Los Angeles — NEW Year's weekend traditionally is a time for us to reflect,
and to make resolutions based on our reflections. In this fresh year, with the
United States seemingly at the height of its power and at the start of a new
presidential term, Americans are increasingly concerned and divided about where
we are going. How long can America remain ascendant? Where will we stand 10
years from now, or even next year?
Such questions seem especially appropriate this year. History warns us that when
once-powerful societies collapse, they tend to do so quickly and unexpectedly.
That shouldn't come as much of a surprise: peak power usually means peak
population, peak needs, and hence peak vulnerability. What can be learned from
history that could help us avoid joining the ranks of those who declined
swiftly? We must expect the answers to be complex, because historical reality is
complex: while some societies did indeed collapse spectacularly, ...