Speaking of Babylon the Great... Revelation 16:19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell:....
Note that the great city is as literal as are the cities of the nations. Note that the implication here is that the great city (Babylon) is not any nation's city. Rather, it is here presented as the great city "of" the nations.
Revelation 17:...the waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
A whore is not a prostitute. A whore doesn't require payment but only personal pleasure. That she is sitting doesn't imply ownership but rather...authority. That she is sitting implies a casual assumption of authority.
When a person is said "To stand up" it is meant that they are putting into action a function of their authority and power in it's fulness. Compare, for example, when Daniel says...
Daniel 11:4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken...
Which refers to Alexander the Great. Note that WHEN he stands up is WHEN he is broken. Thus when we look at Alexander we note that he is considered to stand up, not when he first left Greece but, after achieving the fulness of his kingdom's power. Also note that "he shall stand up" denotes that it is his own perogative.
Thus the whore's sitting denotes a comfortable assumption of power. That is, she sits only after the fulness of the final world kingdom is obtained. When one remembers that she sits upon the beast, then one can note that, the "peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues" correspond to the beast, as a kingdom. (not as a person)
Revelation 18:3 ...all nations have drank of the wine of the wrath of her fornications, and the kings of the earth have committed fornications with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
All nations having drunk of her proves that the setting is a global one (as do all other indications). Drunk of wine means that all who drank are no longer completely in control of their reasoning powers. There is a great emotional impact. That emotion is "the wrath of her fornication." The fornication she is involved with causes her to be wrathful. Two main groups of men are involved intimately with her fornication and it's wrath. Kings and merchants. The kings are governmental authorities. Whereas, merchants are marketplace authorities and powers. These two groups reveal why they participate in her fornication. The see a greed to be fulfilled. The kings think to establish themselves as global authorities with global power. The merchants think to make gain by commerce. The implied understanding being that, she seduces them into giving her authority by means of greed/worldliness. Which is evident to all even now I would think.
Revelation 18:20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles, and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
Note that this rejoicing of the holy apostles and prophets over the whores destruction while the kings and merchants bemoan her end proves that the wrath of her fornication involved wrath against the saints that the apostles and prophets represent as authorities.
I don't think it requires great insight to conclude that... The great city is built on the premise of a global world order, which order is established by worldly lust for power and wealth. When one remembers how the beast man imposes, by way of the false prophet, a commerce system that is based on a MARK (market) that entails idolatrous worship of a image of the beast man. Thus when one considers her fornication to be idolatry and that it causes her to have great wrath against the saints, then the conclusion is that she has set up a global system whereby all crafts can prosper at the expense of persecuting the saints of God. For her reasoning is that all her fornications (idolatries) are acceptable but not the purity of the faith of the saints. Again, this trend is even now advancing.
Islam is being thrust into the face of the American populace for this reason. By means of the capital "T" terrorism, a global enemy is asserted that no national war can overcome. Thus a global entity must be created to deal with it. The islamic terror is highlighted so as to establish a need for a peaceful one world religion acceptable to all peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues. The result will be the predictable non-compliance of non worldly Christians. When the Christian faith is inserted between a global crisis, and the utopian solution to be offered, then it is easily seen that the saints of God will become the scapegoats of all failures to provide the utopian dream. Thus they will succumb to the tactic of global persecution.