The Importance of Power Politics to Pax Americana

Conceptually, power politics has been an integral part of American diplomacy and power projection since World War II. The Korean War, Vietnam, the Cold War and even both Gulf Wars and Afghanistan are all attempts, some more successful than others, of the United States exerting a peace on the world.

woodrow-wilson-postage-stampPrior to World War II, the United States didn’t have the strength or the will to impose peace on our allies, let alone countries that wished to destabilize the political order. When the United States failed to join the League of Nations, even though President Woodrow Wilson promoted the plan so vigorously that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, the country abdicated a role in international security concerns. The primary sticking point was Article X of the League Charter that called for member nations to come to the aid of other members when under external aggression.

Whether the shape of the world would have been different if our Congress had ratified the treaty is a question for fiction writers. What actually happened was that the League could not stop the Germans and their allies from beginning World War II.

After that war, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the most powerful nations in the world. Nuclear proliferation added another layer to the two-super-power equation, and both countries used proxies to spread their influence around the globe.

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 appeared to signal an end to the overt threats of power that had marked the Cold War era, and many people assumed that with only one superpower left, the need for power politics had passed, or at least would assume a less important form. That, however, turned out not to be the case.

To maintain the Pax Americana, political and economic sanctions and threats took a more visible role than military threats, but the role of the military was to show that the United States could support and impose peace through the use of force. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, though, our military has been drastically reduced and the politicians have allowed the technological superiority that the U.S. military maintained to be diminished and, in some cases, overtaken by countries who want to see the end of American enforcement of our country’s idea of peace. The political will to use these diminished forces has also waned. This era of withdrawal has had a destabilizing effect on the world.

Russia is seeking to rebuild the Soviet Empire for a new century, China is building up a technological edge to compete economically on a global scale with the United States, and dozens of smaller nation-states have discovered that power politics can be defeated if a country has neither the power nor the will to use force to defeat an enemy.

The Long Peace, as Pax Americana was also called, rested on the military strength and political will of the United States. The strength has been leeched away by successive administrations who are willing to cut the security of our entire nation. The will has been bought off by those self-same cuts.

At the time when a stabilizing force is needed throughout the world, our country is too busy to see that, no matter how many mistakes we made, the United States did bring order to the world.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Matt Towns
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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
Matt Towns
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