Over the years, the United States of America has risen to the level of a family head in the great clan of nations. The world has seen this tiny, unassuming nation of English exiles, with their unrealistic ideals of democracy and liberty, become the headquarters of the world’s affairs.
The role of the United States as the world’s police has evolved over the years and under different administrations. For example, the Trump administration pursued an “America First” policy focused on protecting American interests and reducing international commitments. In contrast, the Biden administration has emphasized the importance of multilateralism and rebuilding alliances.
The concept of the United States as the world’s police can be traced back to the post-World War II era. After the war, the United States emerged as a global military superpower and was responsible for maintaining global order. The establishment of the United Nations (U.N.) provided a platform for the United States and other major powers to exercise their influence and address global challenges. The U.N. Security Council, dominated by the Big Four (United States, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union), centralized the police power and allowed the United States to play a leading role in maintaining international peace and security.
Apart from this, the United States has often justified its role as the world’s police on moral grounds. American leaders have emphasized the country’s moral responsibility to lead and protect global interests. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, famously stated,
“If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall, and we see further than other countries into the future.”
This moral dimension has been a driving force behind America’s interventionist foreign policy.
The United States has also assumed the role of the world’s police to safeguard its national security interests. An example is the decision to fund Israel’s military technology, which eventually turned out to be farsighted.
At the same time, the global reach of the United States military ensures that threats to American security can be addressed preemptively and proactively. It has attained its lofty status due to military supremacy and its ability to project power across the globe.
America’s International Obligations
The United States has committed to several international agreements and treaties. These agreements come with obligations and responsibilities that the United States must fulfill. The United States demonstrates its commitment to promoting global peace, security, and prosperity by participating in these agreements. For example, the United States is a signatory to the Paris Agreement, which aims to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The United States plays a significant role in international trade and imposes export controls. Economic policies and trade agreements shape America’s international obligations. The United States promotes American prosperity through investments that expand markets for U.S. exports, create a level playing field for U.S. businesses, and support more.
For example, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and strengthened the economic ties between the three countries. The United States is also responsible for promoting economic development in other countries to reduce poverty and promote global prosperity.
This role has been America’s most prominent in recent years. From the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the Gulf War, the Somalian Humanitarian Crisis, and even the Ukrainian War, America has been involved in these conflicts, either overtly or covertly. This is mainly due to the country’s responsibility to preserve global security and peace.
The United States has also been instrumental in addressing terrorism, albeit partially successfully, in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. However, it has beaten the bitter lesson into such terrorist-infested states.
America understands that alliances and defense agreements are essential in fulfilling security obligations. For example, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance that the United States is a part of, and it has been instrumental in promoting peace and security in Europe. The U.S. is responsible for protecting and aiding the members of the alliance in case of invasions. This will make belligerent nations think twice about drawing the Big Dog’s ire.
The United States has often thrust itself into the eye of the storm in addressing global humanitarian crises and promoting human rights. It supports initiatives and organizations to fulfill its humanitarian obligations. For example, the United States is a member of the United Nations (U.N.) and contributes to its peacekeeping missions and humanitarian efforts.
The United States also provides foreign aid to countries in need, such as disaster relief and development assistance. An example is the Somalia intervention in conjunction with the United Nations before it escalated into the Battle of the Black Sea.
America’s International Obligations: The Outside View
There are varying opinions on its legitimacy as the world’s police. Some argue that the United States is responsible for maintaining global order and protecting human rights. Others criticize America’s interventionist foreign policy, viewing it as an imposition of power and interference in the affairs of other nations. The global community has questioned the concentration of power in the hands of one country and called for a more equitable and inclusive approach to global governance.