In the process of a nation's collapse or growth, the roles of modernization, public policy, economy, and social issues are key. Comparing the U.S. with both the Ottoman Empire and the Qing Dynasty may shed some light on the path America is currently walking.

Failed Modernizations and Pushbacks

Like the U.S., the Qing Dynasty and Ottoman Empire tried to modernize, however, they faced major pushbacks from the elites. This resistance led to decades-long efforts ending in failure.

Decades of US Reforms and Progress

The U.S., like its predecessors, plunged into a series of attempts at revolutionizing its existing schemes in the 1980s. These efforts were fueled by an oil-led stagflation in the 1970s that shares eerie similarities with the Qing famine of the 1810s.

Marijuana Era

The 1960s marked the start of marijuana era, an epoch that we're currently living through its third generation with Fentonyl crisis.

Learning from Japan in Quality and Management

The historical learning phase from Japan, which Peter Drucker projected in 1971, taught the world about the virtues of quality, employment security, and decision-making by consensus. That had some success in business area where the semiconductor industry, initially stricken in 1985, bounced back in 1992, displaying intense resilience. But it's long term trade deficit ever since has not recovered.

Public Spirit and the Call for Reforms

One crucial lesson points towards public-spiritedness. No empire declines without attempting to reform. The U.S. stagnated in the areas of public health, gun laws, education, and infrastructure since the 1960s. However, Reagan's budget balancing and the War on Drugs in the 1970s signaled attempts at reform.

The US Economy: Below Balance

Despite the resurgence of the US through the popularity of tech giants like Apple, Google, Airbnb, Uber, and Facebook from 2006 to 2020, the economy remains in deficit. This is reminiscent of the Qing Dynasty's drastic decline of silver from 1815, the equivalent of the US account deficit from 1980.

China and Its Decline

The Qing faced the Taipei rebellion from 1850-1871. The U.S has been witnessing its own form of protests since 2000 with movements like Black Lives Matter, environmentalism, feminism, proud boys, Capital Hill takeover. But, just how far will the social unrest go, and how will foreign intervention play out?

US, Ottoman, and Qing: Parallels and Differences

While there are elements of both the Ottoman and Qing Dynasty in the U.S., its adaptation to rising debt, and social deterioration are strikingly similar. However, U.S. remains unmatched in terms of technology and military.


The Ottoman Empire's economic failings provide a harrowing historical example of the consequences of out-of-control foreign debt. In the 1870s, the Ottoman Empire's trade deficit became avowedly significant, a predicament that was spawned in the 1800s but was relatively modest until then. To fund the Crimean war, the empire resorted to foreign borrowing in 1854 for the first time, allotting it to military expenditure rather than strategic investment. Just two decades later, in 1875, half of the government's revenue was expended on interest payment, highlighting the rapid escalation of the Empire's financial turmoil.

In comparison, the United States started to grapple with a significant trade deficit in 2000. With a government revenue of $4 trillion, interest payment hovers between $400 billion and $800 billion. Given these numbers, the U.S has potentially a decade more if these trends persist.

As of 2023, the US foreign debt amounted to about $7 trillion, up from $5 trillion in 2017, and $3 trillion in 2009. However, the U.S, unlike the Ottoman Empire, still has borrowing capacity. It is nonetheless a cautionary tale for the U.S as it maneuvers its own journey of foreign debts and trade deficits in the 21st century especially US is much large part of the global economy today than Ottoman, which means there're not that many countries with lending capacity, topped by Japan lends $1,1 trillion, 15% ; China $0.9 trillion at 12%.

The Crimean War and US War Against Afghanistan

The Crimean war of 1854 saw Russia and the Ottoman Empire financially crippled. The US's closest equivalent is perhaps the war against Afghanistan, another money-consuming venture.

The Long-term Decline

U.S. foreign private debt seems to be the measure of its long-term decline but not a marker of immediate collapse. However, the decline in US bonds held by China over the last seven years could give room for concern.

Losing Allies: A Sign of Decline

The flipping of Saudi/UAE to China in 2020 could mark the symbolic beginning of the U.S's decline. Similar to how Qing started to lose Vietnam and South Korea to France and Japan in the 1880s. Only time will tell how this all will play out in the future for the North American influence espeically Canada and Mexico.