Empire is the modus operandi of post-Neolithic human civilization. I defend none of them since our species needs to move beyond it to survive. Since none of the above is not on the menu of the Geopolitics Restaurant, I view the planetary American empire as an improvement over its predecessors (I've written about this elsewhere: https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/dont-look-up-look-back-why-study-history-part-two-2229b27aa0a0). At least it developed a voluntary network of alliances (protection racket) and decoupled trade and market access from the exercise of direct sovereignty over territory (the Dutch had done this in Nagasaki and elsewhere, but were too small to defend it).
As a resource-cursed kleptocratic empire on the periphery of the global capitalist system, Russia is a disruptive land-based throwback colonial empire that can't survive in a free trading democratic world that allows newly independent nations on its borders to prosper within the American and EU alliance network model of shared sovereignty. Putin and his gang and Xi Jin Ping know this and have said so quite directly with a gangster's blunt honesty how they long for a return to the old world of regional hegemony. But the USA, protected by two oceans, an enforceable Monroe Doctrine, energy independence, the world's best intracontinental river system and friendly neighbors, is in business to prevent the emergence of any other regional hegemon--with the support of all the secondary powers that encircle and fear its Chinese and Russian rivals' ambitions to return to that older geopolitical model. A distant unthreatening maritime hegemon with the world's largest consumer market will always be more popular than any aspiring dominant regional land-based continental
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