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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12682/the-siren-song-of-pax-americana/

The Siren Song of Pax Americana

May 11, 2010 by

If the goal of universal peace under American domination is unrealizable, the attempt to achieve it has imposed heavy costs. The wars have caused death, destruction, and resentment against the United States by the people subjected to our assault. FULL ARTICLE by David Gordon

{ 7 comments }

geoih May 11, 2010 at 9:48 pm

I live in hope (and dread) that the socialists will realize they can fund their statist desires by simply ending the empire, bringing the troops home, and emptying the Pentagon. But statists are too predictable and grasping to let such a prize go willingly.

Bill Ballou May 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm

On first reading I am inclined to agree with Gordon’s review and implicitly with Preble. I will have to read Preble’s book in order to judge whether or not he considered total context within which American foreign policy exists. For example, I agree that nations within the sphere of influence of potential trouble makers ought to shoulder more of the containment responsibility than ought the United States. However, one must evaluate the abilities, the intents and the rationality of each player that is an element of potential problems. I agree that attempts to build utopia are bound to fail, if only for lacking sufficient knowledge of context. This thought returns me to my question of the context of foreign policy. Perhaps this question will clarify my hesitation to assert strong support for Preble’s thesis: Can we ever know enough to allow us as a nation to shoulder the responsibility of policing the world? Clearly, the answer is we cannot. Yet, confronted by irrationality, one is moved toward support of preemptive intervention, a policy from which one normally cringes. Again, the specter of unknown context rises to make one ever more cautious. If Preble concludes, perhaps following T. Roosevelt, that our foreign policy should depend on the ability to execute overpowering retaliation while gradually withdrawing our physical presence from the rest of the world, one is inclined to agree. One anticipates that such a policy would not become a detriment to world trade nor to world civility.

Sebaneau May 14, 2010 at 6:07 am

The title of this article is misleading, as it purports to deal with “Pax americana” while concentrating on a couple of countries where eveyone knows the rule of law is least likely to prevail.
That is cherry-picking, and no one with any understanding of science will fall for it.

It is one thing to criticize a particular intervention of a particular kind in a particular country, quite another to oppose “interventionism” as such.
For there is no such thing as “interventionism”. No one advocates intervention for intervention’s sake, because that would be patently absurd: to believe that the advisability of foreign policy could be directly derived a priori, from any set of principles, is a categorical error.

That is precisely why “isolationism” as a principle is absurd: it is as absurd as intervention for intervention’s sake would be, and for the same reason. And that is also why “isolationists” are not taken seriously in international politics.
If they have remained so, it must mean that they have missed countless occasions to acknowledge that their position cannot be defended on principle ; and since that very position gives them a permanent excuse to ignore the facts which run counter to it, they are, as such, bound to remain permanently incompetent.

mpolzkill May 14, 2010 at 8:46 am

Right, a couple of countries created and destroyed by your “experts”. I’m sure space or time was limited, maybe Gordon could do North Korea next, yet another triumph.

No one *sells* “interventionism” for “interventionism’s” sake.

Only economic ignoramuses like Pat Buchanan preach “isolationism”; war-mongers stick the title on us.

Teachers’ unions don’t take parents seriously.

I didn’t get a satisfactory answer to my question to you earlier: after 100 years of practice, what is the reason the U.S. government is still so incompetent in foreign relations? I understand that you Europeans have a lot more experience; would you say that’s the main reason people like Joseph Stalin get this steroid addled teenager of a military machine to do their bidding so often?

Please give examples of the expertise of your savvy Western realists. Would that be like when Churchill betrayed and handed thousands of Russian dissidents to Stalin to be murdered? Stuff like that?

Guard May 18, 2010 at 4:13 am

Uh…what?

ganpalou May 23, 2010 at 10:18 am

My basic assumptions are derived from being draft eligible in 1962. I was terrified that I was destined to follow about six generations of my Alsatian paternal line, to shoot at and be shot at by Germans (throw in some Ukrainians, Bulgarians etc.) under the leadership of JFK. I was impressed with LBJs support of Civil Rights, but not impressed with MacNamara’s war in Viet Nam. When LBJ declared that “the Nam” was a war of attrition, I concluded that the attrition was of my young dissident friends who failed to have feelings of paternal affection for LBJs domestic policy. As silly as my assumptions are, they are not sillier than the assumption of the author that the responsibility of government is to protect its citizens. The only responsibility of government is to collect taxes. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness facilitate tax collection.
If we throw out silly basic assumptions, we are left with observations and questions. I have two observations. They are: 1. You cannot win a war by killing one infantryman at a time. 2. The 180 member nations of the UN are quite content to allow the Pax Americana to continue, each for its own reasons, none of which is to benefit the US. They could simply say: “Thanks, but no thanks, we are cutting mutually beneficial deals. You can go home now.”
I reach two conclusions with my observations: 1. The war against terrorism is unwinnable, like Viet Nam and the “war on drugs.” 2. On a vote of 180 to one, world leaders believe the Pax Americana is in their best interest, not in the best interest of the US or its people. It is hard to argue against those odds.

PDH5204 May 27, 2010 at 8:39 am

“The war against terrorism is unwinnable, like Viet Nam…”

What made Viet Nam unwinnable? The fact that we decided to not invade the North? That was the one Admiral’s point, yes? That the only reason to go to war is to remove the other side’s regime and install a regime acceptable to you? And so if that isn’t the plan, then why go to war?

“If Preble concludes, perhaps following T. Roosevelt, that our foreign policy should depend on the ability to execute overpowering retaliation while gradually withdrawing our physical presence from the rest of the world, one is inclined to agree.”

Teddy lived in a different world. One of the reasons why we have troops in various and sundry places around the world is because if we didn’t, the cost (in human lives) to get them there later in time of trouble would be prohibitive, assuming we could even accomplish the task. One thing to conduct an amphibious landing against Somali warloads, but try that against some more credible regime. And so, to borrow the phrase, we’re around the globe securing the LZ. And don’t for a moment overestimate “retaliation”. Going back to Viet Nam, we more or less leveled the North (turned the place into rubble, if you prefer). Was that the “retaliation” you had in mind? If so, didn’t stop them from continuing to conduct the war.

“maybe Gordon could do North Korea next, yet another triumph.”

It was triumph if you consider the state of the Republic of Korea today. If you’d like to finish the job, stop shopping at WalMart. That way, the Chinese won’t have the same ability to conduct operations and that will be a good thing, given that we’d have to fight against 1 in every 5 humans on the planet should we find ourselves at war with China again. And, no, they are not unbeatable, as any student of WWII knows, since as overextended and as dim-witted in certain respects as they were, the Japanese still very nearly won their war in China.

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