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This Empire Too Will Fall

By Ali Al-Saeed

21 July, 2004

If we had learned one thing in life it is that history repeats itself, that what goes around comes around, that life goes in a full perfect circle; that Karma will, in more than the traditional sense, get us.

Since the begining of time human history has witnessed the rise and fall of many great Empires; Empires that seemed invincible and indestructible at the times; Empires that were bound to rule the earth forever and more; Empires in the West and the East. They came and went, hundreds and thousands of years ago.

We think of the great ancient ones: The Roman Empire, The Greek Empire, The Islamic Empire and The Ottoman Empire. Each of these have lasted decades and centuries and at their peak it was unthinkable that they would be gone, remembered only by the few bare rocks and stones and history writings of ancient times, glorifying their achievements and great powers. Each was built for its own time, designed and created to adapt and adjust to the constant and inevitable changes of the world. But what did these Empires have in common? What made them so great?

No matter how you look at it and what you dig up from the past, the same two words will always come up: War and Money. Or what is known today as Freedom and Democracy. And when you ask yourself what had brought them down? How did they fall? Again another two words will keep flashing in front of your eyes: Greed and Power. Or what is known today as Economy and Politics.

No doubt how ever that each empire that followed the last got better and better in its quest for immortality and devised cunning and intelligently devious strategies to proclaim its divine throne on the shoulders of the rest of the world, stepping over the little nations, holding them by a leash.

Today, in our time, we have our own Great Empire. One just like those before her will raise and fall, sooner or later. And the day will come when people will talk about the American Empire as a long gone, forgotten concept, an idea that was meant to grow endlessly and read about it in books of ancient history, remembered for what it was and what it could have become. It will fall for no other reason but the fact that that is what empires do, they fall. It might take a century or it might take a millennia but the inevitable end is always there.

Just like the Romans before them and the Ottomans, the Americans are now busy with their empire-building, both in the territorial and power accumulating sense. They are taking matters in their own hands, they are their own destiny, they make the rules and they break them,destructible, an invincible force clutching the whole world firmly in its hand of dominion.

The United States maintains more than 800 foreign military installations, 60 of which are considered as major. These are spread over a total of 140 countries around the world, including Asia, Europe and Africa with considerable concentration within the Middle East; a military presence estimated at around 85% of the entire member states of the United Nations.

It was such approach that prompted the Romans for greatness, establishing military presence and maintaining armed forces in the lands the conquered and further.

Yet on the other hand, we see that one of the main factors behind the fall of the Roman Empire was its laborious, constant war with the Germanic hordes. Who would have thought back then that such a grand and magnificent empire would crumble and fade on the hands of thugs with nothing to lose but their pitiful lives and corrupt politicians whose only concern was their wealth and power? If you had predicted its fall back then you would have been laughed at.

Even one of our modern, most eccentric empires, the Russian Empire, with all its might could not put down the resistance of the Afghan rebels, the constant confrontation between another mighty superpower with a rebel mob resulted in the degradation and fall of another empire.

One cannot but draw comparisons with these past empires and ours. Today we see the Americans lead a fruitless, draining war against an unseen enemy in the name of freedom and democracy when it only gives it the perfect excuse to invade more lands and spread its territorial authority further across the Atlantic.

History tells us that making enemies is not the way to go. Even at the height of the Islamic Empire, its great forces did not help it maintain its grip on half of the world, stretching through Africa and the Middle East from Spain to China. Its successful campaign faltered bit by bit and eventually came to an abrupt end. The Romans had the same fate, as did the Persians.

Sadly, and very unfortunately, we see history gradually repeating itself under a new guise and we can only but hope that Man would learn from the past and look at the bigger picture for once.

In each one of these cases, the ancient empires, we find that there were good and great people behind its rise at one point or the other, but who soon end up in the backseat of the running of the imperial organization and the priorities change from building a great empire with great people to simply extending its military strengths and political and territorial advantage.

The Romans and the Greeks and the Muslims were all pioneers in the field of science, medicine, philosophy, engineering, physics and mathematics in their time and could have created the idealistic world for all of us to live in, but their leaders have neglected one true, simple and basic fact. That life is not about great Empires and who builds them, it is about great People and who leads them.

Ali Al-Saeedis a writer and a journalist from Bahrain. He can be reached at