Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance–and Why They Fall

In a little over two centuries, America has grown from a regional power to a superpower, and to what is today called a hyperpower. But can America retain its position as the world’s dominant power, or has it already begun to decline?

Historians have debated the rise and fall of empires for centuries. To date, however, no one has studied the far rarer phenomenon of hyperpowers—those few societies that amassed such extraordinary military and economic might that they essentially dominated the world.

Now, in this sweeping history of globally dominant empires, bestselling author Amy Chua explains how hyperpowers rise and why they fall. In a series of brilliantly focused chapters, Chua examines history’s hyperpowers—Persia, Rome, Tang China, the Mongols, the Dutch, the British, and the United States—and reveals the reasons behind their success, as well as the roots of their ultimate demise.

Chua’s unprecedented study reveals a fascinating historical pattern. For all their differences, she argues, every one of these world-dominant powers was, at least by the standards of its time, extraordinarily pluralistic and tolerant. Each one succeeded by harnessing the skills and energies of individuals from very different backgrounds, and by attracting and exploiting highly talented groups that were excluded in other societies. Thus Rome allowed Africans, Spaniards, and Gauls alike to rise to the highest echelons of power, while the “barbarian” Mongols conquered their vast domains only because they practiced an ethnic and religious tolerance unheard of in their time. In contrast,

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Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, while wielding great power, failed to attain global dominance as a direct result of their racial and religious intolerance.

But Chua also uncovers a great historical irony: in virtually every instance, multicultural tolerance eventually sowed the seeds of decline, and diversity became a liability, triggering conflict, hatred, and violence.

The United States is the quintessential example of a power that rose to global dominance through tolerance and diversity. The secret to America’s success has always been its unsurpassed ability to attract enterprising immigrants. Today, however, concerns about outsourcing and uncontrolled illegal immigration are producing a backlash against our tradition of cultural openness. Has America finally reached a “tipping point”? Have we gone too far in the direction of diversity and tolerance to maintain cohesion and unity? Will we be overtaken by rising powers like China, the EU or even India?

Chua shows why American power may have already exceeded its limits and why it may be in our interest to retreat from our go-it-alone approach and promote a new multilateralism in both domestic and foreign affairs.

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A 2007 Caspian Energy Scorecard

At the heart of developing Caspian reserves are two major contenders, Russia and Western oil companies, most notably U.S. firms. Both have scored successes and minuses, but on balance, the year has seen a diminution of both Western and Russian influence, as the rising petro-states of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have moved to reassert control over their most vital national asset.

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Iran Ups The Ante

Last month, Iran tested its new “Ashura” missile with an estimated range of 1,250 miles. That, according to American Enterprise Institute scholar Charlie Szrom, could give Tehran the ability to “reach U.S. bases in the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe, including such U.S. allies as Romania, Georgia, or Ukraine.”

Even the most conservative intelligence estimates say Iran will be able to build nuclear bombs by 2015. It already has 3,000 centrifuges whirring away at its Natanz facility enriching nuclear fuel, with plans for thousands more. The world ignores this at its peril.

Meanwhile, Europe expresses outrage, but little more — and continues to sign lucrative business deals with Iran’s mullahs.

Originally published on Dec. 24, 2007.

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Underestimating Tehran And Moscow

Axis Of Evil: If Iran has suspended its nuclear weapons program, what are the Russians shipping advanced air defense systems to protect? The National Intelligence Estimate didn’t predict the Cuban missile crisis, either.

Another red flag should be raised by a statement Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar read on state radio last Wednesday. Though Moscow has since denied it, Najar said Tehran had contracted for the purchase of Russia’s state-of-the-art S-300 air defense system.

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Why did Putin Come TO Minsk? Is a Russian-Belarus Union in the Works?

Prior to the meeting speculation was rife among the Russian media that Putin intended to coerce Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka into forming a Union State that would effectively end Belarusian independence and provide Putin with a new political career as the head of the new entity, which theoretically could wield greater power than the Russian state alone under a new president. Demonstrations held by members of the opposition to protest Putin’s visit and defend Belarusian sovereignty resulted in some of the harshest military actions since the 2006 presidential elections, including the beating of United Civic Party leader Anatol Lyabedzka and the hospitalization of one youthful demonstrator, plus injuries to dozens of others.

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Experts Warn Russia Seeks Influence Over Vast Caspian Oil Reserves

Rising oil prices, a resurgent Russia and continued turbulence in the Middle East have intensified competition for control of the vast oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea. The competition, involving big business and power politics, pits Russia against the West. At stake, some experts say, is world domination of the energy market. VOA’s Brian Padden recently traveled to Azerbaijan and Germany, and has prepared a series of reports on the politics of oil. This story looks at transnational pipelines, and how they have become battlegrounds for influence and power.

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Resurgent Russia Sees Oil as a Weapon  
Azerbaijan Experiencing Economic Boom: Is Oil Money Too Alluring And Corrupting A Force To Sustain A Nation’s Economy?  
Muslims in Oil-Rich Azerbaijan Grow Increasingly Restive

Israel gets warned: Al-Qaida coming!

Indications terror network sending cells to Jewish state using foreign passports.

The security officials said al-Qaida has come to the conclusion Palestinian terror groups operating in the Gaza Strip and West Bank have had great difficulty infiltrating Israel due to the country’s security barrier and antiterror measures and that Palestinians who do successfully infiltrate are not capable of carrying out large-scale attacks inside the country.

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Analyze This: Why Assad got a French kiss-off from Sarkozy

Analyze This: Why Assad got a French kiss-off from Sarkozy
Jerusalem Post, Israel – 16 hours ago
Israel’s Foreign Ministry has set about formulating a strategy for separating Syria from the “radical axis” (Iran and its Hizbullah and Hamas allies) as
France to boycott Syria over Lebanon crisis AFP
France says suspending contacts with Syria Reuters South Africa
France ends contact with Syria over Lebanese presidential election International Herald Tribune
all 207 news articles »

North Korea Breaks End-of-Year Nuclear Declaration Promise

North Korea Breaks End-of-Year Nuclear Declaration Promise
Voice of America – 1 hour ago
By Kurt Achin The United States and Japan are expressing regret that North Korea is breaking a key promise aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs.
North Korea slams US ahead of nuclear deadline Reuters
North Korea Fails to Disclose Nuclear Data, US Says (Update2) Bloomberg
US prods North Korea on nuclear deadline CNN
ABC Online – The Associated Press
all 259 news articles »

MIRV-ing Topol — Part 1

An anti-missile shield, or America’s ambition to establish one in Europe, has become the event of the year in security and strategic terms. The most discussed subject in Russia has been an adequate but asymmetrical response.

To counter several interceptor missiles and a radar station in Europe, Russia has repeatedly said it will build up its strategic offensive capability.

Now it is deploying a new intercontinental ballistic missile RS-24 with multiple individually targetable warheads. “The RS-24 will boost the Strategic Missile Force’s ability to penetrate the missile defense system,” Colonel Alexander Vovk, head of the Force’s information service, said in mid-December.

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