Pax Americana

By Deane Barker

“Pax” is Latin for “peace.” It’s been used as a prefix for a lot of things:

  • Pax Americana (“American Peace”)
  • Pax Romana (“Roman Peace”)
  • Pax Brittanica (“British Peace”)

Pax Americana generally refers to peace among the developed nations of the Western Hemisphere – North America and Europe. The idea is that “friends of America” are also friends of each other. This period has (supposedly) lasted since the end of World War II.

The idea can be controversial. From Political Dictionary:

The concept of Pax Americana has its critics, of course. The concept has also been likened to the glorification of US imperialism. At its heart, Pax Americana relies on the idea that US hegemony is behind the long, peaceful period among North American and European states since 1945.

Searching for “the end of pax americana” reveals lots of opinions about whether it still exists or if it ever did.

Why I Looked It Up

I’m watching a BBC documentary on the breakup of Yugoslavia. The final episode is called “Pax Americana” and it discussed the Dayton Peace Accords, where all the former Yugoslav leaders were brought to Dayton, Ohio to negotiate a treaty.

Postscript

Added on

There’s a popular trilogy of the history of the British Empire called Pax Britannica: Climax of an Empire.

Postscript

Added on

Paul Krugman wrote a column for the NY Times titled The Strange Decline of the Pax Americana

…we may be witnessing the end of the Pax Americana, the long era in which U.S. economic and military dominance limited the potential for wars of conquest.

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