It certainly looks like a domino that has been put in position poised to fall waiting for others to take their places in the line.
With America withdrawing from Afghanistan abruptly after some 20 years, one big question is being discussed throughout the strategic sphere by those both in big institutions and laying on their couches - is the American loss in Afghanistan the first domino to fall in the eventual collapse of the Global Hegemon? After all, Afghanistan is the "graveyard of empires" probably because it is an expression that sounds nice and because the Soviets fell apart a few years after losing to the locals. So this must be the "beginning of the end" right?
Well, we should never be so quick as to jump onto narrow narratives without looking at the big picture. Side-by-side images of the Americans and their allies fleeing Vietnam and Afghanistan by helicopter are flooding Facebook, posted by those in the Alternative Media who take great joy in any loss by the 21st century's "Evil Empire" but they seem to forget that just a few decades after losing in Vietnam the United States won the Cold War and took dominance over the planet.
Image: Strategic meme-of-the-year material for 2021.
No single event no matter how photogenic it is, is not going to be a sign of the grand demise of the "Sole Hyperpower". It really took from the beginning of WWI till the end of WWII for the British to truly fall apart as a geopolitical force. The Soviet Union fell much quicker, but it is very widely believed that Perestroika (or the The Reykjavik Summit) was the real first white flag that devolved into the breakup of the union years later. The Roman Empire was a vastly slower burn than either of these two modern behemoths.
This means we should not be debating if Afghanistan is the first "domino" to fall, but instead we should really take a look at what the rest of the dominos falling would look like. At this point we can surely put together a rough picture of what the next tiles to fall would look like, i.e. what other major failures/events would really be signs of the Monopolar World meeting its demise? The following are a few humble offerings as to what these dominos could be
Abandoning the Maidan Regime in the Ukraine
The unexpected surrender and soon to be total fall of Kabul has certainly resonated in another city that starts with the letter K. If Washington is finding it necessary to abandon a twenty-year Nation-Building project that they have invested vast sums of money and manpower into, that means that back-burner Kiev could be cut loose in the near future, putting the fate of the region in the hands of the Russians.
Image: We all know who secures Ukrainian "independence".
The Maidan has been a major roadblock for Russia. As Brzeziński wrote, "It cannot be stressed enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire" and Washington has done an absolutely fantastic job of turning the region into an "anti-Russia" as Putin recently called it.
If the Maidan project were to be abandoned, it would become another quite massive domino. Washington giving up on Kiev, resulting in that current political entity probably being divided up, mostly going to Moscow, would symbolize either the USA's inability to stop the rise of the Russians or their begrudging acceptance of it.
Taiwan, Hong Kong and/or South Korea
The Trump-era State Department Democracy storm that was inflicted on Hong Kong has seemed to fade away, but a total abandonment of the thorns in the side of the Chinese Dragon would also result in another domino being placed into position.
Image: Not State Department = No Professional Protest Organizers in China.
Bailing on Hong Kong activists or failing to maintain Taiwan's independence would certainly present a strong sign of weakness and inability from the standpoint of Washington. Furthermore, although China has never had a passionate love for the North Koreans, having South Korea as essentially an American beachhead right next door has been a cause of concern for decades for Beijing. The South Korean economy on paper looks amazing and their cities dazzle with progress but what would be the effects of Ameria giving up on them? Is South Korea able to stand as a great nation, or is it really only successful thanks to the American umbrella? The answer to that would reveal itself within two weeks of an America-free Korean Peninsula.
Simply put, if Washington gives up on Hong Kong, Taiwan and/or South Korea it is another sign of the end for sure as China would be more or less rid of these weak points that have been exploited against it for decades.
A Loss of Control Over the "Bigs"
Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Agro and so on, have dutifully served Washington's interests despite their theoretically international nature. But we should never forget that large for-profit entities are quite "whoreish" and will serve whichever master they need to. If Washington cannot control the Bigs as it used to, this would be another domino.
To a small extent this is happening in Hollywood where the Chinese market's (and its official and unofficial) demands are having a major impact. But if it comes to a point that Hollywood is only making a chunk of the world's blockbusters rather than nearly all of them it would be the end of the total unobstructed Soft Power dominance of this American institution. Or even worse, if Hollywood can be bought out from under America then a new global narrative could be spun quite quickly.
If the Hegemon fades, the leadership of the Bigs will feel increasing pressure from the Russians, Chinese and Arabs to give up the whole "gay thing" and portray these societies in a positive light whether through bribery or threats of force. Apple may be "designed in California" but if need be they would surely bail for greener pastures rather than living a life of poverty loyal to a failed America.
Mexico, Lakotastan and African-America
The United States has done a fantastic job of fostering independence movements within its rivals while making diverse masses "American" at home. However, as with the Soviets and the British, waves of breakaway republics and successful secessionist movements would be a very big domino indeed.
The Soviets tried to create an African workers uprising in America in the 60's and failed miserably, but BLM could get out of control, or in the case of a dying USA, could become used by foreign powers. An Afro-American Maidan would certainly be another sign of doom.
The rise of an independent Native-American state like the Lakota Indians' lands would be yet another tile being stood into place, opening the door for further break-away attempts.
When the Mexicans lost the Mexican-American war they lost the chance to become the dominant power on the continent. Few remember, but the destiny of this New World was not just given to the Americans wrapped in a box. If the Mexicans had won the war they would be the ones with access to the Atlantic (via the Gulf of Mexico) and the Pacific simultaneously, not Washington. It would have been very possible for them to secure the entire West Coast. A Mexico that would begin to take action as an independent actor would certainly be another sign of serious trouble for Washington. Thus far, on the North American continent "there can be only one" but perhaps that isn't necessarily going to always remain the same "one".
The death of the Dollar or collapse of the Federal Reserve
If the dollar were to collapse, or there were serious problems at the Federal Reserve, as have been predicted for many years due to insane national debt, this would of course be the biggest domino of all. The West has been able to accumulate bafflingly massive debt with no consequences because of the dominance of Washington. It is very hard to call in a debt from the toughest kid school surrounded by his henchmen. But when the big bully stops growing, and loses his buddies, all of a sudden getting your $5 back with a few whacks from a baseball bat becomes viable.
Image: If you are powerful enough no one can call in your debts.
No one can call in the debt of a Global Hegemon, but Regional Powers have to balance their checkbook. A decrease in power could lead to the national debt prophecy coming true in our lifetimes which would be probably the largest domino of all.
Is Afghanistan "the first domino to fall" in the death of the American Empire? This cannot be proven, but it certainly looks like a domino that has been put in position poised to fall waiting for others to take their places in the line. Other major defeats would be required to say for sure that this "New American Century" is over, not even making it to the one-fourth mark. It is really the other potential signs of the end that are of most concern not squabbling over Afghanistan's domino status. So the big question is, if Washington is losing its Monopolar World Order, then where will be the next grand retreats?