When and how will the US fall?

Every empire in history has fallen, so it’s only a matter of time before the US does, too.

What do you dopers think will cause its downfall and when?


Economic collapse, sometime within the next 25 years or so. The Federal Government’s reach will finally exceed its grasp, and one day people around the world and at home will wake up and say - “Wait a minute… this whole “money” thing is just Magical Thinking, isn’t it?” and we’ll disappear in a puff of logic.

Liberalism. The downfall has already started.

First, prove the US is an “empire.”

Retreat a’ la Great Britain. It’ll take 75 years or so. It’ll seem like the world’s turning upside down but it won’t screw things up too much.

This is my guess. The United States will lose a war and retreat back into isolationism. Other countries will step into the void as a world power and the United States will lose its relevance. (China is the most likely candidate.) We’ll still be a country in the same way that the United Kingdom or Brazil or New Zealand is a country but we’ll be just another country on the list.

Without external issues to bring us together as a nation, internal differences will seem more important. The United States will probably end up breaking up along regional lines. Once we’re several separate nations instead of one big nation, other stronger nations will be able to play us off against each other and gain influence in the Americas.

Considering we’re generally more conservative than other developed countries shouldn’t their liberalism have already caused them to fall?

I sure hope this won’t happen!

I don’t think the US will “fall” in the traditional sense of the word. It will certainly lose power in proportionate terms as other countries develop but maintain a large population and economy so for the forseeable future it will be a great power even if not the sole superpower. In the long term I see the United States gradually forming an EU-like union with other First World industrialized democracies which will the basis of a world government (assuming the Second Coming doesn’t occur before this).

As an American who loves his country, I’d like to believe that the United States will never fade away. But I know enough history to recognize lots of other countries felt that they were the exception and they were all wrong. Countries rise and they fall.

So I try to look at what’s made America strong and to me it seems like a lot of it is geography - we’re the big fish in our pond. Countries in Europe and Asia have always been fighting each other and we’re mostly much managed to avoid regional wars. So we’ve been able to grow up without having to waste resources on fighting. When we finally entered the world stage we were already a major power.

The downside of this is we’ve always felt we had the luxury of ignoring world affairs. There have been several periods in American history when we’ve been isolationist. There’s no reason to think it won’t happen again.

And it seems to me that we’ve moved back and forth between two positions in our foreign policy: being the top dog and not wanting to play. We’re not good at accepting a supporting role. If we lost a major war I can see us deciding to withdraw once again from global affairs.

Having covered the decline, I then moved on to the fall. I figured the likeliest way that America would fall would be to lose the geographical advantage I mentioned above. I could have theorized about some other regional power, like Brazil, rising up to our level but I decided to instead consider the United States being knocked down to the level of other countries in the Americas.

The way that could happen would be the break-up I described. Our system of state governments gives us natural fissure lines. And if the United States broke up, the resulting countries would be not have the same power. California and New York are not going to be able to dominate American affairs like the United States does - especially if they’re on opposite sides of an issue.

OTOH borders and national boundaries are more stable than before. Countries will rise and fall, certainly, but IMO it will be due to treaties of unifications or referendums on secession rather than say a barbarian invasion.

I agree it isn’t impossible. But the US currently is so entrenched is so many parts of the world, that it would require a sea change in every part of American life for isolationism (rather than say a military pullback from certain countries) to return especially in a world of nuclear weapons, globalization, and the Internet.

The United States was between the late 19th Century and World War II essentially one of many Great Powers, yet during this period it was only isolationist with respect to European affairs. While the US avoided alliances with European countries, it did not mind intervening and meddling in Latin America and even in East Asia.

Also what would count as losing a major war? Even after the Vietnam War, the US did not become isolationist, retaining its Cold War commitments and alliances.

In answer to the OP’s question, I agree this is one of the best answers (although I’d personally be more inclined towards a scenario involving nuclear warfare and a collapse of central authority due to that).

They turned left after World War 2, and their colonies declared independence almost immediately.

Most developed countries also have birthrates below replacement level, which is going to cause problems as their current population ages. “Demographic death spiral” is the melodramatic phrase for it.

The Greek financial crisis is the most extreme case, but there are doubts about how long other countries will be able to pay for their welfare states.

First, TashaKitty will hit “submit” on a web forum.

Many centuries from now, the US downfall will be traced to that singular event.

Hope you’re happy with yourself.

In seriousness, aren’t the fall of empires/societies similar to the goldfish in a bowl of slowly heating water? Meaning, it is a slow event only visible by historians years and years later? Well, except the USSR. And the French prior to their revolution. Hmm, ok, I have no idea what I’m talking about!

We will consolidate with other nations and become a United Earth.

I can dream, can’t I?

I think the USA could last for a very, very long time. The world is gradually becoming more and more democratic, and democracies don’t tend to fight each other. Fewer wars, more stability. A lot of it depends on how democratic China and the oil countries become, and I think the existence of the internet is a big force for democracy. Makes it harder to control people.
And, why did British power and that of the other former colonial powers decline? Precisely because they grabbed a load of land off people far away, which in the end they couldn’t control. The USA has never really been like that, at least not to anything like the same extent. I know people might say what about Iraq, Vietnam etc., but the the fact remains that the USA has never really been about going around the world and colonising places. Influencing places, leaning on governments, even destabilising unfriendly governments, yes. But actually taking over countries, not so much.
As for the USA internally breaking up and losing its influence that way, I don’t know. It sounds far-fetched, but then I am not American.

It wont so much fall as be overtaken by other nations with much bigger populations as they become developed. This process is well underway. The US will occupy a similar position on the world stage as Britain does now when China’s per capita GDP exceeds 20 % of US per capita GDP.

This. The US won’t fall, the balance of power around the globe will simply redistribute to sane levels where the US doesn’t punch so far above it’s weight. Really the dramatic consolidation of power in the one nation of the US can’t last forever and speaking as a US citizen I’m not sure it should.

If other countries had enough power to maintain peaceful and just stabilization in their geographic regions the US could start to more fully address the issues we have at home. Instead of maintaining a military that can exert significant control in the world we could move toward a more self-defensive roll and use the vast surplus of revenue to maintain a leadership in technological advancement and create enough jobs to vastly improve the quality of life of those currently living in poverty.

But then that’s probably way too liberal a thought and I’m secretly trying to destroy the country :rolleyes:

To be fair, I think the native Americans might have a different view on whether the US was (or is) an expansionist empire. I mean, the US today is bigger than it was in 1776.

Another civil war. It’s happening now, with the divide between urban states and rural states, and with the refusal of Republicans and Democrats to compromise, and with the Republicans spending all their time trying to defeat Obamacare. At the same time, I see the far right spending their efforts on abolishing freedoms in the name of “freedom from government.” At the next major economic crisis, I envision a take-over of the US Government by the Tea Party fascists and the collapse of democracy.