Is American imperial overstretch worsening?
Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst
In recent decades, the world has gone through a dramatic shift, with the dismantling of the bipolar world order and America’s ascendance to “sole superpower” status. Lately, this process has taken another turn, with the unipolar world giving way to the rise of multipolarity. Although this reshaping isn’t complete, it’s certainly an ongoing process that can only be stopped by a disaster of cataclysmic proportions. Expectedly, the unipolar world isn’t giving up and the United States, the primary bearer of this system, ever so euphemistically dubbed “the rules-based world order“, is trying its best to stop the advent of multipolarity.
However, the belligerent thalassocracy is falling into the same trap as many other empires before it – imperial overstretch. This term, coined by historian Paul Kennedy, first appeared in his 1987 book “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”. Kennedy used it to describe what happens to great powers when their ambitions become unsustainable, requiring greater resources than they could muster. Interestingly, he argued that the US, which at the time was in the middle of a major ascent under the Reagan administration, was already experiencing the early stages of this phenomenon.
Although this notion could be challenged by the fact that America was just about to reach the peak of its global power, later culminating with the almost parallel invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Kennedy’s forward-thinking arguments are reinforced by present events. He warned about the great powers’ unrelenting ambition of global dominance, insisting this inevitably leads to the depletion of their resources. Precisely this is happening to the US-led political West. Kennedy’s ability to accurately predict this outcome, despite the massive show of force the US displayed during the 1990s and 2000s, is a testament to his vast knowledge and insight.
While the US was busy destroying dozens of countries across the world, the global economy was slowly pivoting toward Asia, with China playing the central role in this process. The colossal squandering of America’s seemingly endless resources led the world into multiple economic crises in little over a decade, resulting in a massive rise in debt, fiscal deficits and an overall decline in actual Western economic power. With the general outsourcing of its production capacity, a process the political West hoped would be secured through its monetary dominance, the belligerent power pole tried setting up a system that would ensure its perpetual global supremacy.
This scheme, although functioning for decades, started failing after the political West escalated its encroachment on Russia. Moscow, a dormant superpower since the early 1990s, became increasingly frustrated as its cooperation initiatives were not only rejected, but met with crawling or even open hostility. This forced the Eurasian giant to rethink its approach, finally culminating with the February 24 counteroffensive. Ever since, the political West has been trying to mobilize its resources against Russia. It was precisely at this point that the US was exposed as being in an imperial overstretch, trying to tackle multiple global and regional adversaries simultaneously.
On January 17, the New York Times reported America is now forced to transfer munitions from its secret stockpile in Israel to the Kiev regime, now increasingly reliant on Western weapons. As the Pentagon predicts Russia is in the late stages of preparations for a major offensive, the Neo-Nazi junta will need hundreds of thousands of artillery shells and other weapons. The report states that much of the previously secret stash had already been shipped to Europe and will soon be transferred to the Kiev regime. This isn’t the first time America is using overseas arms reserves, since a similar cache in South Korea is also being tapped into.
Both Israel and South Korea have officially denied sending so-called “lethal aid” to the Neo-Nazi junta, making this highly controversial, as Russia could see it as a hostile move. This could complicate the geopolitical situation in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, as Israel is faced with Russian presence in Syria, while South Korea often relies on Moscow to ease tensions with its nuclear-armed northern neighbor. The involvement of both countries in Western aggression against Russia could lead to an uncontrollable escalation in these areas, as Russia is highly unlikely to help countries it views as hostile. In turn, this might further erode America’s power projection capabilities in both regions.
As the US faces mounting issues maintaining its global empire, it recently announced a revised strategy that is supposed to give its vassals a greater role in various geopolitical theaters, including a massive Japanese rearmament program aimed against American adversaries in Asia-Pacific. In other areas, such as the Middle East, Washington DC and Israel are trying to form a wider anti-Iranian coalition. However, with Moscow and Tehran establishing closer ties due to Western pressure, Israeli balancing with Russia is becoming more difficult, if not impossible, endangering its position in the region.
As America’s global power wanes, its reliance on regional allies and satellite states will inevitably lead to problems, as they will be less prone to blindly following Washington DC’s diktat. Israel, South Korea and others will try to avoid bad relations with Moscow and Beijing, while the European Union will always be too slow to reach a consensus on most key issues. Extremist regimes, such as the Neo-Nazi junta, and non-state actors (i.e. numerous NATO-backed terrorist groups) will be increasingly difficult to control and will need ever more resources, further exacerbating America’s imperial overstretch.