Analyzing the trajectory of several nations throughout history can provide vital insights into the ongoing developments worldwide. In this blog, we compare the rise and decline of key empires, including Spain, Britain, Japan, and China, providing a macro perspective on their historical journey.

The Flourishing and Decline of the Spanish Empire (1500s – 1800s)

Spain experienced a remarkable period of growth and power in the 1500s, marked by discovery of American continent, Christianization and the conquest of Portugal. After enjoying an influential status internationally for two centuries, the Spanish empire saw gradual decline from the 1700s, eventually resulting in significant fallbacks in the 1800s.

As the Spanish monarchy began to adopt a passive stance in international politics from the 1700s, signs of decline became more visible over the next century. For example, Spain lost trade routes with Japan overthrown by Dutch, the rising power in the mid 1600s, who was granted the exclusive rights.

But that decline was exacerbated by Spanish colonies in America becoming independent in the early 1800s.

What this tells is the decline of empire does not follow collapse. It is rather a gradual decline over centuries with period remarks of humiliation. Through the decline, it'll remain present in the international politics and local competitions, which end in the internal turmoil.

Boom and Stagnation: The British and French Empires

On the other hand, the British and French empires embarked on a quest for riches from the 1750s and enjoyed an exceptional run for the next hundred years. Despite significant military presence and late-empire territorial possessions, both nations experienced relative stagnation over the course of the 19th century. Their visible decline began around the 1950s when both lost territories, announcing their diminished status in world affairs. This remained true all while they maintained appearance of strong powers which are beyond their actual capability with the holding power of nuclear power as well as UN permanent seat.

In the present era in the 21st century, Britain, after instigating Brexit, and France, with its waning central African influence, mirror Spain in the 1800s – replete with impending turmoil. That chaos will likely continue on for the rest of the century.

They will likely lose all island territories in Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. And will be removed from the global political decision making seats (either by reestablishment of UN international coucil). In terms of UK, that'll be marked by the loss of global knowledge centre, similar to Baghdad in 1200s. That'll likely be triggered by devaluation of pounds, which started from 1970s, but continue to decline from the debt pressure.

Comparisons with the Orient: Japan's & China's Growth Arc

Japan's journey over the past 150 years presents a unique case. The initial focus on militarization and staving off foreign interference mirrors the rise of Spain against Muslim neighbord. However, unlike Spain, Japan is yet to witness a visible lead in its international influence. It has only caught up to the western standard in 1990.

China, being a newer player in the global sphere, is more akin to Britain in the 1680s, with domestic living standards still catching up to international benchmarks. The Chinese "empire" is in its infancy – a nascent global power.

Implications for the Future

Singapore presents interesting case studies. The nation has exhibited sustainable wealth and growth over the past few decades. They've reached the western standard by GDP PPP in 1995 with a simple shipping hub and manufacturing center, but continued growing thereafter marketing the value today twice as high as Germany ($133,000 vs $66,000). They make a case what's possible beyond the western living standard with continued investment and well-managed states.

As we look towards 2050 and beyond, we see the potential for continued growth in Singapore, a palpable resurgence for Japan, and the evolution of China into a full-fledged superpower.

American Exceptionalism or a Mirror to the Past?

An analysis of American history since the 1830s reveals a trajectory similar to that of France and the UK. With the American empire's remarkable growth from 1830-1930, followed by a period of relative economic stagnation till 2030 (while maintaining strong military presence and US dollar as the reserve currency throughout), levels of international influence may be set to undergo a visible decline in the run-up to 2130. Much like Britain's UN seat, America may sustain a diminished, yet influential, role in world affairs. But the country will undergo what people may see as an international humiliation. Some examples may include the loss of military presence in Middle East, east Asia and Europe. Acceptance of ideological defeats called democracy that's been the central US foreign agenda since the end of WW2. Braindrains that start to occur. Lastly, the American universities no longer play the centre of knowledge and innovation.

However, they'll remain influential into 2130 in the sphere of North America as well as pacific territories like Guam and Hawai.

The shifting landscapes of global power paint an intriguing picture. Although direct comparisons may be unjust due to context variances, we find similarities in the rise, stagnation, and decline of world powers. The lessons of the past and the rise of new global players shape the dynamics of international geopolitics. Only time will validate these predictions as history unfolds.