The 21st Century: End of Empires

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryAs Russia’s disastrous war against Ukraine continues, and as China’s attempts to try and conquer Taiwan is being condemned by most of the rest of the world, it is becoming increasingly clear that the days of empire building are over and the world has moved on. Russia and China do not get it, and for this these last holdovers of a bygone imperial time are showing all the signs of what happens to those countries that do not get it—they are virtually isolated, they have fewer and fewer allies or friends willing to support them, and the regimes that wish to spawn a new modern-day empire are being condemned as “barbaric.”

I should also point out that both China and Russia are increasingly becoming unstable countries. Russia’s infrastructure is collapsing, its economy has stagnated, its population is in decline, and corruption is increasingly destroying the machinery of government. Instead of dealing with these internal problems head-on, the Russian government has chosen imperial conquest as a panacea to its problems. For this, Russia as a country and people are now virtually cut-off from the rest of the world in terms of trade, in terms of diplomatic relations, and in terms of being isolated by other military powers who rightfully fear Russian expansion. As China has threatened to conquer Taiwan, China’s neighbors Japan, Vietnam, The Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia have greatly increased their military spending to stop and contain China. Also, the United States is working with these nations to contain China and prevent China from expanding.

Over a century ago, empires and empire-building and maintenance were the norm. The European imperial powers ruled the world and most of the world was their colonies. This trend started to change at the end of World War II, and greatly accelerated at the end of the Cold War in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today, all peoples of the world believe that they have a right to self-determination, a right for their nation to be secure in its borders, and that no nation has the right to attack and conquer its neighbors or threaten far-off countries. Nations that do this are rightly condemned and become heavily sanctioned by much of the rest of the world. All those countries that used to have powerful empires like Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Japan have renounced the use of force and have now pledged to help smaller nations protect themselves and keep the world safe through “collective security.” The United States has also joined this unofficial doctrine, and in my view the United States has become in part the guarantor and guardian for small nations against aggression.

It is regrettable that the first and third largest land countries on earth, Russia and China, have chosen to hearken back to a time when empires ruled, subjugated and even exterminated whole peoples of neighboring countries or lands far away. As much as I know many Americans will say “why are we spending our tax dollars to help a people far away from us;” we have to do this because such empires will eventually come to our doorstep and threaten us just as Russia can threaten Great Britain, France, Germany and Spain and China can threaten Japan, Vietnam, The Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Empires will keep on going as far as their military forces can go, and we have to stop them before they can expand any further. As I said, the days of empire are over and we have to end the imperial dreams of countries like Russia and China to safeguard the rest of the world.

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