Monitoring media immediately before and after Osama Bin Laden’s death threw up some interesting parallels in the decline of two empires - the United States and the UK. Here’s how Howard Fineman, writing in the Huffington Post saw the death of Osama Bin Laden and its implications for the United States: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/02/osama-bin-laden-barack-obama-america_n_856107.html
‘….but this is a salving moment, not a saving one. The world and the country have simply changed too much since Al Qaeda's attack on that bright sunny September day nearly ten years ago. We are still America, but we are a beleaguered America.
A decade ago, the U.S. Treasury was flush with money; we were in reasonably good spirits about our fate despite a divisive election decided by the Supreme Court.
Ten years later, we are $14 trillion worth of broke. We joke nervously about how the Chinese own us now, or soon will. We are still fighting two and a half wars in the Muslim arc from Libya to Afghanistan, wars we can't afford to fight yet can't quite decide to abandon.
The gap between the richest and the rest of us has reached Dickensian proportions. Americans are distrustful to the point of disgust in their political and business leaders, in Congress, in the media. In the rest of the world we remain feared for our might but, for the most part, not well respected even as we try to repair our diplomatic standing. We are not a garrison state, but security consciousness is a costly and corrosive part of our everyday life.’
That was May 2 after Osama’s death, but a couple of days earlier, Ian Jack, a journalist and author of the book The Country Formerly Known as Great Britain wrote in Newsweek:
‘When Charles married Diana, British coal pits still employed 250,000 miners; British shipyards still launched ships; British factories still made steel, cars, confectionery, clothes, and beer.
‘Today mining, shipbuilding and textiles have almost vanished. What survives of the rest is mainly in the hands of foreign companies. Which of us in 1981 could have imagined that every British chocolate bar would be made from firms run from Switzerland and the US; that London’s water supply would be owned in Germany and its electricity in France; that the future of Britain’s steel mills would hang by threads attached to Mumbai and Bangkok HQs?’
The British Empire as such was finished long before 1981. But in the past 30 years something more important seems to have been lost to both the UK and the USA – their sovereignty. In those 30 years both were the strident Free Market advocates. Is it possible now to say: look where it got them?
And back home should we fear similar losses of sovereignty given that at top levels the only acceptable ideology is the fantasy of the Free Market - whose only proven efficiency lies in increasing the rich poor - gap?