There are worrying signs that the US is not able to pay for its huge military deployments and its military adventurism. The US uses its political clout to cajole its satellite countries to pay for its wars. For instance, Japan paid $13 billion to the US for the first gulf war against Iraq. According to Michael Hudson, author of Super Imperialism, the ballooning US balance of payments deficit is financed by the central banks of the world, which plough back the surplus dollars to buy US Treasury bonds. Blinded by its overwhelming military power the Empire hurtles relentlessly towards the future in pursuit of its hegemonic goals. Its inept elected representatives have surrendered their judgment to a cabal of unelected military experts.
The unraveling of the Empire would have the same inevitability of a Greek tragedy: the hamartia of an inflexible empire bereft of adjustment and compromise colliding against the forces of blowback and imperial overstretch. The danger of the US alienating Europe, Russia East Asia and China politically cannot be ruled out. The threat of the dollars not flowing back into the American economy is a real possibility. The scenario is dangerous for the US economy as it may financially implode if foreign investment dries up.
“The two great tests which challenge the longevity of every major power,” wrote Paul Kennedy in his magisterial survey The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, “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 it can preserve the technological and economic bases of its power from relative erosion in the face of ever-shifting patterns of production.” Kennedy holds the view that this test of American abilities will be greater because it, like imperial Spain around 1600 or the British Empire around 1900, is the inheritor of a vast array of strategic commitments which had been made decades earlier when the nation’s political, economic, and military capacity to influence world affairs seemed so much more assured. ‘The United States now runs the risk of what might roughly called “imperial overstretch”: that is to say, decision-makers in Washington must face the awkward and enduring fact that the sum total of the United States’ global interests and obligation are far larger than the country’s power to defend them simultaneously.’
Johnson believes that America is in a state of decline. The signs are there for all to see: increasing estrangement between the population and their government, loss of moral authority among the elite, the appearance of militarism and the separation of military from the society it is supposed to serve. He quotes with approval David Calleo, professor of international politics, ‘The international system breaks down not only because unbalanced and aggressive new powers seek to dominate their neighbors, but also because declining powers, rather than adjusting and accommodating, try to cement their slipping preeminence into exploitative hegemony.’