Niall Ferguson is candidly calling time on the American Empire, or at least pointing to the combination of factors that will soon lead to its demise, in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs.
Ferguson, who has become one of the leading intellectuals of the deficit hawk camp, theorizes that empires don’t decline in the slow, cyclical process long assumed. Instead it is dramatic events that push them over the edge to oblivion.
After running through almost every major imperial collapse in history, Ferguson cites the financial position of the U.S. as a similar element with the others. He also says it is already impacting U.S. military engagements abroad, pointing to President Obama’s planned eighteen month draw down in Afghanistan.
Ferguson claims that it will take a simple, but dramatic event to shake the belief in the American Empire.
Foreign Affairs: But one day, a seemingly random piece of bad news—perhaps a negative report by a rating agency—will make the headlines during an otherwise quiet news cycle. Suddenly, it will be not just a few policy wonks who worry about the sustainability of U.S. fiscal policy but also the public at large, not to mention investors abroad. It is this shift that is crucial: a complex adaptive system is in big trouble when its component parts lose faith in its viability.