The modern Pax Americana era is cited by both supporters and critics of the United States foreign policy after the Second World War. Many commentators and critics focus on American policies from 1992 to the present, and as such, it carries different connotations depending on the context. For example, it appears repeatedly in a September 2000 document, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, by the Project for the New American Century, but is also used by critics to characterize American dominance and hyperpower as imperialist in function and basis…
The modern Pax Americana may be seen as similar to the period of peace in Rome, Pax Romana. In both situations, the period of peace was ‘relative peace’. During both Pax Romana and Pax Americana wars continued to occur, but it was still a prosperous time for both Western and Roman civilizations. It is important to note that during these periods, and most other times of relative tranquility, the peace that is referred to does not mean complete peace. Rather, it simply means that the civilization prospered in their military, agriculture, trade, and manufacturing.
Farewell to all that?
Financially, the U.S. has been responsible for managing the global economy by acting as the market and lender of last resort. But as President Obama acknowledged at the London G-20 meeting in April, the U.S. is no longer able to play this role, and the world increasingly is looking to China (and India and other emerging market states) to be the locomotives of global recovery. Going forward, the fiscal crisis will mean that Washington cannot discharge its military functions as a hegemon either, because it can no longer maintain the power edge that has allowed it to keep the ambitions of the emerging great powers in check. The entire fabric of world order that the United States established after 1945 — the Pax Americana — rested on the foundation of U.S. military and economic preponderance. Remove the foundation and the structure crumbles. The decline of American power means the end of U.S. dominance in world politics and the beginning of the transition to a new constellation of world powers…
The coming era of de-globalization will be defined by rising nationalism and mercantilism, geopolitical instability and great power competition. In other words, having enjoyed a long holiday from history under the Pax Americana, international politics will be headed back to the future.
CDR Salamander wonders whether that was always the point. Interesting times.