan of discovering a shorter trade route to the spice markets of India was only made possible by the significant investment of the Spanish monarchy. The rise of trade businesses like the Dutch East India Company, and the British East India Company in the 1600s and 1700s allowed private investors the opportunity to increase wealth, as well as finance the aforementioned exploration and trade ventures beyond the European mainland.
As previously alluded to, the sixth factor to be examined is that of religion. Christian universalism, however unsavory in practice in today’s understanding, had a tremendous impact upon the success of the Western powers. The explorers and conquerors of the Americas were motivated not only by the profit potential of their exploits, but also by an often misguided belief in the inevitability of Christian universalism: the belief that the entirety of the globe will one day come to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that human-kind could hasten the second coming of Christ by forcefully converting the heathen to Christianity. This belief is one that is similar to the contemporary, fundamentalist Islamic world-view of a universalism in which the entire world submits to the will of Allah as explained by his prophet Muhammad. “In the spirit of St. Paul, Christian universalism, we have suggested, was supracultural, transhistorical. As a deduction from its premises, it could foster expansion out from lands already Christian to newly discovered lands of potentially Christian souls. Confucian universalism, however, was supremely cultural, rooted in a Chinese culture that was an absolute.”
The last factors, more minor in nature, can be covered very briefly. The first of these minor one is the concept of citizenship. Developed by Rome, the idea that a common individual had a share, or a stake in the state in which he or she dwelt, was a completely foreign one for much of history. This sense of national or imperial identity was far different than the previous associations with one’s city or small province. “Citizenship, in its modern form, was a Roman creation, and it has had more influence on shaping the civic values of the Western world than almost any other.”
The next minor factor is somewhat controversial. A liberal administration of occupied lands is a shared aspect of many states in the ascendency. While it could be equally argued that a vast, colonial empire is one of the indicators of imminent demise, while they are being administered, the successful states always seem to show a leniency and measure of accommodation to the colonized peoples. Rome is one example of this. “No one wished to see it end. The fall of Rome has been attributed to many causes. But the kind of hatred that many subject peoples have felt for their imperial overlords was only rarely one of them. The ‘barbarians’ who eventually destroyed the empire did so from within. They did not wish to bring an end to Roman rule so much as to appropriate a sizable share of it for themselves.” Similarly, French colonial rule in areas where they conferred French citizenship to their colonial people had far better outcomes than the British models in her empire. Senegal and other West African Francophone countries still enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with her former colonial master.
Commonalities of Nations in Decline
The first factor of nations in decline is that of Imperial over-reach. Imperial Rome, Habsburg Spain and Austria, the British Empire, Alexandrian Greece, Nazi Germany, and some would say the contemporary United States are all exemplars of this factor. The Roman Empire was overrun became she became unable to provide for her own defense due to the massive amount of territory in which it had to garrison forces. Its predecessor, Greece, after Alexander’s demise, was unable to centrally administer her holdings, and fractured almost immediately along geographic lines amongst Alexander’s four successors. The British, of course are but the most recent example. After essentially bankrupting herself in the Second World War, she became unable and her people weary of providing the necessary forces to quell near simultaneous uprisings in India, East Africa, and other African colonies.
At one point Imperial Spain covered the entirety of the Iberian Peninsula, the Lowlands, Austria, portions of Hungary, Sardinia, Sicily, Naples, and portions of Bohemia. Through marriage, the Habsburgs had essentially inherited a wide and disparate swath of the European continent. Their ability to maintain, administer, and as later paragraphs will detail, wage wars in several locations concurrently, severely stretched the capabilities of the governing systems. In the age in which communication depended upon the speed of a coach or a rider, maintaining a centralized control over such a vast and separated territory made the entire situation untenable after a period of time. This inability to manage an Empire from one location was tacitly acknowledged in the late 1500s in Charles V essentially splitting the Empire by bequeathing the Spanish half to his son Phillip II while maintaining the administration of the Eastern half from Vienna.
The second factor is that of the mass-centralization of power. Nearly every state outside of post 1500-Europe has practiced this. It is a natural tendency of human being to amass as much power as possible and keep a close hold on it. Even from the beginning of recorded history, the absolute centralization of power has been an indicator to the downfall of a major power. In ancient Egypt from 1500 to 1000 B.C. “legislation seems to have been a function of the Pharaoh alone; he does not appear to have delegated it to any other person or group.” Although the “administration and judicial work was delegated”, its nature was “strictly authoritarian, from the top downward, from the Pharaoh to the highest officers of the state and from them to their subordinates.”
The centralization of power is not so much of a positive action taken by those who practice it, but a natural expression of human nature. It is the direct inverse of the competition factor explained in the first part of this essay.
The third factor shared by states in decline is that of self-imposed isolation. Imperial China and Japan are prime examples of this factor. Imperial China raised much of their revenue by its tributary system in which subjected localities would pay moneys to the Emperor on a regular basis. This meager sum could never provide the court with the kind of income it needed to provide for administration of the country. “It must not be assumed that the Chinese Court made a profit out of tribute. The imperial gifts bestowed in return were usually more valuable than the tribute. Chinese statesmen before the latter part of the nineteenth century would have ridiculed the notion that national finance and wealth should be or could be promoted by means of international trade.”
Using this centralization, there was a distinct effort made by the ruling dynasties to protect their own holdings from outside political threats. Though mostly successful, at times revolution did occur, but they were not marked by success. “[The Chinese society] was a society in which the landed bureaucracy, by a combination of threat and lure, could always … make abortive the revolutionary impulse in proto-capitalist elements, a society always open to rebellion or invasion but not to revolution. … Successful usurpation of the throne or successful invasion simply meant a different tax-receiver, not an altered social order.”
Additionally, the desire to shut off the Japanese society from Christian missionary influence had the harmful side effect of shutting down international trade and effectively isolating Japan from the rest of the world. This self-imposed banishment from interaction kept the Chinese and Japanese peoples’ from the natural advancement that takes place from the free exchange of ideas, business, and simple exposure to new and exciting things.
Particularly with the Ottoman Empire, Islam, “profoundly convinced of its own superiority and self-sufficiency” isolated itself by refusing to entertain outside influences from both Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe. Pagden demonstrates this effectively in describing the misadventure of Bonaparte’s attempts to colonize Egypt on behalf of France in the late eighteenth century.
In every encounter… between a secularized European West and an Islamic East … [in which] both sides hold that their values and, more fundamentally, their understanding of how the universe operates, applies equally to all humankind. But whereas in the West, that understanding is assumed to be something humans have arrived at for themselves by the application of reason and without any direct assistance from any deity, in Islam, the only universal truths – the only truths of any kind – have to come from the word of God.
Napoleon, in a conference with local Egyptian religio-political leaders “asked if the Qur’an could tell one how to cast cannons. ‘All the sheiks replied emphatically, “Yes.”’ (Later, in 1883, an exiled Egyptian intellectual called Sayyid Jamal ad-Din, known as al-Afghani, suggested that such things as railroads, the modern principles of economics and taxation, and germ theory had all been foreseen in the Qur’an.)”
The fourth factor, and one that is closely related to the first, is that of excessive war drying up capitol. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Habsburg Empire waged numerous, localized wars. From 1560 to 1648, they unsuccessfully attempted to put down the Protestant insurgency in the Netherlands, from 1618 to 1648, they were on the losing end of a “great multidimensional conflict … against successive coalitions of enemy states ... known as the Thirty Years War,” multiple struggles over dominance in Italian states in the 1500s, and the need to constantly police their Eastern frontiers with the ever-present, malignant affliction of the Ottoman Empire. The near-constant technological revolution in war-waging of the 1500s in both weaponry and strategy required massive amounts of capital which the Empire could just not maintain.
A good illustration of this factor is in how the Spanish lost much of the control over the importation of gold from the Americas. The height of Habsburg power was simultaneous to the beginning of the British dominance of the seas, marked by the far superiority of their Atlantic-faring ships of war. This increase in technological superiority forced the Habsburgs to pay far more per ship in order to meet the threat of the British vessels, or else lose dominance of the sea and in turn, lose out of the exploitation of the resources of the New World.
Scenes like this were replete on Europe’s battlefields and in each case, the demand for wealth to be lavished even upon the later defensive nature of the Habsburg conflicts grew too much for the treasury to handle. The Habsburg’s increased their Empire through inheritance and marriages, but the monetary cost to defend her holdings from attack was too high. What happened with the Habsburgs was later echoed in the fall of the British Empire some two to three hundred years later.
The fifth factor is that of general laziness. Born out of dominance, the problem of being the sole-world power is that it generally leads to a malaise. Not having a significant competitor necessarily means a lack of negative consequences. During the Cold War, any sharp decline of United States power relative to that of the Soviet Union could have had severe negative consequences for the U.S. Like the isolation factor, this is another manifestation of the inverse of the competition factor. The Roman Empire and arguably the contemporary United States are examples of this.
Other minor factors exist as well. The first of these is unwise, emotionally-driven belligerence. The Greek/Persian wars were filled with heinous acts of barbarism; each enraging the other side into throwing massive amounts of man-power against the other in quick retaliation… with either side rarely gaining an upper hand. More recently, the psychopathic, narcissistic Hitler sent Nazi Germany across Poland to invade then-ally the Soviet Union, even before he could pacify his bigger enemy, the British.
Another minor factor is that of singular, dictatorial rule. History is also replete with names of famous, singular, dictatorial leaders – Alexander the Great, Xerxes, Napoleon, Hitler. Yet, despite their successes on battle-fields, each of their empires crumbled because of the singular nature of their governing system. The success of a dictatorship is often subject to the ability of that singular ruler to never make a mistake.
With these factors now explained, there inevitably arise many questions. Although no firm answers exist, they must be considered. When does the competition inherent in success turn destructive? Clearly these factors are dynamic; how do they interrelate with one-another? What role is played currently by multiculturalism, the lack of assimilation of an immigrant block, and the social-welfare state? What about the current sovereign debt crises of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and especially Greece and possibly the United States in the near future? How does this all apply to the United States, which most see as a major power in decline?
What is the tipping point in all this competition? We have seen that competition is a good thing. It encourages growth, hard work, and innovation by a combination of both positive and negative reinforcements. But, there must be a point in which competition becomes destructive: particularly in warfare. Competition in war-fighting technology and capabilities contribute to the success of the competitors, but, by its very definition, war is destructive of all things – capital, human life, economic potential. There must come a point where the positive effects of competition in economic and military terms are outweighed by the pure waste of it. A perfect example of this is how the physical destruction of World War I slaughtered a sizable portion of the participants’ young-male population, bankrupted both victor and ‘less-victorious’, wiped out the global hegemony of Western Europe of the previous 500 years, and left open the door for the United States to assume the status of preeminent world power. This also does not necessarily mean there must be an actual war or physical destruction of objects and humans. The Soviet Union’s demise was certainly precipitated by its inability to outspend the United States on its military machine.
Certainly, these factors and the relationships between powers are not static; it is quite a dynamic system. How do these variables interact with each-other? Professor Kennedy’s main thesis is that a unique combination of factors led to what he deemed the “miracle of the west”. The main reason for the rapid rate of increase in the power of Western Europe in contrast to that of other major world powers is not so much what Western European nations did, but what they did not do. “In most cases, what was involved was not so much positive elements, but rather the reduction in the number of hindrances which checked economic growth and political diversity. Europe’s greatest advantage was that it had fewer disadvantaged than the other civilizations.”
How does multiculturalism factor in the system? It is a relatively new, if not current subject more fit to be studied by sociologists and political scientists, but historians would be remiss without at least considering it. In 2011, British and French leaders, and most publicized, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that multiculturalism had failed. Europe’s primary problem with their multiculturalism stems from a combination of the immigrant population’s inability to assimilate and the host nation’s (France in particular) inability to integrate them. The Netherlands, Denmark, portions of Germany, and even Scandinavian countries are today waking up to realize that large immigrant masses of their own citizens live in squalid ghettos, speak no European tongue, hold no job, and exist on social welfare; parallel societies in which Islamic law reigns supreme. Certainly these issues have contributed to the debt crises of these countries. Could this be an additional factor to add to the list of commonalities of nations in descent? How does this bode for the future of the United States who may see similar problems? Similarly, how does the factor of unrestrained government spending contribute to a fall from power? It is speculated both this and the previous factor, a general disintegration of the social fabric, were significant factors in Rome’s fall – can this also affect the United States?
The United States is still, albeit now disputably, the most powerful nation in the world, unmatched in its economic and military might. But, the U.S. is also a nation in the decline compared to rising China and resurgent Russia. The U.S. exhibits several of the factors of a nation in decline. It could easily be argued that the level of commitments to other nations in treaty obligations as well as deployed military assets around the globe be titled Imperial Overreach. It could also be argued that the U.S. now practices excessive centralization of power as more and more of the responsibilities of citizens, communities, and states now fall to the bureaucrats in Washington. It could also be argued that the U.S. has expended too much capital in waging excessive wars.
It surely can be argued that the U.S. decidedly does not display the more positive aspects outlined in the first section. Government regulates every aspect of business, stifling competition. Scholarship has been watered down to excess. As Niall Ferguson writes in the prelude to Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011):
I wrote this book because I had formed the strong impression that the people currently living were paying insufficient attention to the dead. ... For roughly thirty years, young people at Western schools and universities have been given the idea of a liberal education, without the substance of historical knowledge. ... They have been encouraged to feel empathy with imagined Roman centurions or Holocaust victims, not to write essays about why and how their predicaments arose. In "The History Boys", the playwright Alan Bennett posed a 'trilemma': should history be taught as a mode of contrarian argumentation, a communion with past Truth and Beauty, or just ' one f***ing thing after another'? He evidently was unaware that today's sixth-formers are offered none of the above - at best, they get a handful of 'f***ing things' in no particular order.
The concept of the rule, thankfully still stands today, despite the best efforts of numerous powers that be – clearly a testament to the wisdom of the writers of the U.S. Constitution. Although Americans do not have to live under a theocratic government, religious freedom is under daily attack by those who seek to destroy any aspect of its public manifestations.
These kinds of issues were what Professor Kennedy wrote on when discussing the problem of number one:
Although the United States is at present still in a class of its own economically and perhaps even militarily, it cannot avoid confronting the two great tests which challenge the longevity of every major power that occupies the ‘number one’ position in world affairs: whether, in the military/strategical realm, it can preserve a reasonable balance between the nation’s perceived defense requirements and the means it possesses to maintain those commitments; and whether, as an intimately related point, it can preserve the technological and economic bases of its power from relative erosion in the face of the ever-shifting patterns of global production.
Can the United States survive as the world’s sole superpower? Many doubt it. Some would assume that it was a natural course of events in which the fall naturally accompanies the rise. Other theorists may disagree, like Francis Fukuyama, who in The End of History and the Last Man (1992), posited that democratic republicanism was the culmination of man’s social history. Regardless, the people of the United States would be well served to contemplate these things and make their own destiny.
Edward Gibbon in the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1782) thought it was all a fait accompli:
The rise of a city, which swelled into an empire, may deserve, as a singular prodigy, the reflection of a philosophic mind. But the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. The victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic, and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple. The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigor of the military government was relaxed, and finally dissolved, by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians.
Ferguson, Niall. Civilization: The West and the Rest. New York: The Penguin Press, 2011, Kindle Edition.
Gibbon, Edward. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Volume 3. Public Domain, 1782, Apple iBooks.
Levenson, Joseph R., ed., European Expansion and the Counter-Example of Asia 1300-1600. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967.
Kennedy, Paul. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. New York: Random House, 1987.
Marquand, Robert. “Why Europe is Turning Away From Multiculturalism.” The Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 2011, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2011/0304/Why-Europe-is-turning-away-from-multiculturalism [accessed March 24, 2012].
Murphy, Cullen. Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.
Pagden, Anthony. World at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West. New York: Random House, 2008, Kindle Edition.
Brendon, Piers. The Decline and Fall of the British Empire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.
Chudoba, Bohdan. Spain and the Empire: 1519-1643. New York: Octagon Books, 1969.
Fukuyama, Francis. The End of History and the Last Man. New York: Avon Books, 1992.
Goldsworthy, Adrian. How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.
Krieger, Leonard and Fritz Stern, Ed. The Responsibility of Power. New York: Doubleday, 1967.
Parker, Geoffrey. Success is Never Final: Empire, War, and Faith in Early Modern Europe. New York: Basic Books, 2002.
Pollard, A. F. Factors in Modern History. Boston: Beacon Press, 1932.
Smil, Vaclav. Why America Is Not a New Rome. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010.
Spengler, Oswald. The Decline of the West: Volume II. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926.
Wakeman, Henry Offley M.A. The Ascendancy of France: 1598-1715. London: Rivingtons, 1963.
 Cullen Murphy, Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America. (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007).
 Ibid., 7.
 Vaclav Smil, Why America is Not a New Rome. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010).
 Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. (New York: Random House, 1987), 17.
 Ibid., 16-19.
 Ibid., 19.
 Ibid., 22.
 Anthony Pagden, Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West. (New York: Random House, 2008, Kindle Edition), location 2474.
 Joseph R. Levenson, Ed., European Expansion and the Counter-Example of Asia 1300-1600. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967), 17.
 Niall Ferguson, Civilization: The West and the Rest. (New York: Penguin, 2011, Kindle Edition), locations 141, 153.
 Pagden, location 2103, 2116.
 While some may cry foul and point to China’s centralized government as a success story, the Chinese recent successes all come at the expense of watering down the government’s own control. At best, the Chinese economy could be considered crony-capitalism in that the Peoples’ Republic has invested a fortunate few with the business freedoms to pursue their own capitalist dreams.
 Levenson, 115.
 Levenson, 45.
 Pagden, 109.
 Pagden, 105, 106.
 Of course France is also an example of the negative ramifications of harsh rule in Algeria.
 Kennedy, 37.
 S. N. Eisenstadt, Ed., The Decline of Empires. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967), 40.
 Levenson, 108.
 Levenson, 131.
 Levenson, 111, 112.
 Levenson, 118.
 Pagden, 6324.
 Pagden, 6337.
 Kennedy, 36, 37.
 Kennedy, 30.
 Robert Marquand. “Why Europe is Turning Away From Multiculturalism.” The Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 2011, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2011/0304/Why-Europe-is-turning-away-from-multiculturalism [accessed March 24, 2012].
 Ferguson, location 150, 153.
 Kennedy, 514, 515.
 Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Avon Books, 1992).
 Edward Gibbon. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Volume 3. (Public Domain, 1782, Apple iBooks), 660.