Pax Americana delusion crumbles as American Empire is heading to a hopeless end
Published: Oct 23, 2023 06:50 PM
Illustration: Liu Xidan/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Xidan/Global Times

As US President Joe Biden argued for spending another $100 billion on Ukraine, Israel and the island of Taiwan in a televised speech last week, he made a curious claim that American leadership is what holds the world together.

This statement is obviously wrong. At best, American leadership is limited to what is known as the West, which basically amounts to NATO, Australia, Japan and South Korea, as well as a small number of countries in Latin America and Africa. The West's military might was humiliated in Afghanistan two years ago, and on the fields of Ukraine since. Its economic prestige has been shaken as well. As for culture... the less said, the better.

Biden was articulating what the Western establishment desperately wants to cling to: the delusion of a Pax Americana that supposedly arose at the end of the Cold War, some 35 years ago. Everyone was supposed to embrace liberal democracy and usher in the end of history in which the rules-based world order would reign forever.

Take it from someone who was there at its founding: Pax Americana never really existed. 

The name itself is a reference to Pax Romana, the order imposed by the Roman Empire - with fire and sword - over much of Europe, North Africa and the Levant 2,000 years ago. The Romans were harsh; Tacitus famously described it in the famous epigram, stating that they created a desert and called it peace. Yet a peace it was, with lands under Roman rule enjoying technology and a level of civilization that would not be seen again for hundreds of years after the empire's demise.

Has the American empire, such as it is, created anything of the kind? Hardly. Take the current situation in West Asia, where Washington is not only unable to stop the carnage between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but unwilling to even try. The historic Abraham Accords of the previous presidency may as well not exist at all.

Africa is in turmoil, with country after country in the Sahel rejecting the West and its never-ending anti-terrorism operations that somehow never get rid of terrorists. Latin America also seems to have spurned Washington. Venezuela has defeated the US plot to install an interim president. When El Salvador demonstrated that restoring law and order is not just possible but practical, the US NGOs actually protested about the human rights of organized criminals.

The historic nuclear deal with Iran that was torn up within a couple of years showed that the US does not keep their side of the bargain. The scramble to flee Afghanistan, as the US-backed regime crumbled before the Taliban, even before American boots were off the ground, ended up seared into the eyes of the world back in August 2021. 

Russia had offered the West a partnership, but was rejected. To ensure that countries in the post-Soviet space did not get out of line, the West created "color revolutions," once described as a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in Western branding and mass marketing. In reality, this was a template for winning other people's elections.

A euphoric British reporter wrote those words about the 2004 coup in Ukraine. A decade later, the US-backed another - leading to the separation of Crimea, the rebellion in Donbass and the war that Moscow finally openly joined in 2022, when all other choices had been exhausted.

A "color revolution" was carried out in 2000, in Serbia, after NATO failed to achieve regime change with the 1999 air war. NATO occupied Kosovo and declared the Serbian province an "independent state" in 2008. Contrary to Western pronouncements, that did not resolve the conflict, nor did it make the people there more prosperous.

Then in 2003, the US led the illegal invasion of Iraq. Weakened by a decade of war, the US-backed Iraqi government then almost collapsed to ISIS, which arose on the winds of the Arab Spring - a chain of "color revolutions" in North Africa and West Asia that promised prosperity and peace, but brought only war and suffering. Just ask the Libyans and the Syrians.

The fraud of Pax Americana began in the 1990s, in the ruins of Yugoslavia - my country of birth. The US had backed the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina to reject a political deal with the Serbs and Croats, plunging that former republic into civil war. Then they repeatedly sabotaged the UN and EU attempts to broker a peace, so that NATO could make a grand entrance in 1995 and save the day like the cavalry, just like in an old Western movie.

As it turned out, the American Empire was not indispensable. It could not create peace or prosperity around the world, only chaos and strife. These days, others have taken up the job of making people's lives better, for example the BRICS+ group, who are not so much opposed to the West as determined to leave it behind in the blood-soaked mud of its own imperial failure.

The author is a Serbian-American journalist. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn