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Pax Americana, truth or fiction?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Farm Boy, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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    Thank god you stopped yourself before you were wrong about something.
     
  2. Patroklos

    Patroklos Deity

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    That economic dependance was fostered and continues to prosper due the stability guaranteed by US and allied arms in large part. However I'd say that economic dependance has become a peace keeper in its own right to a certain extent, but it isn't the ony game in town and while it may help it will never ensure peace all by itself.
     
  3. Goodfella

    Goodfella Showing results for

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    True, especially for things like international shipping lines. But I doubt that the US deserves so much credit for this as is given by the term "Pax Americana." The European Union (though an American ally), democratic peace theory, and economic development seem to be significant factors as well, so much to the extent that "Pax Americana" gives more credit to the US than it's due. Though not to deny the US's significant role in all these things, I don't think it's entirely the cause of a "preponderance of power enjoyed by the US" but more of a lot of factors, the US's power being one of them. It occasionally fosters the others and itself is fostered by them as well. For instance, US economic power was fostered by industrialization (obviously), etc. Basically, my argument is that it can't be attributed to one thing, such as Pax Americana.
     
  4. Kaitzilla

    Kaitzilla Lord Croissant

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    I'd say it exists.

    By all rights other militaries should spend money like crazy to come at least a little closer to parity to the US, but it never happens. If we can just spread TV, porn, and the internet just a little farther, then everyone will be too glazed over from 10 hours of fun everyday to try to start WWIII.


    Also, as long as we keep supporting Japan and they don't feel like they have to build up a military or nukes, the world should be ok until the financial system implodes.
    And try not to anger the Germans.
     
  5. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    I don't have much to say about the notion of the pax Americana other than that some of the largest wars in history occurred during it; they just got less publicity because they didn't happen to white people. It hasn't been particularly peaceful.
    :lol:
    I dunno about the rest of this stuff, but democratic peace theory is a load of horsedung.
     
  6. Goodfella

    Goodfella Showing results for

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    I'll just go with the don't argue with Dachs rule.

    Edit: nevermind. I want to hear why you think it's horsedung.
     
  7. Gucumatz

    Gucumatz JS, secretly Rod Serling

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    What about the Capitalist Peace Theory? ;)

    But again how many wars have there been between Democracies? And by war, I mean with casualties greater than say 500 [Skirmishes don't really count and even then there have been very few declared skirmishes between Democratic Countries. When they happen it tends to result in something like a Finland vs Allies situation]

    People can disagree why or the factors behind it, but there is a correlation at the very least. Democracies don't tend to war democracies as often
     
  8. Patroklos

    Patroklos Deity

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    Like? And don't forget to scale appropriately.
     
  9. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Define 'democracy'.

    In 1914, four countries with strong parliamentary representative institutions and extremely widespread popular support went to war with each other. France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Austria-Hungary all had flaws in their democratic institutions in different ways, but so do all democracies, everywhere, ever. And yet all four of those countries marched willingly to war and initiated one of the greatest slaughters in the history of mankind.

    Arguing that any one of those states was 'not a democracy' is tendentious. Only France was a republic, and none of them had as widespread a franchise as many modern democracies do, but all possessed representative institutions with a great deal of legitimacy and popular participation. Of the states concerned, Germany and France had the widest franchises; Austria-Hungary - at least, Cisleithania - arguably had the most 'progressive' approach to nationality and ethnic rights; the United Kingdom had the weakest 'monarchy' (with the French President filling in for a king or emperor).

    In all of these states, except, to an extent, the United Kingdom, democratic institutions took a back seat during the war itself. Military decisionmaking was institutionalized and independent of the government changes that took place in all of the belligerents. France declared a draconian state of, effectively, martial law, especially in the so-called Zone of the Armies; Germany instituted the Prussian Law of Siege. Yet in many respects, these were powers willingly ceded by the instruments of popular opinion in those countries. The democracies went to war, and then they approved of - even aided and abetted the rise of - authoritarianism during the war. Was the so-called "silent dictatorship" - which was not an actual dictatorship by any stretch - really any worse than, say, Wilson's crackdown on American domestic dissent from 1917 to 1919?

    It seems to me that efforts to define a democratic peace rely largely, then, on defining the term 'democracy' in such a way as to destroy any sort of meaning to it. Germany and Austria-Hungary supposedly weren't democracies because reasons. Russia supposedly wasn't a democracy in 2008 because lolololol putin is the tsar. Rome and Qarthadast both had democratic institutions but that doesn't matter because forget about classical history. Actually, forget about half the wars Rome or Athens or any other of those ancient Mediterranean city-states fought.

    And if the understanding of "democracy" is so narrowly understood, then the predictive and explanatory power of the democratic peace is destroyed.
     
  10. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    "Scale"? What on Earth is that supposed to mean?

    The Second Congo War (1997/98-2003???) involved the deaths of over five million people as a direct consequence, the participation of half of Africa, and the destabilization of the entire central region of the continent. It was the largest war on the planet in terms of deaths since the Second World War and arguably is still not really over; it created a refugee and malnourishment crisis that African countries are still dealing with today. American arms never changed the course of the conflict and American mediation never resolved the situation.

    This is not to say that the United States should have worked to end the war. I'm not apportioning blame. I'm simply saying that this is a reason that the United States cannot really be said to have created much of a "peace" in the world, unless "peace" is defined by "peace for non-black people". It's much like saying "well, the United States hasn't put a man on Europa"; it's not insulting or blaming - how would the US have done something that difficult? - unless you're a crazy loon that thinks that NASA really did do a manned mission to Europa already.

    We're in good company here. None of these paces that people talk about were really Things. Rome's pax included several vicious civil wars and near-constant conflict on its European borders. The Mongol Empire's pax was only in a chunk of Central Asia for a space of a few decades if you ignore, again, internecine conflict, and the Mongols spent enough time fighting on their empires' peripheries that talking about an internal pax is silly. And the pax Britannica saw the second-bloodiest war in human history in China, a war that the British actively prolonged (until they finally decided that it was stupid and worked to end it).
     
  11. Gucumatz

    Gucumatz JS, secretly Rod Serling

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    Ok so if we take the "First World War" theoretically as a case of Democratic warfare (although as you have said yourself, many would disagree with you. I don't think its Pedantic to point out the nature of Willhelm the II and the Tsar and the German/Russian roots of the conflict), that still doesn't put a case against Democratic Peace. 1 theoretical highly disputable case does not throw out theory

    The international dyads are numerous enough to say that at the very least a correlation exists. The redefinition of "Pax" seems to be your issue [Pax Mongolica ie]. Scale wise we have less international dyadic warfare than ever before. You can argue the civil interwarfare, but even there numbers have severely decreased
     
  12. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    The roots of the conflict were actually a Russian effort to destroy the Ottoman Empire with the tacit approval of Great Britain and France and a concomitant effort by Austria-Hungary and to a lesser extent Germany to try to change the rules of an international game that they had been unquestionably losing for a generation.

    None of that matters. Every country that entered the First World War with the partial exceptions of Greece, Belgium, and the Ottoman Empire did so by choice. None were dragged into it. Therefore, the fact that each of these governments entered the war with full approval from, in the case of those with democratic institutions, the populace and the legislature, makes it hard for me to understand any attempt to paper over this. Of the major belligerents, only the United States and Italy had to deal with serious dissent over the decision to enter the war, and in the United States' case that dissent was confined to the general population, and was not in evidence in Congress.

    The war did not happen because it was created by imperial fiat in Berlin or St. Petersburg or anywhere else. If anything, the authoritarian elements of the Russian and German governments acted as a brake on war: the tsar frequently vacillated over military decisions, but ultimately this didn't end up mattering much because the Russian foreign ministry and general staff did things more or less independent of the Emperor and Autocrat, while the kaiser attempted to use his familial ties to mediate with both Russia and Britain during the July Crisis. The role of the democratic institutions in those countries was quite different. The Reichstag, the Chamber of Deputies, the Commons, and the Reichsrat all happily voted war credits and gave wide latitude to their governments to do whatever they needed wanted to in pursuit of victory in the looming war. Unions and labor organizations by and large remained quiet or vocally supported the war effort, at least initially. International Socialism stopped being international.

    Dismissing one of the largest conflicts in human history, and one of the only ones in which several large and powerful democratic states have even been in a position to fight each other, as an aberration is remarkable to me. If there were ever a defining case study for the democratic peace, it would be the First World War. When else, other than the modern day, can it be said that most of the world's Great Powers possessed democratic institutions with an extremely large impact on state policy? In the Second World War, the democracies were relatively few and far between. For much of the nineteenth century, democracies did not really exist - although two of the most democratic states of the time, the United States and the United Kingdom, were quite happy to fight each other in 1812 and came close to war in 1839, the 1880s, and the 1890s, each time avoiding fighting for reasons other than their democratic institutions.

    But in 1914, every one of the Great Powers save Russia had more or less democratic governments accountable in different ways to the people of each state. Even borderline Great Powers like Japan, Italy, and the Ottoman Empire had democratic institutions of differing stripes. And those democratic governments turned on each other and started one of the greatest bloodlettings in the history of mankind. If that is not a nail in the coffin of the democratic peace, I do not know what is.

    It may very well be that the incidence of conflict, dyadic or otherwise, has decreased in the modern day. I don't pretend to know or care about that. But I do know that if that is true, it is not because of the prevalence of democracy, but for other reasons.
     
  13. Gucumatz

    Gucumatz JS, secretly Rod Serling

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    It doesn't matter in my opinion the scale of the conflict in this case, if it is the only possible (and highly debatable, although I probably don't have the historical knowledge to do so) conflict that can be cited against they theory. So the question we seem to be going on here then is on the role of institutions behind it. The fact that we haven't had really (m)any conflicts between democratic states largely because few have been in the position to because of the institutions and the democratic corollaries behind them is more remarkable than trying to stretch at definitions to come up with a case study

    But taking the cases of labor and the silencing of dissent we have cases of democratic institutions being weakened prior to war being able exist. You can't dismiss Democratic Peace theory on monadic ideas - There has to be a general weakening of institution or a set of forces that weakens a multitude of factors before war can happen between Democratic states. And while there have been less cases of democracies in history, we have had enough to build up statistical evidence that there is a correlation. Certainly there have been official wars between democracies, but statistically its miniscule compared to other autocratic dyads and other systems of governance
     
  14. ace99

    ace99 Deity

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    It's like the polio vaccine peace theory. There have been relatively few wars since polio vaccine use became widespread.
     
  15. Joecoolyo

    Joecoolyo 99% Lightspeed

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    I guess the question, as before, is how those conflicts that occurred during the "Pax" compared relatively to the conflicts before the "Pax". They may have been incredibly bloody by themselves, but might not compare to a period in which there were more numerous conflicts with slightly less bloodshed.

    But, considering the ambiguity of our definitions concerning the Pax's, I'm not sure if that question is immediately answerable, if answerable at all.
     
  16. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

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    Things is, the reasoning behind geopolitics today is extremely different compared to WWI. Today, most states are deterred from going to war by economic factors, but such reasoning didn't exist prior to WWI or any other conflict early in the 20th century. Democracy may have played a role in bringing about this "economistic" vision of foreign relations, but such is by no means certain.

    I'd like to add to your point that Democracies are more likely to respect each other for being democracies if geopolitical reasoning is ideological, which today is partially the case, but in the light of current trends (the rise of China, the aftermath of US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan) may well be weakened. Otherwise, it's very well possible that democracies actually make war more likely. Israel's policies in West Bank are arguably due to (misguided) fears that dismantling those will mean a wave of terror, and thus are pretty much the result of popular demand. Likewise, most Arab countries would - at least initially - be more hostile to Israel the more democratic they became, not less. In fact, democracies in the Islamic world with free and fair elections, such as Turkey, have rather closed societies compared to the Liberal Democracies of the West and any relaxation of social attitudes (towards sex, for instance) may very well be greeted with hostility from the popular opinion in the Islamic world.

    Democracy may lead to policies and political paradigm shifts that make peace more likely, I agree. However, democracy itself is not a guarantee for peace, and that's perhaps the thing Dachs argues for.

    Statistics usually are only able to record correlations. And correlations are not the same as causations.
     
  17. ace99

    ace99 Deity

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    I see my polio vaccine peace theory hasn't caught on....we'll see about that.
     
  18. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

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    As you probably know - since you were a dutchfire - is that certain areas in the Netherlands know a significant amount of resistance towards polio vaccines. These areas known as the Bible belt, have however not met with significant conflict from mainstream Dutch(fire) society, despite occasional disapproval.
     
  19. civ_king

    civ_king Deus Caritas Est

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  20. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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    It does seem like "geopolitics" is a magical historical determinist buzz-word that means "whatever I want it to mean" considering it can not only perfectly describe the entire human experience but includes for consideration every possible factor, be it insane kings or democracies making sweet, sweet love on the UN floor.
     

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