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What actions in the history of European Empires may be analyzed

to predict the USA’s downfall?

Owen Hickerson

Senior Project Advisor: Kyle Edmonson

By analyzing historical texts and literature it is possible to create a story of our worlds past. I
looked into how the history of empires can be applied to modern day America. My research
looked directly at the factors that led to the overall process of the collapse of the Russian and
Ottoman Empires. Beginning by looking at the unique stories each empire could tell the world, it
became more apparent that there were larger and smaller factors that fell into the collapse of
empires. The collapse fundamentally is due to economics, which may be expressed through
militaristic, religious, or political breakdowns. These findings mostly came from scholarly
articles based on the story and analysis of the unique empires fall. The overall implications
showed a large correlation between the actions America is taking today and the actions the
empires of old took.

12th Grade Humanities

Animas High School

11 March 2019

Part 1- Introduction

It is said that history is simply a collection of stories, meant to teach what has happened

and what has yet to happen. History has long been recorded in order to teach us about what

happened at that time, for we could never witness the same event again. WWII will never play

out in 2019, and the signing of the Declaration of Independence will not happen in the next five

years. Ancient empires allow the modern man to learn of not one man's failure, but rather whole

nations’ failures. Observing how the colosseum became a pile of ruble thousands of years after it

happened, or learning of why entire societies disappear from existence millenia ago.

Empires have long been a large factor in the evolution of society, and how unique

societies and religions have evolved under and around imperial power. By looking deeply into

the history of a few of the most famous empires, it may be found that empires are an example of

when these societies worked and when they failed. Two empires above others created an impact

on the ideas and practices of their era. The Russian Empire demonstrated what happens when a

political system set in place by powerful leaders does not work, and why a collapse may take

over 100 years to take full effect. Following the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire was a

long-standing financial nation known in their time as an economically powerful country. Over

the centuries they had an unwillingness to change, and adapt to the world, eventually leading to

their own demise. Observing these empires and showing how the signs of their downfall and the

actions leading to said downfall should have been acknowledged but were rather ignored. By

applying these principles and observing them in modern day America we may be able to develop

the ability to analyze current actions being taken in America and predict if they are leading to

America's collapse. An empire's fall may be indicated by instabilities which often have

underlying problems that lead to the empires collapse. The collapse fundamentally is due to

economics, which may be expressed through militaristic, religious, or political breakdowns.

Part 2- History/Background

What makes an empire? “ Empire is ‘a relationship, formal or informal, in which one

state controls the effective political sovereignty of another political society.”(Michael Doyle).

This control over sovereignty and society causes the empires to push their ideals upon other

countries, creeds and ideals. An empires title is mostly a label and not a state of being. It is meant

to show the power that the collection of people have over others. These empires may be strong

because certain fundamental ideals work well in these countries. The most important of which is


How do economics influence a society? Do they create corruption or provide an

opportunity to the unfortunate? In 1642, the Ottoman Empire had its own form of economic

success: setting up trade routes through their empire, expanding into foreign lands, conquering

those around them, allowing their empire to control the trade of more goods entering and exiting

Europe. Suleyman I, also known as Suleyman the Magnificent was a rich ruler beloved by the

Ottoman people, as he made a desolate empire into one of the richest in history. “The bonus of

the padishah to those who sacrifice their lives for him and bring heads of the foes of religion and

state being not more than the allowance a master gives his slaves, they [the kul] turned war and

combat into an infant's game.”(Murphey) He created a murder force that would infiltrate

alternate countries and tear down their powers. The force was known as the kul and they were

commanded not to show their own mercy, only that of Suleyman. Suleyman however could not

be Sultanate forever, eventually age caught up to him and Selim II stepped in as Sultanate of the

Ottoman Empire.

In the following centuries after Suleyman I, the Ottoman people lost their economic

success and trade routes due to the evolution of technology and the development of new trade

routes leading around the Ottoman Empire. Making their main form of income almost

completely obsolete. They did however, maintain their military power over the centuries, sadly

losing the economic status to fund it. The success that they had been a part of caused them to

clinging to the power and ideals that worked for them in their time of grandeur. Even from 1500

when Suleyman I lead the Ottoman people around the Black Sea till the day WWI crashed upon

the doorsteps of Europe and Britain, Russia and France invaded, their economic structure never

altered to be suitable to the modern market. However in the comparison of empires the Ottoman

peoples resilience and stubbornness is nothing compared to the people of ​мать​ ​Россия1.

Russia was powerful as an empire, spreading their ideals and power across the east and

south. Invasions reaching into the Caucasus mountains, and having battled the Mongolian

Empire for centuries, had become strong willed. They were resilient people, living in a

never-ending blizzard, keeping warm with thick hide coats, furry hats, and ​водка2. An empire

built to carry on the great ideals of Caesar, with their own Tsar. Tsarist Russia was a Russian

form of a kingdom. They shared some of their ideals with Caesar of Rome but had more of the

political structure of 1800’s Britain, with less money. The Russia people were poor while the

Mother Russia

Tsar was rich, holding its power over its people, but failing to hold power over outside forces.

The Tsar’s people starved and froze yet they endured because of their unbreakable wills and

strong spirits. After years of fighting for the Tsar and receiving nothing in return the last Tsar,

Nicholas II, was overthrown and executed by the Bolshevik family for his inability to rule his

country this resulted in Russia descending into civil war..

The Romanov family rule ended and the Tsar was cut out of Russia. 1918 and the

following years were harsh, as everything changed for the Russian people who now after years of

civil war, looked to a man who had been a strong figurehead,Vladimir Lenin. He sought to

instead of creating a new government rather, have the Slavic people try to run a country with no

one true leader, however inevitably it failed. In 1945 when Russia defeated Adolf Hitler and

ended WWII their system of no true leader was ended as well. After Lenin's death Joseph Stalin

took power to become supreme ruler of Russia. However, he was revered as a champion by his

people because he led them to be the heroes of one of the largest wars in history. From there

Soviet Russia degraded. A dictator now controlled all the money and the people had none.

Everything had changed yet nothing had changed because they were in the same place as 70

years earlier. The following leaders stepped where Stalin did and carried on in Josephs absence.

These leaders carried on with the Cold War, almost a death threat hanging over themselves and

the Russian people. If one man shot they were all dead. Eventually it all had to come to end and

the Russian people spared. Then on December 21, 1991 Russia was dissolved as an Empire.

Russia then became a Democratic oligarchy state by electing their first president.

Part 3- Research and Analysis

The Ottoman Empire wasn’t just a country built on trade routes, they were worked deep

into the economic market of their time. By forcing themselves to be a part of Eastern European

trade and politics, they created a market that they could tax and draw money from. For their time,

they were rich and were able to enforce their imperial status upon Europe, however, in the end,

their stubborn spirits inevitably lead them to be a poor country with leaders who sought money

rather than well being. “​The Ottoman Empire has the body of a sick old man, who tried to appear

healthy, although his end was near.​”(​Sir Thomas Roe​) Due to them maintaining military prowess,

they appeared to be strong and well functioning, while behind the scenes, their economic funds

and trade had all but vanished. Then as their ability to fund themselves grew thinner, they were

led into a battle they could not win, in a war, they should not have been a part of. Times were

low in the Ottoman empire, but a leader stepped into a position of power. The public placed him

on a pedestal for the time only to later realize their mistake. Dr.Nazim Bey, a leader known for

his role in the Armenian genocide took power over a major part of the Ottoman Empire,

including the military, he then led the Ottoman armies into WWII against the Allied Powers.

Sultan Mehmed VI was the rightful ruler of Ottoman who many perceived as a fair ruler, Dr.

Naziem, however, saw his unwillingness to fight in WWI as a problem. In his disagreement with

the Sultanate, he and his supporters interject themselves into the politics of their country and

attempted to push their power across the European states. His first and last action after joining

the Central Powers was an attack on the Russian base in the Black Sea.

The Black Sea Raid launched Ottoman straight into a war with a few of the strongest

empires of the time. Britain, France, and Russia gathered together to take action against the

Ottoman threat. After Dr.Nazeim Bey was cast out, one of the forefront generals of the Ottoman

Empires armies looked to defend his people. Enver Pasha was a wise and tacktile leader, he

immediately set out to create defenses across the Ottoman Empire. Together with his army, they

held the Ottoman Empire at the Caucasus mountains and the great city of Constantinople. In the

end, the Ottoman Armies only held a portion of their once great empire. Then in 1918, the

Ottoman Empire was dissolved and for the following years, and all the way to present day,

carried on as a country. Come 1923 they were officially established as Turkey once all their

other provinces were separated into individual states governed by France and Britain.

If the Ottomans had been willing to change, willing to advance their economic market to

modern times, to industrialize with the movement of the world, the Ottoman Empire at the very

least would have been capable of carrying on their centuries of legacy. Their economic failing

led to a lack of supplies to defend their country fully. With an inability to adapt their beliefs and

ideals to modern times, they forced themselves to remain in an older version of the world,

eventually leading to the fall of their once great empire. A chain of events set in place by first

having great economic success. Isaac Newton once said, 3“​To every action, there is always

opposed an equal reaction.” Laws of nature stand strong even for empires built on power and

money, therefore their economic collapse was inevitable, the Ottoman Empire was just a larger

chain of events than one metal ball hitting another.

Who made it farther? The rock that lay in the stream, or the bear in a boat who crashed

five miles downriver? The answer seems fairly obvious, “Well the bear. I mean he made it five

Thank You For Referring Back

miles farther than the rock.” But is that true? The common perspective of the person reading this

would be to look at the bear, and see that it moved farther downstream than the rock. Now if you

take a step back and look at this question from a completely new angle you will see that both the

bear and the rock ended at the bottom of the river. So when asked who made it farther, the Slav

or the Turk? You could say they both ended up, at rock bottom.

The Tsar of Russia, the bear of the world, our Slavic cousins, a group of people known to

be resilient and cold-hearted, forged an empire in the test of time, only to be torn down in the

face of internal conflict. They were a desolate country run by corrupt politicians and strong

rulers. Due to the extreme cold, they faced year in and year out, problems relating to, farming

food, importing goods and maintaining their people's ability to lead healthy was heavily

impacted. Potatoes were the only crop that would grow across the ice-ridden land, water was

hard to purify and led to many people's deaths with the lack of sanitization. It was an

underdeveloped empire that influenced its ability to conquer lands and push their imperial ideals

upon others yet failed to support their own people. In Russian culture a common saying is “Ба́ры

деру́тся -- у холо́пов чубы́ треща́т.”(When the rich make war it is the poor that die.) The Tsar

was willing to throw the lives of every man upon the battlefield and still said no prayer would be

said for them. The rich made war to show the power they wielded and the poor man suffered for

the rich man's choice.

The largest separation between the Russian people was the wages earned. The rich of

Russia sought to get richer, even if it meant the poor became the ice sculptures on their back

lawn. The Tsar's people were freezing and starving and the rulers of the Tsar couldn't care

less.​“Peter, who broke his enemies on the rack and hanged them in Red Square, who had his son

tortured to death, is Peter the Great. But Nicholas, whose hand was lighter than that of any tsar

before him, is "Bloody Nicholas". In human terms, this is irony rich and dramatic, the more so

because Nicholas knew what he was called.”(Massie) Their society was set up backwards,

funneling everything away from those who needed into the pockets of those who wanted it.

Money was everything, and he who controlled the money controlled Russia. They pushed

themselves deeper and deeper into a cycle of paying to the highest power until a new power

stepped in to inherit the collection agency that was Russia's Tsar. “Defending human rights

should be an important objective of foreign policy, and that, too, will sometimes be hard to

reconcile with an economic agenda, especially when it comes to dealing with rich but repressive

players like China and Russia.”(Freeland) The Tsar wanted money in their pockets to push this

empirical power they had built over hundreds of years against the European states. Starve a dog

for long enough however and eventually they will bite back.

The money kept pooling up in the clot of political mistakes and economic breakdowns,

until one day the people of Russia rose up, killing the Tsar and taking back their own futures. In

the Tsar's place, the people of Russia banded together to form a set of rules to protect their

people and give them power over their own lives and give each one the needed things that they

themselves could not create. This was the USSR, the Soviet Union, the continuation of the Tsar

with the abolition of political withholding. Still Russia remained poor, the wealth was distributed

across the nation, but one man's treasure is not millions of civilians saviors.

They now had the freedom to live a healthy life but the inability to do so. In order to eat

you must work, and so every man, woman and child worked. The labor the Tsar enforced upon

the Russian people was brutal and yet still as their own governors, the Russian people were

unable to go to bed with full stomachs. Their country had gone from the poor with a Tsar to

impoverished without one. “If atheism solved all human woe, then the Soviet Union would have

been an empire of joy and dancing bunnies instead of the land of corpses.”(Wright) They knew

there was no greater power to help them from the struggle they had inherited. This “land of

corpses” only gained unmarked headstones rather than economic support.

This lasted for nearly 40 years until one fateful war came crashing upon them like a

tsunami, screaming for action and change. One man answered, Joseph Stalin. He stepped up to

the plate, bat in hand, ready to hit a home run for the people of Russia. Joseph Stalin was an

incredible leader, capable of rallying his people behind him and charging them to victory in

WWII. He had a five-year plan to fix all the problems that had plagued their Soviet state.

However, he set in motion their inevitable further decline when he took power over Russia and

signed a dissolution4 form for the Soviet Union. In the end, their imperial status fell from their

hands and by 1991 Russia officially lost their status as an empire and their communist dream was

brought to a halt by a new Oligarchy. Their political corruption and economic dropouts pushed

their empire over the edge, eventually leading to the full economic cave in they experienced in

1991. This collapse was brought on and expressed by political failings, these failings acted as a

sledgehammer to the already shaky supports their empire had set in place around their economic


The Empires that have risen throughout history have presented us with tales of woe to

rival that of even Shakespeare. An instruction manual to the ever-dwindling mistakes those who

came before us had to make. Once we realize the mistakes we ourselves should not make, is


when we will find the balance of rich and poor, full and starving, falling and rising. Upon that

day we will all watch as our world ends, but until then we can only guess.

Part 4-The Story’s Moral

Before you shut the pages of your history book, before you forsake what came before,

you must look at how it all happens, why it matters, who we should watch for the beginning of

the end. So let’s begin. In the Ottoman Empire, they hid their true intentions and abilities behind

a powerful facade. They became caught in the world that worked for their forefathers, they were

caught in tradition and followed a political system they only sought power while promising the

people well being. In their end, they were the same strong-willed people as when Suleyman I

had led them to victory. But they were poor, couldn’t change and in disagreement, their

government began to take too much power and ended up pushing them into their own grave.

Switch to today, although we may be rich, we are caught in tradition, our 45th president, a man

chosen by us, for us, pushes the idea of how economically strong we are, however, we may not

be as stable as you believe. A mass majority of our economic success currently comes from our

trade, not from our own production. In 2013 $11.3 million dollars worth of American salaries

alone. Now in 2019, the number is likely to have quintupled, due to the fact that in 2009 trade

made only $1.6 million worth of American salaries. If our trade stopped at this point there

would be massive problems and damages to our economy and the well being of almost every

citizen. It may seem impossible, however with a president such as ours, it seems as if our

relations may be a little shaky. Sound familiar?

Now Russia starved their own people if it meant the rich gained more money, and they

would willingly change their own political structure to attempt to fix that, would we? We let

homeless people go hungry and laugh at their lack of money, we are a cruel society where a man

can’t live his own life that he built simply because someone else made the system work better in

their favor. Do many people deserve the money they have earned? Does our economy not

support each other? It appears as if we should because, in the face of internal struggle, Russia

executed their leader and forcefully took power, over their own lives. Russia was set on

communism, America on capitalism. Both extreme opposites of each other, both right in their

own regard. Then as Russia lost power the free market gained theirs. The Americans set their

empirical power in place as they fought this communist threat. Pushing back this beast and in the

process, all the time trying to look as good as possible for our sponsors. The American people

are unwilling to change, sounds familiar, they believe strongly in their country and have faith it

will prevail. In a report by Deagel, a company that creates predictions about the status of the

world by using surveys. It is noticeable that by the year 2025 American citizens predicted that

more than two-thirds of their own population will want to leave the country. The people of

America are known to be faithful to their country, however, at this point in time, they are the

laughing stock of the world, seeing as how most third world countries have a president with the

ability to at least act and perform professionally. A leader will inevitably be their downfall, and

they will see the chain of events set in motion by all those who came before. The Americans

were rich and they still are. But back in 1500’s time, so was the Ottoman Empire. Fore as Sir

Isaac Newton said…. Uh, hum, uh sorry I don’t wanna say it twice, refer back to footnote 3.

. We execute what we see as good and never take a glance at the other side of the

argument, and that is why America is an Empire in 2019. Not because we have extreme power

over other countries, though we do remain in wars that afford much of our tax dollars meant for

the community. These wars are not needed in the modern day American thought, and because of

this inability to modernize and evolve with the times, we will eventually fall to our own

traditions. In comparison to empires of the past, as Russia showed the 100 year slide and the

Ottoman’s stepping stones to the end, America may only have 50-100 years, maybe even less,

until our economic imbalance, our militaristic overextension and our political withholdings lead

us to become, just like what we tore down. More capable of enforcing its power over its citizens

than its enemies and using faulty figureheads to conduct our universal trade and alliances. So

maybe it’s time to stop making America great and start finding it a balance.


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