The United States as a World Power:
How much longer will the US be the
policeman of the World ?
The United States has been a super power for decades, and since America has always involved themselves in other countries' problems. Instead of isolationism, the country has practiced getting involved. Since the Monroe Presidency, America has been named the World's police force. Dispelling anarchists, and stopping coos, the united states portrays itself as the world protector. Since Monroe, some Americans have felt that isolation is the way to go, and most feel that it is our right to offer assistance. Two recent incidents, Operation Desert Storm and The War in Bosnia have allowed the United States to show off it's strength, both on the military and political level. It has also given the chance for America to evaluate it's foreign policy, but can the World Super-Power continue to police other countries in light of earlier battles, or should the stationed troops pack up and home for good.
Americans have always been overseas, protecting or overseeing the peace of another country. During the Monroe administration many US Policies were established, some of which are still in effect today. The Monroe Doctrine, passed into law by Congress under Monroe, has forced the United States to get into so many conflicts with neighboring Latin American countries. Sometimes even European countries declared war on America because of this doctrine.
The Monroe Doctrine was delivered by James Monroe to the United States Congress in 1823. Since that time, this document has been the cornerstone of the United States foreign policy. This document was established for two major reasons, both involving European countries on United States soil. The first was Russia, who at the time was planning to establish a colony on the pacific northwest coast, the United States felt that it was a strategic military position, and if ever at war with Russia, it would pose as a threat. The second was that several European nations were planing to help Spain recover some of it's 'New World' colonies which had declared independence. The United States saw this as a threat as well. For these reasons, Monroe made an statements to various nations.
"One statement warned Russia that the American continents were 'not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power." A second warned France, Russia, Prussia, and Austria that any attempt to extend their 'system to any portion of this hemisphere' would be considered 'dangerous to our peace and safety' and any attempt to control independent American governments an unfriendly act toward the United States."1
With these and other statements, John Quincy Adams drew up the Monroe Doctrine, and Congress voted and passed it.
The Monroe Doctrine was stressed during the time of Roosevelt's Presidency. During this era many foreign policies were given up, such as the Platt Amendment. Roosevelt decided that instead of the
"Old single-handed enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine,"2
that they should rely only on the other American nations for the enforcement of their laws. Along with this Roosevelt showed very little signs of strength towards foreign countries. When Cuba was full of riots under the leadership of Machado, Roosevelt did nothing. In 1934 America gave up the Platt Amendment, and removed the marines from Haiti.
The Vietnam War was one of the most influential wars in American History. The United States did not actually lose, but ending with a cease fire was considered a loss. When all of the troops returned they were looked upon by the American public scornfully. This caused both the troops and the American citizens to dislike the government. Many riots took place and many public displays happened.
"...in response to a drive by the North Vietnamese forces into the South, President Richard M. Nixon ordered the mining of harbors off North Vietnam. Both the bombing ant the mining provoked sustained antiwar protests within the United States."3
For many years the United States government was very uneasy about getting into any heavy conflicts with other nations, for fear that it may turn into another Vietnam. Resent towards the governments decision is still around, but it is dissipating fast, mostly because of all of the good things that the United States has done.
All of this has changed since that time. United States foreign policy is one of the most complicated problems that has arisen. With the two World Wars, United States foreign policy was used greatly to secure a peace for Europe. With the first World War, America's entrance was a decision of President Wilson's when he asked congress if they could declare war, stating:
"The World must be made safe for democracy."4
The entry of the United States into World War II was an event that will be remembered for some time. America entered the war when Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was bombed from the air by Japanese air planes, thus destroying America's state of neutrality.
In each of these wars America has played a huge role, being one of the biggest and strongest Super-Power. At that time the United States established everything. The United States also kept troops over on foreign soil, despite reports that they were coming home.
Proceeding to the end of the 20th century, a look at the Bush administrations during the Gulf War shows how big of a part the United States actually played in the war. The United States contributed over forty thousand troops to the Persian Gulf, and much more was given in finances to fund the war. The six weeks that the war took place during was all handled by General Colin Powell and a team of military experts. Without Secretary of State James Baker foreign relations with Russia and Iraq would have been impossible. Other European countries sent in military personnel, but the bulk of the military force was taken care of by the United States. The attacks were all coordinated through the United States. Most air bombings and sea launches were done by American aircraft. When victory was achieved, the world portrayed it as America's Win.
Television allowed the Persian Gulf War to be seen in television sets throughout the country. With the introduction of this new technology, American citizens were filled with a burst of patriotism for the country that they had forgotten. With this a lot of attitudes shifted or were enforced into believing that America was a good policeman. It got the bad guy, and at the same time saved the girl. American opinions of peace-keeping in other countries changed when they viewed desert storm. It was a very popular war, people were getting all excited over the troops over there. Yellow ribbons were popping up everywhere, it was the topic everyone knew about. I think that this is a main reason why Americans won't be able to stop helping out other countries. Basically put, helping is in an American's nature. Americans have been through hell all of there life, that they don't want it too happen to another people. So, they help in their little part, and exclaim that it was their country that did it.
With the addition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, many Americans are beginning to remember the Cold War and Vietnam. The war in Bosnia has been ongoing continuously since the breakaway of Yugoslavia from the former Soviet Union. In an effort to gain themselves an independent country, 3 ethnic-diverse groups are fighting over their rights to Bosnia. In an effort to save the peace, President Clinton stated:
"We can't be everywhere. We can't do everything. But where our interests and values are at stake - and where we can make a difference - America must lead. We stood up for peace in Bosnia."5
With help from the UN and other countries, the United States has sent in peace-keepers and troops in an effort to stop the bloodshed.
It is obvious that humankind perceives the United States as the policeman of the World. There are many with diverse opinions on the subject of United States foreign policy. Some say that the United States should just hole themselves up and not come out to help out another country. Others insist that it is our duty as Americans, being tied to other countries because of ancestry, that we must help any country in need, even if they don't know they're in need. In President Clinton's State of the Union Address he states that:
"All over the world," he declared, "people still look to us... We must not be an isolationist or the world's policeman. But we can be its best peacemaker."6
The most recent peace-keeping mission is that of Haiti, where more than twenty thousand United States troops have been sent there to keep the peace of it's local inhabitants.
When he was before the United Nations, in concern to the ten thousand troops in Haiti the president said:
"America is a reluctant Super-power with no desire to be the world's policeman. The United States will use 'diplomacy when we can, but force is we must' because America has a 'special responsibility' to lead a generation with a 'sacred mission' to spread diplomacy around the globe."7
So it appears that the president is showing that although the United States does not want to police the world, we can just make sure it's peaceful.
The majority of Americans feel that what the United States us doing is good, and that we should help out less-peaceful countries to become more like ours. In concern to Bosnia and why the United States shouldn't intervene:
"Once again the United States is about to plunge into another Vietnam. Before we make the same mistake twice it is important to make several things clear. First of all, our national interest is not involved in Bosnia. Bosnia is isolated, has no strategic resources, and it does not straddle or control international trade routes. Second, we are getting involved in a foreign civil war, as in Vietnam; we are not stemming any kind of international aggression. Third, America cannot afford to become the world's policeman."8
"I have felt for a long time now that the United States should be involved militarily in Bosnia. Once we created 'safe havens', we were morally obligated to make them both safe and havens. To our shame, we did neither. Now we are finally deploying to Bosnia, but for all the wrong reasons."9
The idea of the United States losing a battle seems impossible to most American citizens today. Being the only remaining Super-Power has most Americans feeling that they're better than others. The undying truth is, in some cases they're not. Currently a Japanese child's education is about one hundred extra days than an American child. Statistics also show that among American children, a major percentage is lazy. The Voting Public has become less aware in Political Events, and some don't keep up with World Events either. The average American citizen goes home everyday and spends no time thinking about Bosnia, Haiti or any other country where United States troops are stationed. Most Americans only become aware of troops in a foreign country when one dies, or a big catastrophe occurs. China's economy is growing a mile a minute, they have the fastest child birth rate, and are expected to reach the level of a Super-Power within the next couple years.
The foreign policy that President Clinton stated in his latest State of the Union address can be interpreted in various ways. Instead of referring to America as a policeman, he used the phrase "best peacemaker." He stated what a difference America made with it's troops, such as Bosnia, Haiti, North Korea, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland. President Clinton forgot to mention to the beating the Chechen rebels received from Russia or any other significant event which appears to be a loss for the United Nations.
The United Nations was formed on January 1, 1942 when twenty six nations created the United Nations Declaration in Washington DC It can be easily perceived that the United States heads the United Nations. Being the strongest of the four remaining Super-Powers the United States has always been placed above other countries when thinking of status. The United Nations has hundreds of peace-keeping missions a year, and in the course of these missions, troops are needed to keep the peace. Though the United States doesn't generally respond to little United Nations requests, the United States does give full support when a international law is broken. A good example of this would be the Persian Gulf War when neighboring Iraq invaded Kuwait without warning and took over the country, establishing martial law. This goes against treaties established by the United Nations and thus actions needed to be taken.
America cannot continue to police the whole world, It is obvious that the troops are dispersed throughout it. If a catastrophe, uprising, war, etc.. were to break out what would the United States do. The troops would be out there and not in the country where they should be. A suggestion to President Clinton from one of his cabinet members was to convince the United Nations to form a UN Army. The whole project was to be volunteer, the soldiers were to be recruited from various countries, trying not to discriminate. United Nations Officers would go through a series of tests to make sure that no Sadaam Husseins came into control. The idea for a United Nations army is an honorable idea, yet questions arise such as where will the army be located, funding for equipment, and barracks would be needed. Weapons would have to be supplied, an array of ships, both land and air, up to date, new technology. This is going to cost a lot. Even now the United States is behind in our United Nations' payments. So where will all this money come from, China is currently trying to conform to it's increasing population, Japan is struggling though the economy is prospering. The answer is plainly private investors, but the purpose of the United Nations was to bring all of the world's countries together. This question will remain unsolved until either President Clinton, or United Nations' General Secretary Boutros-Boutros Ghali find an answer.
Another topic involving the United States and how to limit our policing is NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is no longer because of the break up of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. When NATO was in effect the United States had a weapon in it's arsenal that could have been used. The problem with NATO is not that it's too old, the problem is that it is need of repair. President Clinton should go over it with the adjoining countries and they should revise the foundations of NATO to fit the new world. Back when NATO was first beginning the thought of a global communications network called the Internet was unheard of. NATO could be a vital resource of the United Nations as well, with NATO the United Nations would be able to organize countries better, especially the militaries. The whole purpose behind NATO was to gather together the armies of the countries against the Soviet Union in the case of an attack. The problem with the United Nations is that they need to organize an army.
"...that will ideally mean the creation of a specially trained force of soldiers put at the United Nations' disposal. The structure of their command would have to be clear-as clear as that of NATO, the only multinational outfit capable of packing the punch that any intervention force needs. That in turn would require big changes at the United Nations, but they are not impossible ones. If made, President Clinton would then have no good reason to withhold American units from future United Nations' operations commanded by non-Americans..."10
Another problem, which President Clinton is solving with a budget cut, is military spending. With the cut, the already low defense budget will have to squander just to keep it's troops in foreign countries. Even in times of peace the government takes a big chunk out of the tax bin to pay for the military. If we had less troops in active duty throughout the world, the less we would have to pay for shipments to them. These shipments include food, weapons, ammo, armor, vehicles, aircraft, etc. These things can range from prices of four dollars up to a couple billion dollars. When they pay for this the money is taken away from other programs, such as scholarships, medi-care, transportation, etc. Each year spending for the troops increase phenomenally. There are a couple solutions, the president can jack up taxes, instead of cutting them, or bring home some of the troops.
"President Clinton's defense budget for 1996 will cut spending of $5.7 billion, but will complete the historic restructuring of United States' military from a Cold War juggernaut to a leaner force designed for regional contingencies."11
With Americans stationed in over twenty plus countries other than those outlined in this report, the United States would have a very hard time trying to recall them all back home. The stability of the country may not handle it as well. The United States will just have to face that because of it's first impression such a long time ago, the country will always be viewed as the world police. No matter how much military spending Clinton cuts, Americans themselves still feel a pride to be born and live in a country free from tyranny, where a person has a right to choose. Most Americans view foreign countries at war as a little lost puppy, wandering around haphazardly, searching for it's lost form of government. The United States citizens want to invite the puppy in and nurture it into a democracy like themselves. So far this policy has gone well, with minor incidents, hopefully in the years to come, it stays that way.
1) Compton's NewMedia Inc., Compton's Encyclopedia
Copyright 1994, WebPage from Electric Library
2) Southwestern Company, The Volume Library (vol.2)
Copyright1989, pg. 2212
3) Compton's NewMedia Inc., Compton's Encyclopedia
Copyright 1994, WebPage from Electric Library
4) Southwestern Company, The Volume Library (vol.2)
Copyright1989, pg. 2213
5) Brewer, Norm, State of the Union:Clinton on everything from Bosnia to welfare reform
Copyright 1996, WebPage from Electric Library
6) Ibid., WebPage from Electric Library
7) Omicinski, John, Clinton to UN: America not the World's Policeman
Copyright 1994, WebPage from Electric Library
8) Voorhis, Jerry L., Intervention in Bosnia:Opinions
Copyright 1995, WebPage from Electric Library
9) Ryan, Timothy, Intervention in Bosnia:Opinions
Copyright 1995, WebPage from Electric Library
10) Rubenstein, Ed., World Cop ?
Copyright 1992, WebPage from Electric Library
11) Spitzer, Kirk, Clinton proposes cutting defense budget by $5.7 billion
Copyright 1995, WebPage from Electric Library
1) SouthWestern; The Volume Library (Vol. 2)
SouthWestern Company, Nashville, Tennessee, Copyright 1989
2) Spitzer, Kirk; Clinton Proposes Cutting Defense Budget by $5.7 million
Gannett News Service, WebPage, URL=http://www.elibrary.com/, Copyright 1995
3) Rubenstein, Ed; World Cop ?
Economist Newspaper, WebPage, URL=http://www.elibrary.com/, Copyright 1992
4) Omicinski, John; Clinton to U.N.:America not the world's policeman
Gannett News Service, WebPage, URL=http://www.elibrary.com/, Copyright 1994
5) Brewer, Norm; State of the Union:Clinton on everything from Bosnia to welfare reform
Gannett News Service, WebPage, URL=http://www.elibrary.com/, Copyright 1996
6) Compton's NewMedia Inc.; Compton's Multimedia Encyclopedia
Compton's NewMedia Inc., WebPage, URL=http://www.elibrary.com/, Copyright 1994
7) Shapiro, Isaac; Intervention in Bosnia:Opinions
Los Angeles Times, WebPage, URL=http://www.elibrary.com/, Copyright 1995
8) Auster, Bruce B.; America as SuperCop
US News & World Report. New York, Copyright 1994
9) Summers Jr., Harry G.;Persian Gulf War Almanac
Facts on File Inc., New York, Copyright 1995
10) Vulliamy, Ed; Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia's War
St. Martin's Press, New York, Copyright 1992