Collapse, like Ernest Hemingway once said about bankruptcy, happens slowly at first, then quickly. From the Saker and Dmitry Orlov at thesaker.is:
The word ‘catastrophe‘ has several meanings, but in its original meaning in Greek the word means a “sudden downturn” (in Greek katastrophē ‘overturning, sudden turn,’ from kata- ‘down’ + strophē ‘turning’). As for the word “superpower” it also has several possible definitions, but my preferred one is this one “Superpower is a term used to describe a state with a dominant position, which is characterized by its extensive ability to exert influence or project power on a global scale. This is done through the combined-means of economic, military, technological and cultural strength, as well as diplomatic and soft power influence. Traditionally, superpowers are preeminent among the great powers” this one, “an extremely powerful nation, especially one capable of influencing international events and the acts and policies of less powerful nations” or this one “an international governing body able to enforce its will upon the most powerful states“.
I have mentioned the very visible decline of the USA and its associated Empire in many of my articles already, so I won’t repeat it here other than to say that the “ability to exert influence and impose its will” is probably the best criteria to measure the magnitude of the fall of the USA since Trump came to power (the process was already started by Dubya and Obama, but it sure accelerated with The Donald). But I do want to use a metaphor to revisit the concept of catastrophe.
If you place an object in the middle of a table and then push it right to the edge, you will exert some amount of energy we can call “E1”. Then, if the edge of the table is smooth and you just push the object over the edge, you exercise a much smaller amount of energy we can call “E2”. And, in most cases (if the table is big enough), you will also find that E1 is much bigger than E2 yet E2, coming after E1 took place, triggered a much more dramatic event: instead of smoothly gliding over the table top, the object suddenly falls down and shatters. That sudden fall can also be called a “catastrophe”. This is also something which happens in history, take the example of the Soviet Union.