Pax Imperator

Pax Imperator.Part of seven Deadly sins series. Referenceng films Apocalyse Now and Restrepo. Title is derived from antiwar poem "Ave Imperatrix," by Oscar Wilde written in response to the British Empire's wars in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan in the lat Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries.
Pax Imperator • Composite Photograph • 2016

Are the “democratic” and “defensive” arguments presented to justify more than a century of continuous war actually believable? Or is domination of the peoples and resources of the world what is really involved? What is the truth about the “peace” of the “American Centuries? ” What is the truth regarding what has come to be called “Endless War” with the more than 18-year war in Afghanistan? Who or what is responsible?

The U.S. ruling class mistakenly believed they’d won the Cold War when the Soviet Union imploded some quarter-century ago. They launched wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East and Central Asia. These wars have dragged on and on for years and are now the longest in American history. They remain unresolved . . . and possibly unresolvable!

What has been wrought so far is untold death and destruction for millions of ordinary working people. Washington’s course has also brought casualties and ruined lives for tens of thousands of U.S. workers and farmers deployed to fight and die for the interests of the ruling moneyed families.

Sources: “Apocalypse Now” (1979) and “Restrepo.” (2010)

Additional Comments

The title of this piece is a take-off on that of an 1881 poem, “Ave Imperatrix,” by Oscar Wilde about the British Empire’s wars in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan shortly after the empire suffered a costly defeat in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Is the Wilde poem as crudely and naively jingoist as it appears? Or is it a satirical mockery of the dominant justification for imperialist expansionism as “the white man’s burden” for “civilizing” the world. With Wilde, one is never quite sure. In the final stanza, he opines that a new and juster world under British rule would arise by sacrificing English blood for the plunder of the world by Victorian imperialism. Where have we heard that refrain repeated so many times since?

This argument in defense of colonial policy was put forward by the pro-imperialist wing of the Socialist International in the early years of the Twentieth Century as it became an apologist for  Euro-American world domination – “the International of the white race,” in the words of the delegates to the 1919 Congress of the Peoples of the East in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Those pro-war “socialists,” whose latter-day progeny include Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, provided ideological cover to justify two world wars and the endless conflicts in faraway lands. Sanders and AOC continue this course today through their votes to fund the Pentagon war machine and their loyal promotion of the war party, whatever their seemingly critical rhetoric might sometimes imply.

With breath-taking scenery and heart-pounding action, Apocalypse Now uses surrealistic and symbolic sequences detailing the confusion, violence, and fear to tell the story of nightmarish madness of the Vietnam War. While hardly an antiwar screed, the movie raised important questions about the true American goals and counter-insurgency warfare. Restrepo is a documentary shot by a film crew embedded with a unit in a remote area of Afghanistan, but it is no less disturbing, dark, and surrealist.

The resulting imagery should give us pause to ask questions.