America’s ‘Global Policeman’ Role

America’s influential neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks want U.S. interventions pretty much everywhere, but other powers are chafing against this U.S. “global policeman,” as ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller explains.

By Graham E. Fuller

Global disorder is on the rise. What can the U.S. do about it? There are two fundamentally different approaches one can take — it all depends on your philosophy of how the world works.

U.S. Army forces operating in southern Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Apr. 2, 2003 (U.S. Navy photo)

The first school thinks primarily in terms of law, order and authority: it accepts the need for a global policeman. The second school is more willing to let regional nations take the initiative to eventually work things out among themselves. Both schools possess advantages and disadvantages. Something called Balance of Power politics lies halfway between the two.

Global policemen nominate themselves from among the ranks of the most powerful — and ambitious — states of the world. Over the last half century the U.S. has assumed this role — but a significant shift is already under way. In Washington this school argues that growing American disinclination to assert order is a key reason for a more chaotic world. From the end of World War II to the fall of the USSR in 1991 Washington had shared, reluctantly, that role with the Soviet Union — rivals but both unwilling to let the world spin out of control into chaos and nuclear war. Then, after the fall of the USSR, the U.S. triumphantly assumed the role of “the world’s sole superpower.” In an earlier century the British Empire played the same role, although contested by Germany, France and others.

In Washington right now, neoconservatives and liberal interventionists (export democracy, by gunpoint if necessary) lead the charge against what they see as U.S. abandonment of its moral duty, leaving the world in the lurch. Their list of American failed duties is long: if only we had moved earlier to remove the Kim dynasty in North Korea, or Assad in Syria, or blocked the referendum that reincorporated Crimea into Russia, or brought about regime change in Iran,…

Read more