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How Empires Go Broke

“The dominance in trade the US once had is now quickly fading.   Without this dominance, it will not be able to continue to replenish itself and rearm itself like it has in the past.”


Empires are very expensive business. They also make a lot of money for a lot of people involved. But overall they drain the founding nation of resources, money, and men and eventually leave it a broken husk of its former glory. There have been no exceptions to this in history, and Revelation 18 in the Scriptures shows that this will even be the fate of the final global empire.

The fate of the United States’ empire was sealed in recent years when because of their financial aggression against the country of Russia, they created a reason for many other growing economies to start binding together to ensure their ability to continue to trade if America decided to turn on them. This is the BRICS trade alliance, prompted by the American sanctions against Russia. One of the biggest consequences of the United States’ war against Russia is that many nations have now started to trade for oil in their own currencies, rather than using the Petro-dollar.

The Petro-dollar required all nations to trade for oil in US dollars, which enabled the United States to find the money for its expensive wars, and domination of many other nations, giving it the power to cripple potential rivals or even just smaller countries seeking to break from its power, and gave the US many other financial advantages over the rest of the world. But that power is now broken, and many people do not realize how this has sealed the fate of the end of the United States as the dominant global power.

This illustration from Byzantine history might help show why this is a devastating development for the United States. The Byzantine Empire stood as the dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea region for centuries. Part of the reason they were so dominant was because of their dominance over all trade in the region. Oman writes:

“The reign of Alexius might have been counted a period of success and prosperity if it had not been for two considerations. The first was the rapid decline of Constantinople as a commercial centre, which was brought about by the Crusades. When the Genoese and Venetians succeeded in establishing themselves in the seaports of Syria, they began to visit Constantinople far less than before. It paid them much better to conduct their business at Acre or Tyre than on the Bosphorus. The king of Jerusalem, the weakest of feudal sovereigns, could be more easily bullied and defrauded than the powerful ruler of Constantinople. In his own seaports he possessed hardly a shadow of authority: the Italians traded there on such conditions as they chose. Hence the commerce of the West with Persia, Egypt, Syria, and India, ceased to pass through the Bosphorus. Genoa and Venice became the marts at which France, Italy, and Germany, sought their Eastern goods. It is probable that the trade of Constantinople fell off by a third or even a half in the fifty years that followed the first Crusade. The effect of this decline on the coffers of the state was deplorable, for it was ultimately on its commercial wealth that the Byzantine state based its prosperity. All through the reigns of Alexius and his two successors the complaints about the rapid fall in the imperial revenue grew more and more noticeable.”

Oman, Charles. The History of the Byzantine Empire: From Its Glory to Its Downfall (p. 134). e-artnow. Kindle Edition.

The Byzantine empire had faced many setbacks in the region, from the invasions of the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Magyars, Bulgars, Persian, and more. But it had always been able to use its ability to quickly rebuild wealth to reassert itself in the region. But when their hold on trade in the region was broken, significantly, this advantage was ripped away. The result was devastating.

Oman writes again about the situation less than a couple of centuries later:

“The three able emperors who reigned at Nicaea, though they had preserved their independence against Turk and Frank, had utterly failed in restoring administrative efficiency in their provinces. John Vatatzes, himself a thrifty monarch, who could even condescend to poultry-farming to fill his modest exchequer, found that all his efforts to protect native industry could not cause the dried-up springs of prosperity to flow again. The whole fiscal and administrative machinery of government had been thrown hopelessly out of gear.

“It was the commercial decline of the empire that made a reform of the administration so hopeless. The Paleologi were never able to reassert the old dominion over the seas which had made their predecessors the arbiters of the trade of Christendom. The wealth of the elder Byzantine Empire had arisen from the fact that Constantinople was the central emporium of the trade of the civilized world. All the caravan routes from Syria and Persia converged thither. Thither, too, had come by sea the commodities of Egypt and the Euxine. All the Eastern products which Europe might require had to be sought in the storehouses of Constantinople, and for centuries the nations of the West had been contented to go thither for them. But the Crusades had shaken this monopoly, when they taught the Italians to seek the hitherto unknown parts of Syria and Egypt, and buy their Eastern merchandize from the producer and not from the middleman.”

Oman, Charles. The History of the Byzantine Empire: From Its Glory to Its Downfall (pp. 151-152). e-artnow. Kindle Edition.

After their dominance on the trade in Eastern Europe, and beyond, was broken, Byzantium was no longer able to reform and replenish its bureaucracies and its armies after wars and invasions like it had always done. Even when the Saracens had taken Egypt, the granaries of Rome, and Syria-Palestine from the Emperor Heraclius, Byzantium had still been able to gather the resources it needed not only to survive, but thrive and eventually even reassert itself over the Saracens in many areas of what we today call the Middle East, or Turkey. Their dominance of the trade in the region made them incredibly wealthy and powerful, beyond what they were capable of producing naturally in their own cities and provinces. They held the keys to early medieval wealth and prosperity in many ways. 

But once this advantage was taken away, Byzantium just became another regional port, and it quickly faded in power and was eventually conquered by the Ottomans. It lost the ability to replenish itself, like it has always been able to do. Its hold on the trade routes and the seas had given it this ability.

The United States has ruled over a larger segment of the world than any other empire in history and its navy is still the most formidable in the world. But it no longer has the trade dominance it once had. Nations can now very easily bypass it in trading for vital commodities and more, something that was not so easy before the US brought its sanctions on Russia. This strategy had worked so many times against other powers, but this time the nation they sought to strangle was prepared and Judo flipped the sanctions back on the US economy. The dominance in trade the US once had is now quickly fading.  

Without this dominance, it will not be able to continue to replenish itself and rearm itself like it has in the past. It no longer has the manufacturing advantage it once had either. And it can no longer bully other economies so easily, at least those willing to be apart of BRICS. This is the significance of losing this economic dominance, this is what it means for the US to lose its near monopoly of international trade advantages with the Petro-dollar.

Just as Byzantium did not last in its former glory long after it lost its trade advantage, neither will the US. It will not fade overnight, Byzantium lasted a few more centuries in decreasing glory, but it faded, and so too will the power and dominance of the US. Considering how short its reign at the top was, it’s likely their fall will be quicker than Byzantium’s. Especially as most of the world’s production capacity and wealth is now centred on the Asian landmass, a region the US is disconnected from and historically aggressive towards. 

The current wars we see in Russia, the Middle East, and building in the South China Sea and Taiwan all stem from one original source: the US and its allies are seeking to either maintain US dominance or take advantage of US dominance while it lasts. But no empire lasts forever. We are watching something like the fall of Rome and Byzantium in our day. 

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