Johan Galtung on “The Fall of the US Empire”

AMY GOODMAN: In these last few minutes, we’re going to talk about war. The amount of money the US has spent on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq surpassed the $1 trillion mark last week, according to the National Priorities Project cost of war counter. To date, over $747 billion has been appropriated for the war in Iraq and $299 billion for the war in Afghanistan.

We turn right now, in the last few minutes, to a man who has spent the last half-century pursuing nonviolent conflict resolution. He’s known as a father of peace studies. His name is Johan Galtung. His latest book, The Fall of the US Empire–And Then What?: Successors, Regionalization or Globalization? US Fascism or US Blossoming?

We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Johan Galtung. As you survey they geopolitical landscape right now and the wars that the US is involved with, what are your thoughts?

JOHAN GALTUNG: Well, thank you so much for inviting me.

It’s an empire against a wall; an empire in despair; an empire, I would say, in its last phase. My prediction in the book that is here, that you mentioned, The Fall of the US Empire–And Then What?, is that it cannot last longer than ’til about 2020. In 1980, I predicted for the Soviet empire that it will crack at its weakest point, the wall of Berlin, within ten years, and it happened in November 1989, and the Soviet empire followed. So my prediction is a similar one for the US empire. And that could lead to the blossoming of the US.

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you say ten years, that the US empire collapses in a decade?

JOHAN GALTUNG: Within ten years — well, the prediction was made in year 2000, and I actually said twenty-five years. But then Bush was elected president, and his narrow vision, his fundamentalism, made me cut it by five years, because I saw him as an accelerator, which he certainly did, launching three wars — war on terrorism, war on Afghanistan and war on Iraq. Now, this comes after the US did not win 1953 in Korea and lost 30 April, 1975 in Vietnam. In other words, we are now in war number five of major significance. That is typical for the decline of the empire that it goes like that. When you ask me why did I have that time horizon, well, I made a comparative study of quite a lot of declines of empires. I’m a little bit of an expert on that, actually. And there are certain factors that are similar. They rise and decline more quickly now. Of course, the two Roman empires, the Western and the Eastern, lasted longer. Now it’s quicker. The US started, I would say, in 1898, walking into the shoes of the dying or dead Spanish empire. And we are now dealing with a phenomenon which is about 110, 112 years old. And as I told you, I put the upper limit at 2020.

AMY GOODMAN: When you ask “And then what?” you say “US fascism or US blossoming?” What do you mean?

JOHAN GALTUNG: What we see right now is an intensification spreading, special forces increasing, let us say, from thirty to forty-five countries. And that’s exactly what you would expect. It’s an effort to try to externalize, to say that there are enemies abroad that are trying to get at us, instead of saying the obvious, namely that we have made a construction, and that construction is dying itself. If you try to dominate the world economically, militarily, politically and culturally at the same time, and then having these four support each other, it cannot last for a long time. And that’s the phase we are in now. Now, in that period, there will be fascist reactions. It’s not impossible that it could be a military coup in the US from the right, not impossible within this period. But, you see, I am much more optimistic than that: I think that the US is in for a blossoming period. Look at what happened to England when it got rid of its empire from 1965 on. Russia got rid of its empire from 1991. They took some time. There was a bad Yeltsin period. Right now Russia is rising. You see the same in France. You see it in Italy.

AMY GOODMAN: Johan Galtung, we’re going to break now and bring our viewers and listeners part two of our conversation this week. Johan Galtung is known as the father of peace studies. His latest book, The Fall of the US Empire–And Then What?


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