“High office teaches decision making, not substance. It consumes intellectual capital; it does not create it. Most high officials leave office with the perceptions and insights with which they entered; they learn how to make decisions but not what decisions to make.” ~ Henry Kissinger in his book White House Years.
Kissinger’s saying is true not only for individuals but also for nations. When a nation has captured the world’s highest geopolitical office—and has become a superpower—it has the capacity to take quick decisions on a range of geopolitical issues but it is bereft of the capacity to create new intellectual capital. It loses the capacity to learn from past mistakes and its political culture becomes ossified. The more powerful the nation, the greater is the decline in its intellectual capabilities. Absolute power not only corrupts absolutely, it dumbs absolutely.
Ten years as a superpower is enough to make a nation corrupt, insecure, and intellectually feeble. What kind of decisions can we expect from a superpower that is at the zenith of its power? These decisions will be of the calibre of the inept decisions that Emperor Caligula made for the Roman Empire during his reign of just four years (16 March 37 – 24 January 41).
After winning the Second World War in 1945, America became the world’s superpower. In the same period, America started losing its capacity to create new intellectual capital. The quality of American decision making has been steadily declining since 1945. America was the fountainhead of some of the worst political, economic, environmental, and medical ideas which have plagued the world after 1970. Instead of creating peace, prosperity, and freedom, America’s decisions have led to the rise of new conflicts and tyrannies.
The biggest nightmare for the Americans is not communism or terrorism—what they really fear is that some nation, in some non-Western part of the world, will become more developed than the West. What they really want is perpetual geopolitical power. They intend to maintain Western hegemony perpetually. After 1970, most of the geopolitical decisions that the Americans have made have led to disastrous outcomes, especially in the non-Western parts of the world.
For the American establishment power is an aphrodisiac. (Kissinger has famously observed, “Power is an aphrodisiac”). While the Americans relish their aphrodisiac, their bad decisions destroy the lives of the folks in poor and developing countries. A nation that lacks the capacity to create new intellectual capital cannot survive for long. When America goes down—it inevitably will—it will drag the rest of the West down with it. The fall of the West, which has dominated the world for almost 500 years, will usher a new age for mankind.