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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid