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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid