Pax Americana (Latin: “American Peace”) is an appellation applied to the historical concept of relative liberal peace in the Western hemisphere and, later, the Western world, resulting from the preponderance of power enjoyed by the United States of America starting around the turn of the 20th century. Although the term finds its primary utility in the latter half of the 20th Century, it has been used in various places and eras, such as the post United States Civil War Era in North America and globally during the time between the Great World Wars.
Pax Americana is primarily used in its modern connotations concerning the peace established after the end of World War II in 1945. In this modern sense, the term has come to indicate the military and economic position of the United States in relation to other nations. The term derives from and is inspired by the Pax Romana of the Roman empire and the Pax Britannica of the British Empire.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington, and joining us again now from Toronto is Eric Margolis. He’s an accomplished international correspondent, been printed in many newspapers around the world, is author of the book American Raj, has a website at EricMargolis.com. Thanks for joining us again, Eric.
ERIC MARGOLIS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Paul.
JAY: So in the first segment of our interview we talked about the enormous size, almost $1 trillion, of the US military budget. And President Obama made it clear it’s untouchable. So why is it so untouchable to take on the military budget?
MARGOLIS: Well, it shouldn’t be untouchable. That’s a ridiculous point. The US is virtually bankrupt, and yet it continues to spend 50 percent of all military spending on the planet—totally unnecessary, but it is the sacred cow. And the reason is Americans are constantly bombarded with nationalist propaganda. There’s a new sense that the president has to be a war president. You know, I think practically every president back to Teddy Roosevelt has somehow been in a war. That America’s polls show Americans want their president—his first, most important quality is to be a commander-in-chief. Imagine a presidency without war. It’s hard to do. There’s the military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned us against 60 years ago, that is so powerful now that it and the role of the financial oligarchs on Wall Street have become the primary power behind governments. And the fact is that the military industrial complex has very cleverly put military plants in just about every state in the union. They have new aircraft like the F-22 is made all over the United States, so that it becomes very, very difficult, if not impossible, for congressmen and senators to vote for shutting down defense programs when it means loss of jobs in their own states.
JAY: Now, a lot of the spending’s on foreign military bases. Even if you set aside the debate about the Afghan War and the Iraq War, in which people can argue about—I mean people in Washington argue about whether necessary or not necessary. But the need for almost 1,000 foreign military bases, how much of that has to do with real geostrategic beliefs, and how much of that is about feeding this complex?
MARGOLIS: Well, there is very strong imperialist impulse in Washington that believes that we have to have full spectrum dominance, just like the imperialist party in imperial Britain before World War II, that we’ve got to in effect rule large parts of the world and keep the Pax Americana there. That’s still a very ingrained idea in Washington, even amongst many Democrats. We see it affecting President Obama. And to do this, the US maintains this huge, gargantuan, bloated defense budget aimed against an enemy that really is not apparent. But also it’s not just aircraft carriers and jet fighters that impose the Pax Americana; it’s cash. We pay off and bribe countries and leaders all around the world, we’re right now buying practically anything that moves in Pakistan, we pay billions to the Middle East, and so on. So it’s American money even more than military power imposes our will. But all of this money to sustain the Pentagon and to buy off all the foreign countries is now being borrowed from Japan and China, and that just cannot go on forever.
JAY: In the debate and fight over Afghanistan, President Obama probably had more support from the Republican Party than he did from the Democratic Party. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the Republicans being so gung ho in support of him, he might have had trouble selling this in Washington. What do you make of that? And how vulnerable is he to that? And what do you make of the Republican Party?
MARGOLIS: Well, Paul, the president is obviously intimidated by the military-industrial complex. He doesn’t stand up to the military. When General McChrystal in Afghanistan demanded 40,000 more troops, he said, or we face defeat, Obama should have fired him on the spot. It was the most errant act of insubordination I’ve seen since General MacArthur—who was fired by President Truman—demanded use of nuclear weapons in Korea. But his advisers around him sense that this is a very important political issue, the continued military dominance of the world, continued fighting [of] these wars. It’s become the American way of life. And he, unfortunately, doesn’t have the power to curb this.
JAY: Well, in the next segment of our interview let’s talk about the Republican Party, who are putting enormous pressure—some say representing the military-industrial complex—not to say they don’t have their representatives in the Democratic Party, but certainly it’s one of the major cards—that if he, quote-unquote, “looks weak on defense”—and he seems rather concerned about how he looks to the Republican Party. So let’s talk about what is the state of the Republican Party in the next segment of our interview with Eric Margolis.