The Surprising Reason America Could Potentially Collapse In Our Lifetime

Throughout history, nations have repeatedly risen from humble beginnings to become some of the most dominant forces the world has experienced. Macedonia, for example, began as a constantly besieged kingdom on the periphery of the Hellenic world but within the lifetimes of King Phillip II and his son Alexander the Great, it had gone on to conquer most of the known world from Greece to the edge of India. Rome, meanwhile, was just a small city-state at the mercy of its mysterious Etruscan neighbors before conquering most of Western Europe, the Balkans, North Africa, and the Levant. 

What these prominent empires and countless others have in common — apart from their power and expansionism — is their lifespan. History's largest and most commanding empires like Rome have seldom survived past a few centuries before seeing themselves lose relevance, experience drastic changes in their internal and/or external borders, or disappear altogether (via History.com). In an op-ed by Georgie Anne Geyer for Times-Standard, she notes that, on average, historical empires have only lasted for around 250 years — which raises the possibility that America may see some changes on the horizon.

America is approaching a deadline that ended most empires

The United States is no stranger to dramatic conflict; from civil war to often bloody, territorial expansion, much of America's foundation is similar to older nominal and de-facto empires. Even after the solidification of the lower 48 states, for instance, came America's overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. American territorial expansion for the most part ended by the end of the Spanish-American war, though intervention in regions such as Latin America remained commonplace (via allthatsinteresting.com). In spite of interwar public support for isolationism, after 1945 the U.S. stood alongside only the Soviet Union as one of the world's two superpowers — and expanded its influence across the world to remove the latter as a threat.

In the 21st century, the "War on Terror" is, in many ways, a continuation of past policies — with hundreds of U.S. military bases now existing throughout the world (via Politico). However, American efforts to nation-build from the Bush administration onward have led to dictatorial leadership being replaced by weak governments unable to control their countries (e.g., the rise of ISIS/ISIL in Iraq, the 2021 resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the rise of slavery during the Libyan civil war). This failure does not bode well for the now politically turbulent America which, as noted by Geyer, is approaching the 250-year imperial expiration date.