Countries, governments, empires rise and fall. I was not a bad student of history. I learned the three to five to seven reasons why Greece and Rome and the city states of Italy and England and France and various dynasties of China fell. Somewhere in those reasons was usually some catastrophic event— a war lost or a prolonged war won but leaving a weakened empire or a natural disaster. I imagined that the linchpin of any fall was that catastrophic event.
When David and I lived in Frascati, Italy, we would talk politics with our landlord and his young adult children. Mr. Maoli told us that the United States was powerful now but that as a nation we were children. He said that once there was nothing stronger than Rome, and in another age Venice, Siena, Florence and Genoa were all powerful. And now, they were not. I agreed. He made sense. Nothing, even a democracy, even the leader of the free world, lasts forever. Continue reading