Vital Signs

Tipping Points and Imperial Meltdown

Tipping points have occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia that signal the beginning of a meltdown of the American Empire.

In war, a “tipping point” may be defined as an event so dramatic, often so unexpected, that it has a psychological impact on the momentum of the war itself.  It adversely affects the morale of the troops, the political leadership, and the civilians of one of the belligerents.  And it frequently portends ultimate defeat.

In the waging of three major wars over the last half of the 20th century, the U.S. government experienced the psychological impact of a “tipping point.”  In World War II, it was the Battle of Midway (June 4-7, 1942).  It occurred six months after Pearl Harbor and took the Japanese by surprise, destroying a significant portion of their fleet, including four of their navy’s ten aircraft carriers, the principal weapons of naval warfare.  It stopped further Japanese expansion in the Pacific and shifted the war’s psychological momentum in America’s favor.

In the Korean War, U.N. forces had been driven to Pusan in the southeast tip of Korea and faced defeat.  Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s dramatic arrival at Incheon on September 15, 1950, was a tipping point.  By unexpectedly landing U.N. military forces behind enemy lines, Mac-Arthur threatened communist communication and supply lines, forcing North...

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