The Persistence of Empire

The last one hundred years have seen particularly intense conflict as nation states have either been either been the target or initiator of empire building. 

Once again, empires may be taking the place of nation states as boundaries largely put in place by the Western powers are fast proving not only permeable, but potentially completely erasable by forces hostile to and contemptuous of national boundaries.  The nation state is in danger of becoming an historic anomaly because of global empire building that threatens to envelop individual nations. 

The Middle East

In the Middle East, the long-desired return to a caliphate has created resurgence against the national constructs in place at the end of WWI and maintained by American power during and after WWII. But with the present weakening of Western hegemony, impelled by a sense of an historic and inalienable right to expand once again to the boundaries once attained at the height of the Moslem and Ottoman Empires, Islamists are intent on re-establishing hegemony in the Middle East.


Under Vladimir Putin, the desire to rebuild empire has been revived. Putin doubtless sees the rightful inheritance of Russia as including the territories that were under Russian control in 1866, the height of Russian expansion. As is usual with those who want to reconstitute empires, Putin takes the height of Russia’s expansion as normative, seeing as Russia’s destiny the return of all entities that once were dominated by his country. Therefore, it is not just the Crimea or even the Ukraine that are endangered. The smaller nations that were devoured by Stalin after WWII are also inevitably a target of a Russia led by the desire to regain “lost” territory.  

Russian expansionism, if not halted, means that countries like Poland and Bulgaria are once again endangered. In fact, most of Eastern Europe may be threatened by Russian expansionism as evidenced by the seizure of Crimea. Leaders of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia are deeply concerned.

For now, it appears that Russia is ignoring the Far East, though it is quite possible that Mongolia will become a flashpoint between China and Russian. Mongolia is a sheep between two wolves. It is not too farfetched to see a tradeoff between China and Russia, one in which China turns a blind eye to Russia’s ambitions in Europe alone while Russia concedes Chinese hegemony in Mongolia.  Both empires would get what they want -- increased territory.


Presently, the Chinese appear intent on making The South China Sea a Chinese lake. China claims much of the South China Sea under its “nine dash-line” map (now morphing into a ten dash line map), first published in 1949 by the communist regime. The line takes in some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and affects the entirety of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and the Paracel and Spratly Islands. The dotted line threatens to isolate Japan and Taiwan. Even Australia is potentially affected.

The extension of Chinese hegemony into the whole of the South China Sea is as serious an issue as Germany’s claims over Czechoslovakian, Polish, and French territory before WWII. The building of empires involves dominance of seas, as history shows when Japan turned most of the Pacific into a Japanese lake during and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. To have control of sea lanes means the potential strangulation of any given nation’s economy, if not worse.

The above is to say nothing of what some see as China’s colonization of Africa. As Andrew Malone reported in MailOnline in 2008, the vacuum left by the exit of European countries from former colonies is rapidly being filled by the Chinese, who are tightening a vice-like grip on a continent China deems crucial to her survival.

What’s at stake for the West?


Presently dominated by Germany, the EU’s economic hegemony has turned many of the smaller European nations into quaint tourist locations, despite loud protests from those in the minor leagues of nations. 

But regardless of Germany’s resurgent economic power, she is perhaps not presently the worst threat to the peace of the European nations. Many have within -- by express invitation -- what amounts to fifth columns of unassimilated Islamists who are rapidly attaining enough power to cause catastrophic civil convulsions if not sufficiently placated.  

European nations should recall that the impulse of empire, be that impulse from Russia or Islamists, acknowledges in the long run no boundaries at all. The desire to conquer and expand is the oldest in history -- conquering until there are “no more worlds to conquer.” Accommodation may not be an option.

Further, the Europe of the future may be looking at losing the safety umbrella provided by the U.S. military as well as further diminution of NATO. European nations now are in the very difficult spot of determining whether they must rearm in order to defend themselves from aggressive empire seekers such as Russia and entities dominated by Islamism.    

United States

At the present time, the administration is demonstrating imperial ambitions toward the very nation it governs. An overweening executive branch appears intent on reducing the states to the equivalent of satrapies and Congress to a useless nonentity. Executive orders and unelected bureaucratic organizations such as the EPA, the NSA and the IRS -- among others -- are used to rule and to subdue opposition. The rapid militarization of bureaucratic entities -- even the USDA is taking up arms -- also augers ill for American citizens. 

Perhaps even more dangerous is the fact the administration is attempting to erase state/national borders by encouragement of runaway immigration that essentially amounts to an invasion. There is contempt not only for individual states such as Texas, but for national sovereignty itself. A nation without clear and defensible borders is no nation at all.

Meanwhile, the rapid and draconian reduction of U.S. military power leaves the nation vulnerable to strikes from hostile powers. President Obama is making the Franklin Roosevelt error of the 1930s by reducing military strength in order to pay for entitlements. But this time, due to nuclear missiles, there will be no grace period to make up the military gap should a power bent on expanding empire attack the U.S. as Japan did in 1941 when it bombed the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor.

In brief, while the rest of the world is empire building, the U.S. is contracting its global power even while this pestilential administration is conducting empire building by executive fiat within the homeland.

The vacuum left by the rapid diminution of American power encourages destruction of national boundaries by entities with expansionist ambitions, aggressive natures, old grievances and dreams of restoration of former lands.

If the nation states, including the U.S., are to survive, several things have to happen. 

First, the idealistic dream of transnational entities devoted to diplomatic means only as a way of uniting the world and ensuring peace have to be abandoned. Organizations like the League of Nations and the United Nations have proved to be manifest failures. They have nothing to offer when raw power plays are employed by the militarily advanced and determined entities bent on expansion. In the long run, raw power will prevail, not toothless transnational entities. 

Practically speaking, the world’s superpower must beef up, not reduce its military power -- while reducing entitlement spending. 

Next, for its own sake and the sake of its allies, the U.S. needs to expand its energy supplies, removing senseless regulations impeding the growth of energy. 

Third, the U.S. needs to consider now the reinforcement and the formulation of new alliances in order it not leave its European and Southeastern Asian allies high and dry in the face of Russian, Islamist, and Chinese expansionist ambitions.  

Here at home?

State governors and legislatures must take action now to stop the transformation of their state governments into either satrapies designed only to rubberstamp and to enforce federal policies.

But step number one must be this: The nation’s borders must be protected. State and national sovereignty is rapidly being eroded and is in danger of being erased altogether by the equivalent of invasion by foreign forces.

Establishing boundaries would be a beginning.

Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. Her articles have also appeared in many other online publications such as National Review, PJMedia, and RealClearReligion. She was selected as one of the Delaware GOP’s “Winning Women,” class of 2008.  She holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she received the seminary’s prize for excellence in systematic theology.