After a visit to Rome, I noted the parallels between the U.S. and ancient Rome, and how we Americans would be darn lucky to match "the glory that was Rome." In addition, high unemployment in America for the long term sparks economic pessimism and raises questions about whether America's best days are behind it. But Piers Brendon, author of "The Decline and Fall of the British Empire," offers an optimistic assessment of America's future. Brandon, in a New York Times article, says America is in a far superior position to ancient Rome in its ability to maintain its world leadership because its economy is far more diversified: "The Roman economy depended on agriculture whereas the United States has an enormous industrial base," Brandon writes. The U.S. produces "nearly a quarter of the world’s manufactured goods, and dominates the relatively new invention of the service economy." Unlike Rome, America is constitutionally stable and not currently vulnerable to internal strife. Militarily, Rome was overrun by barbarians, but America's military remains powerful around the world. "It is hard to visualize an attack on America as devastating as that inflicted by Vandals, Goths and Huns on Rome," Brendon writes.
Unlike the Roman empire, the British empire, or other relatively small countries that once had empires of one kind or another, the American empire is founded on a huge and bountiful continent bordering two oceans.
To avoid over-extending itself, America needs only to reduce its hard military commitments to make them more compatible with its resources, and rely more on soft power, diplomatic and economic strength, Brendon writes.
Far more important than grasping tightly on the trappings of empire and geopolitical power -- manipulating other nations like pawns on a chess board -- Brandon believes Americans should strive to maintain national self-esteem the way the Brits have done, by perpetuating “ 'the imperishable empire' of their arts and their morals, their literature and their laws."