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Pax Romana, Pax España, Pax Britannica and Pax Americana


What do these remarkable dominions have in common? For one thing, the first three occurred at their relatively unchallenged imperial zenith after which they went into decline at various rates of descent. There are increasing signals, many not recent, that the US, without intervention, is following a similar trajectory.

In a January 2000 private distribution on D'Souza's The Virtue of Prosperity: Finding Values in an Age of Techno-Affluence, I noted:

Yes, Planet America for a while longer but do not be overly smug. The US is tracking significant bits of what claimed imperial Spain - an ever-expanding world policeman whose force projection underpinning the Pax Espana could not be supported by a plateauing, and ultimately declining, economic base. Strong force projection demands an equally strong or stronger economic engine. (I accept the school of thought that says that they should match, else you run the risk of becoming a Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, a economic morsel that can't resist being gobbled up.)

A month later, responding to a distribution of William Satletan's summary of the Kosovo war that was a "pro" document:

If [the sender agreed with Saletan's article], then my comments will perhaps jolt…

We have become the 16th century Spain of our day, a single unrivaled superpower whose simultaneous combination of technological, military, and financial power is of concern to friend and foe alike. Spain also chose a posture of force projection, a world policeman if you will in attempting to extend its Pax Espana, that ultimately bankrupted the nation that could no longer afford to pay for it.

What did we get from this affair? A lamentable example of a distracted administration sliding into yet another world event without thinking of the secondary impacts of its decisions, moving from one incremental tactical event to another without a view to a coherent strategic vision. A reawakened Russia whose warring political factions could only unite around one thing, resistance to the US, in which every fear of an expanded NATO on the border of the Russian Republic was seen by them to come true. A China whose leadership - even before the bombing of the Chinese embassy - believed that the US entered into Kosovo in order to test its latest weaponry systems, a rerun of 1930s Spain and the Condor Legions, and has gone on a buying spree of the latest Soviet weapon systems that tops that which occurred after the US sent a carrier battle group through the Taiwan Straights. A Russia and China appalled that the US had initiated a new justification for international force projection - humanitarian justification for intervention into a non-belligerent sovereign nation - that could just as easily be applied to, say, Chetnya or Tibet. An extremely sensitive depleting of US smart weapons stocks in the face of the extending Kosovo action that would have left us open to, say, a DPRK incursion southward into Korea, now that the US no longer has the forces, logistics, and stocks on hand to fight what is called a two-front war. A NATO political leadership almost broken by the affair. And this is just the first order effects.

No, I did not, and do not, feel that this [Kosovo] action was justified even in the face of the suffering abundantly on offer, and that we shall pay an exceeding high price for its ramifications in the years to come.

Part 2

Believing (and Believing and Believing) in Bullion
New York Times
June 5, 2005

Why ‘The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers’ was wrong
Review of International Studies (2001), 27, 579

Philip III and the Pax Hispanica 15981621: The Failure of Grand Strategy
by Paul Allen
Yale University Press, 2000

The Virtue of Prosperity: Finding Values in an Age of Techno-Affluence
by Dinesh D'Souza
The Free Press
January 2000
Cache of the introduction and first chapter

From War-related deflections of economic trends in Eastern and Western Civilizations
Krus, D.J., Nelsen, E.A. & Webb, J.M.
Psychological Reports, 84, 1021-1024, 1999

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000
Paul Kennedy
Random House, 1987

Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Strategic Risk Public  


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