News / USA

United States’ Role as Global Policeman Questioned

Is United States’ Role as Global Policeman in Decline?i
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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.
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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.

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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.

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