History has shown us that empires crumble when their thirst for power overtakes all other sensibilities. According to United States Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, America could stand on the precipice of such destruction. His insights form the foundation of the short documentary The Empire's Ship is Sinking, and it's a rarely-heard point of view from inside the heart of the beast.
Wilkerson knows of which he speaks. He flew over a thousand combat missions during the war in Vietnam. He later served as the National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan, and as Chief of Staff to General Colin Powell during the administration of President George W. Bush. He possesses intimate knowledge of the inner workings of war, and has witnessed first-hand how the propulsion of endless conflict continues to line the pockets of the very wealthy and decimate the existence of the lower classes worldwide.
Many key tenants of modern-day warfare are covered in the brief, yet wide-ranging interview that structures the film. From the more than 800 bases the United States military operates across the globe to the increased proliferation of weapons manufacturing, conflict means big business for the American elite. There seems to be no profitability in peace. The wealth created by these global skirmishes does not promote a more productive capitalistic society, because none of it falls downward in support of the lower classes. In some cases, as Colonel Wilkerson points out, foreign policy is based more on business considerations than humanitarian ones.
The issue is so complex and far-reaching that pinning the blame on a single culprit becomes muddied and elusive. In a way, we are all complicit. According to some reports, over 70% of retired military generals are recruited by the nation’s top weapons manufacturers as spokespeople and advisors. It falls on them to convincingly sell the need for continued conflict to the American people. In large part, the citizenry accepts these arguments without question or protest.
Wilkerson contends that such a path is unsustainable, and will surely spell doom for America's reputation, economic vitality and moral dominance in the world. The Empire's Ship is Sinking forces us to consider the corporate complex that drives America’s violent incursions across the globe.