America's military and economic empire could collapse at any time, but predicting the precise day, week or month of its potential demise is unattainable, according to a former New York Times war correspondent who spoke with Raw Story.
"The when and how is very dangerous to predict because there's always some factor that blindsides you that you didn't expect," Pulitzer-winning journalist Chris Hedges said in an exclusive interview. "It doesn't look good. But exactly how it plays out and when it plays out, having covered disintegrating societies, it's impossible to tell."
He explained that he learned this lesson as events unfolded around him in the fall of 1989. Then, members of the opposition to the Soviet Empire told him that they predicted travel across the Berlin Wall separating East from West Germany would open within the year.
"Within a few hours, the wall didn't exist," he said.
Hedges was one of the 131 activists were arrested in an act of civil disobedience outside the White House yesterday, even as Obama was unveiling a new report citing progress in the Afghanistan war.
Speaking to Raw Story on Wednesday night, he said the signs of US collapse are plain to see and compared the country's course through Afghanistan to Soviet Russia's.
"We're losing [the war in Afghanistan] in the same way the Red Army lost it," he said. "It's exactly the same configuration where we sort of control the urban centers where 20 percent of the population lives. The rest of the country where 80 percent of the Afghans live is either in the hands of the Taliban or disputed."
"Foreigners will not walk the streets of Kabul because of kidnapping, and journalists regularly meet Taliban officials in Kabul because the whole apparatus is so porous and corrupt," he said.
One day after this interview was conducted, reports hit the global media noting the CIA's warning to President Obama, that the Pakistan-supported Taliban could still regain control of the country.
Hedges predicted that President Obama's war report released Thursday would "contradict not only [US] intelligence reports but everything else that is coming out of Afghanistan."
His prediction came startlingly true: the CIA's own assessment was said to stand in striking contrast with President Obama's report.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, however, insisted that the US controlled more territory in Afghanistan than it did a year ago.
'A corporate coup d'état in slow motion'
Hedges said he attended the protest and planned to get arrested because he is against the corporate powers that have enveloped the nation.
"We've undergone a corporate coup d'état in slow motion," he said. "Our public education system has been gutted. Our infrastructure is corroding and collapsing. Unless we begin to physically resist, they are going to solidify neo-feudalism in this country."
"If we think that Obama is bad, watch the next two years because these corporate forces have turned their back on him," Hedges warned.
Hedges, author of "Death of the Liberal Class," said that his vision of America is one with a functioning social democracy, which stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of the corporate state.
"American workers, as they are repeatedly told, will have to become competitive with prison labor in China," he said. "That's where we're headed, and all the pillars of the liberal establishment are complicit in this."
"At least if you get sick in the UK, you don't go bankrupt or die," he added.
Hedges said that another pressure point is the US dollar, which he pointed out had been dropped by Russia and China in favor of modified ruble/renminbi exchanges.
"A few more deals like that, and our currency becomes junk," he said.
Hedges continued, "As long as we have relative stability, these lunatic fringe movements can be held at bay, but if we don't undertake serious structural reform, which we're not doing, then it is inevitable that we will come to a tremendous crisis - economic and political as well as environmental."
This video, featuring portions of a speech given by Chris Hedges, was shot outside the White House on Dec. 16, 2010.
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Updated from an original version.
With editing by Stephen C. Webster.