Robert Kagan

US Imperial Decline in Geopolitical Perspective


Eurasia (orthographic projection). Credit: Keepscases / Wikimedia Commons

Historian Alfred McCoy has quickened my interest in the discourse of geopolitics applied to the waning state of US empire.  His book, In the Shadows of the American Century:  The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Chicago:  Haymarket Books, 2017), makes a clear case that the end of global dominance is near.  The question is what kinds of disruption and what degree of violence the imperial fall will occasion.  What might a post-imperial era mean for Americans and others caught up in the transition?  From the perspective of geopolitics, McCoy sees a number of mostly disturbing possibilities.  His observations are valuable for indicating the challenges ahead.  (more…)


"The Golden Calf" by Esteban March (1610 - 1668).

“The Golden Calf” by Esteban March (1610 – 1668).

Ebola outbreaks, Islamic State beheadings and crucifixions, Putin’s provocations, school shootings, cop-killing snipers: demons everywhere.

Are we a nation of demoniacs, a people preoccupied with demons? We should hope not.   Demonolatry is an obsession with evil spirits. It entails sacrificial acts of appeasement and atonement. The war state thrives on a diet of monsters, fiends, and devils.

Some say our identity as a Christian nation reduces to pathology. Conservative Christianity can warp the mind, according to Marlene Winell (a human development consultant) and Valerie Tarico (a psychologist). Evangelicals and fundamentalists—those who literalize the Bible—insist on conformity, focus on the spiritual world, and seek salvation. They are inclined toward authoritarianism, a pervasive fear of sin, hell, and heathens, and an expectation of apocalypse. They operate in the subconscious realm of metaphor, symbol, imagery, emotion, and supernaturalism, which short-circuits their capacity for rational analysis. This pathology goes unacknowledged because it is respectable in a land that sees itself as blessed by God and where our currency declares our trust in God. (more…)