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The Myth of the Underdog

There is a saying, “There is a David to every Goliath” because, in every heroic story, David beats Goliath despite his strength and stature. But nobody pondered over the further unfolding of that story. Are David and Goliath really that different in what they oppose each other or are they just the different stages of the cycle of power? Does every underdog which takes birth to become the world champion retain the same beliefs and ideologies with which he entered the ring or eventually rules the ring with an iron fist?

The everlasting relationship between the mighty, his power and their forelong deed of abusing each other has been widely romanticised. But is it really power that corrupts the mighty or is it the corrupt who suborns his power? The world since its birth has always been riddled with a being or a nation leaping out to conquer it all and to claim it for good, but whose good?

All the great empires which came into being, drew a long path of blood in their awakening, something which history never remembered. The Greeks and the Romans, the British Empire, and today, the United States: all of them use their military might to maintain their position, so much so that the principles and fundamentals that these nations were built to protect are hardly remembered.

In the earlier days, it was way easier as the choices were clear, either submit or perish. However, in these modern times which we frequently pride humankind to have brought, it is much more complex, the choice which existed once does not anymore. In fact, the oppressed doesn’t even recognize that he is being oppressed. This is because civilization has perfected itself to a degree where the whole world is fed one idea and one dream and nobody is trained to think otherwise.

In Roman times, all the conquests were military and wherever the legions of Rome went, they killed, and the lands of the rebels were taken over by the empire. The British brought along a more civilized way of doing it in the name of colonization. They said that they were here to enlighten the downtrodden worlds of the unfortunate colonies and introduce them to the glories and advancement of modern sciences and technology, arts and cultures, whether they wanted it or not. The weak knew they were being oppressed but rebelling became more bureaucratic and lawful. And after all the historic mighty empires came to a fateful end, rose another so cunning that all the other nations in the world hoped to ape but nobody could, the US. Those who tried, trembled in its conquest to claim their land for its own cause.

The ways and methods, policies, and practices of conquest have changed throughout history but what has remained constant is the desire to not only attain power but to hold its military might. The stronger your armies, the mightier and richer you are.

And so we arrive at the question, what makes the United States so great, is it the liberty, is it the economy or is it their military? The US maintains not only the most powerful army in the world but an army large enough to take on the next 26 armies of the world combined and out of those 26 nations, 25 of them are its allies. According to a research survey by ‘The Infographics Show’, the US alone can not only effectively fight a war but plausibly win one against all the other nations of the world combined. And while no conclusive historic evidence and numerical statistics exist to analyze the might of the armed forces of the past, the records are evident enough to indicate how sheerly massive they were in their times. So we arrive at the conclusion that to rule the world you need to wield the world’s most powerful sword.

The necessary thing to understand about the power dynamics of the globe is not only the formation of powerful armed forces but what induces people to come together and rally for those few in power. Because every great nation is based upon a great idea, The Declaration of Independence of the United States, which brought upon equal freedom upon all its citizens.The conglomeration of all the cultures of the world in one nation, where everyone is judged by their intellect and abilities rather than their birth or color. The US’s fight against itself and the devils of its past in The Civil War and various of its Civil Rights movements and its triumph over them to emerge as the first true and full democracy bringing equal rights for each and every individual within its borders. And the final abolishment of slavery immortalized in the famous Gettysburg address by Abraham Lincoln, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

So why does a great nation, with so much power, which was born to do better turn out to be rather disastrous when weighed against its combined utility?
The Hiroshima Nagasaki, The Cold War and billions spent upon the Apollo missions to no avail, The Vietnam War, The Iraq War and so the list goes on and will continue. Its war against not only communism but against socialism and liberalism for the cause of cutthroat capitalism which it justifies. Hence, the once young underdog with its revolutionary promises of equal rights and opportunities ceased to exist when the idea of equality was stripped by a few powerful men to fill in their pockets. The transition of the US from waging wars against poverty to waging wars against the poor must be analyzed. Although not justifiable but explainable because every other empire before has gone on the same trajectory. As greatness is often misunderstood with power. But as far as power goes, it is held by stripping others of it. And the age-old method to be powerful and remain so is to wage wars against others be it for better or worse because if you don’t, you won’t be able to defend yourself if someone mightier were to rise. The concept of “eat or be eaten” is the only one by which power is governed. It is rightly said that “to withhold power one must first make the prospect of revolution seem hopeless.”

In contrast, there is something more fascinating and complex as mentioned before. It is said that one of the major reasons the Soviet Union only lost the cold war was because of the cultural influence of the States. It had reached the point where Russian children started drinking Coca-Cola and started wearing Lewi’s jeans. It portrayed an image of ‘cool’ that not only the rest of the western civilization but the whole world followed in its leap. Everybody started dancing to the snaps of Hollywood and started listening to American Rock.

And this is the crucial bedrock we often dismiss when we account for what makes an empire or a nation great, even in the most tyrannical of reins, there is always a shred of influence that decides the rise and fall of kings and their kingdoms. However, no matter who rules the world with an iron fist, it could not do so forever and perhaps that is what makes the prospect of global power dynamics so elegant. As so realized in the famous poem, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’

I met a traveller from an antique land, Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Waseem Abbas
Writing Mentorship 2021

The Dynamics of Global Dominance, European Overseas Empires 1415–1980
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