Every gardener is fighting a constant battle against chaos. Hard work must be done to construct planter beds, pull weeds, and generally repel the relentless forces of nature that seek to take back what the gardener has built.
If the garden is to persist, its owner must transmit the importance of its maintenance from one generation of owner to the next. Without constant upkeep and renewal, a beautiful garden that has lasted for centuries can be recaptured by nature in just a few years.
Empires that replace their own troops with recruits from foreign nations have a nasty history of being torn apart from the inside.
Nations and empires inevitably meet the same fate as the untended garden. Without a constant renewal of shared identity, these political orders quickly decay into a chaotic struggle of factional interests.
The United States is demonstrating all the classic signs of late imperial fatigue. If the country cannot find the courage to forge a unified vision once again, it will be torn apart by the petty squabbles of a sick and dying civilization.
A bad sign
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday attempted to express her condolences to the families of three American soldiers who were killed last week in the Middle East. I say “attempted” because the woman could barely form a sentence, a skill that would generally be considered a prerequisite for the position she holds.
While Pierre demonstrates an almost comical level of ineptitude, her buffoonery often has the positive effect of accidentally exposing what our ruling class really believes. While making her statement, Jean-Pierre said that the soldiers had died fighting “on behalf of the administration.” Recognizing her slip, with some additional stuttering, Jean-Pierre quickly added: “and the American people.” But the truth was clear.
Standing armies that are personally loyal to a particular ruler or regime instead of the people or nation are always a bad sign. A military force that identities with the nation is unlikely to follow orders that target citizens or violate their shared values. Soldiers who feel like outsiders and share only their loyalty to the current ruler are far more likely to carry out orders against the regime’s enemies.
The Biden administration knows this. Its officials used the COVID-19 vaccine as a pretext to oust from the ranks of the military as many conservatives and Trump supporters as possible. The left has been enacting a slow revolution inside the armed forces since the 1990s, but the Biden administration dramatically accelerated the process to ensure ideological purity among its ranks.
What happened next should hardly come as a surprise. The military has encountered a serious recruiting deficit after purging many of its most capable fighters for political heresy. Instead of removing its ideological bias, the administration seems determined to fill the gap by enlisting more immigrants. Empires that replace their own troops with recruits from foreign nations have a nasty history of being torn apart from the inside.
The need to fill those ranks has become even more urgent as the Biden administration attempts to generate the pretext for a war with Iran. How a third consecutive regime-change project in the Middle East would benefit the American people is unclear, but the politicians from both parties who profit from the military-industrial complex are certain war is necessary.
Ultimately, the Biden administration believes that the American military exists only for the benefit of the ruling class, and in less guarded, more incompetent moments, officials announce that fact.
Enemies foreign and domestic
Footage surfaced last week of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) addressing a crowd in Somali as she explained her blood ties compel her to prioritize Somalia first and Muslims second. She told supporters that her “No. 1 job” in Congress is to protect Somalia’s interests and territory.
The naked prioritization of foreign interest was shocking to many, but it is exactly what one would expect in the late stages of a failing empire.
As the late Samuel Huntington explained in “The Clash of Civilizations,” diasporas often place large populations of immigrants with strong ties to their homelands into dominant nations. The immigrants, in turn, exert major influence over the foreign policy priorities of their new country. This is why many paleoconservatives warned that mass immigration, both legal and illegal, was a danger to American sovereignty and identity.
Nations are generally capable of assimilating small numbers of new arrivals. Given enough time, those people can come to share the values and priorities of the native population. But massive waves of immigration have been drowning the United States for decades, making assimilation practically impossible.
When large blocs of unassimilated foreigners immigrate into a representative system, the results are almost always the same. When the current round of violence between the Palestinians and Israelis broke out in October, crowds of protesters from both groups massed in the streets of many American cities to scream at each other and, in some cases, engage in direct conflict. Nations that do not maintain control of their borders quickly find themselves embroiled in the ethnic squabbles of various imported groups.
Omar’s “Somalia first” posturing may have been more brazen than many Americans are accustomed to, but the problem is not unique to her. American politicians have proven over and over that they are more interested in protecting the borders of foreign countries like Israel or Ukraine than they are in stopping the invasion surging across their own southern border. U.S. taxpayers are still providing pensions for Ukrainian bureaucrats and weapons systems for Israel, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, while politicians attempt to cut Social Security and refuse to build a border wall.
A ruling elite that believes the military’s chief loyalty should be to the current presidential administration and national political leaders who declare their primary loyalty to foreign nations — these are real late imperial hours.
America has not tended its garden. It has not renewed its shared identity and moral vision, nor has it passed the importance of maintaining that tradition to the next generation. “Freedom,” Ronald Reagan famously observed, “is never more than one generation away from extinction.” If the United States is to hand anything other than chaos to its posterity, it must first rediscover the will to put America first.