News / USA

United States’ Role as Global Policeman Questioned

Is United States’ Role as Global Policeman in Decline?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
June 03, 2014 11:35 PM
In recent months, U.S. President Barack Obama has faced criticism that his approach to foreign policy has been too cautious, emboldening other adversaries such as Syria, China and Russia. The White House argues the projection of power involves more than military might. Henry Ridgwell reports on whether the United States still plays the role of the world’s policeman.
Henry Ridgwell
— In recent months, U.S. President Barack Obama has faced criticism that his approach to foreign policy has been too cautious, emboldening adversaries such as Syria, China and Russia. The White House argues the projection of power involves more than military might. Whether or not the United States still plays the role of the world’s policeman is in question.
 
Dozens of men, women and children lie dead or dying after an apparent chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces on the Damascus suburb of Ghoutta last August.

Syria’s President Bashar al Assad had crossed one of Washington’s stated red lines, but faced no military consequence. That was a pivotal moment, says Xenia Dormandy of London-based policy institute Chatham House.

“Nobody really believes America’s red lines in quite the same way as they used to because ... Assad was allowed to walk over those red lines without consequence,” said Dormandy.

'Paper tiger'

Dormandy said the United States remains by far the world’s biggest military and economic power, and the perception that it is unwilling to use its muscle is dangerous. “If countries - say for example China - believe that they can take over territory, as Russia did in the case of the Crimea, without consequence, they will cross red lines that they do not see causing a U.S. or a Western response.”

Russia’s armed takeover of Crimea in March prompted criticism that a cautious approach by the United States’ had emboldened other world powers.

The West had few military options, however, according to Professor Arne Westad of the London School of Economics.

“Its options of course under any circumstance, going back to the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, would have been very limited. Russia after all is a nuclear weapons state,” said Westad.

Ukrainians recognize such limitations, said Orysia Lutsevych, a Ukraine specialist at Chatham House. “Ukrainians are really cautious, and understanding that an outright military confrontation that will be backed by the United States would be difficult and it will cause a lot of casualties.”
 
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during a graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy, May 28, 2014, in West Point, New York.President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during a graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy, May 28, 2014, in West Point, New York.
x
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during a graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy, May 28, 2014, in West Point, New York.
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during a graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy, May 28, 2014, in West Point, New York.
In a speech to military graduates last month, Obama said it would be wrong to launch military operations simply to avoid America looking weak.

"I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I ever sent you into harm's way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed,"said Obama.

Give and take

Many allies in Asia rely on the so-called U.S. security umbrella as a counterweight to growing Chinese power. Washington is war-weary after tough campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, though, and wants its allies to step up to the plate, according to Dormandy.

“But acting together is about building coalitions. And so this assumption that they have long held and many in Europe have long held that America will be first, America will put the resources out on the table and they just need to back it up, is no longer true,” said Dormandy.

U.S. ally Japan plans to allow its military a greater role in global security, prompting Chinese anger.

But analysts say the change in policy is welcomed in Washington, where policymakers are happy for the United States to take the lead, but want more support in return.

You May Like

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Not Again from: Canada
June 03, 2014 11:40 PM
Blaming the Obama administration for not responding militarly to agression, is the easy answer to all the problems the Western World faces, but such a simplistic outlook is not sustainable nor correct.
For decades the West has relied on powerfull alliances, like NATO. Unfortunately with the fall of the Soviet Union, the NATO allience went out of its way to get the "peace dividend" an ill conceived approach to security/risk management. Security must rely principaly on deterrence, not in a continuous state of wars and conflicts. The failure to sustain a credible deterrence, for almost three decades of cuts and downsizing, has resulted in a World facing increasing instability and emboldened authoritarian regimes; none of it can be blamed on the Obama administration;all of it it has been a collective failure of many of the European NATO allies to sustain their share of the collective deterrence posture. This situation needs to be corrected by the EU NATO allies, or NATO's usefulness is past its best before date, the US should not be the first responder to any conflicts; regional countries should be the first responders.
The initial tools to resolve conflicts should be diplomatic; escalated to economic sanctions, and not just tokenism; followed by total communication's isolation; eventually military support to the country facing agression; and only as a very last resort, a direct military response if, and only if, a critical national interest(s) are at direct risk.
If military force is adopted,under great reasoned justification, then a strategy of actually wining the confrontation, as quckly as possible, is necessary. Not a long term strategy resulting in long bleeding wars of attrition, such as we have observed since the Korean conflict, 60 yrs ago.
If there is no need to win, then there is no need to engage in military conflicts; unfortunately the US has engaged in too many such conflicts=no need/will to win, and has sacrificed thousands of lives for no real decisive positive outcomes! So, in my view, the Obama administration has stopped this very detrimental activity=wars with no need/will to win.
The need exists to improve deterrence of US alliances, the need exists to escalate economic and communication sanctions, in certain regions, against authoritarian expansionist regimes; the need to help countries under agression, and so on, long before actual military confrontations take place.
The answer must never be to engage in ever slowly escalating wars of attrition, as some past administrations have done to no avail, but great historical regret with no real benefit(s).


by: miller
June 03, 2014 9:25 PM
I love how the media behaves.....everyone of them paint their countries of aboard good while they keep using the bad boy slangs for rivals(others)


by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Elliot Lake, Canada
June 03, 2014 8:57 PM
The policy on the use of American military power will stabilize and moderate to a less extreme position once America is out of Afghanistan. America is war weary. It is, however, central to the use of any force whether it be on a person to person or state to state basis that verbal and diplomatic measures be used prior to the use of physical force. Under the law reasonable force is force used when necessary for one's self-defence. This is true in military matters, too. The use of force is also deemed reasonable in either civil or military matters if done to protect one over whom one has or can have protective rights and responsibilities. Thus it is not an attempt to weaken the capacity of the American military any more than it would be to expose individuals to crime to put forward a policy that force should be used only when reasonable. It is reasonable to use military force when it is necessary, when the force used is appropriate in degree and when force will accomplish the purpose of self-defence.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid