Some claim the United States should act as the world’s policeman and maintain that doing so is a “Moral Imperative”. In my opinion, the United States should not assume the responsibility of the world’s policeman. It should not act unilaterally to interfere in the affairs of other states without the consensus of other nations. Furthermore, I disagree with the thesis that the above actions can or should be justified by invoking a “Moral Imperative”. Section I. of this post contains the “Guiding Principles” of the US Foreign Policy from the official website of the Whitehouse. Section II. has definitions of terms used. If any reasonable discussion of the implementation of our relations with the nations of the world is to occur, the terms “Moral Imperative” and “Foreign Policy” must be defined. Here I give examples of how the terms have been used in public recently and a few definitions found on the internet. Section III. has quotes from Wikipedia’s page listing examples of covert actions against other nations undertaken by the US. It is exactly many of these that describe the actions of a “global police force” that I consider to be unjustified. Also are examples of active military interventions abroad. Section IV. comprises a discussion. I. Foreign Policy Principles The Guiding Principles of the Foreign Policy of the United States are: “President Obama has pursued national security policies that keep the American people safe, while turning the page on a decade of war and restoring American leadership abroad. Since President Obama took office, the United States has devastated al Qaeda’s leadership. Now, thanks to our extraordinary servicemen and women, we have reached a pivotal moment – as we definitively end the war in Iraq and begin to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, we have refocused on a broader set of priorities around the globe that will allow the United States to be safe, strong, and prosperous in the 21st century. To advance America’s national security, the President is committed to using all elements of American power, including the strength of America’s values.” And the National Security Strategy is summarized: “The National Security Strategy, released May 27, 2010, lays out a strategic approach for advancing American interests, including the security of the American people, a growing U.S. economy, support for our values, and an international order that can address 21st century challenges.” Read the full National Security Strategy (pdf) http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy [Broken] II. Definitions “The foreign policy of the United States is the way in which it interacts with foreign nations and sets standards of interaction for its organizations, corporations and individual citizens. The U.S. Secretary of State is analogous to the foreign minister of other nations and is the official charged with state-to-state diplomacy, although the president has ultimate authority over foreign policy; that policy includes defining the national interest, as well as the strategies chosen both to safeguard that and to achieve its policy goals.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_policy_of_the_United_States The term “moral imperative” has been applied to many popular issues recently. Some examples: Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute said in April this year: “Defenders of free enterprise should remind Americans that the choice of the system that rewards merit, promotes individual responsibility and celebrates industry is not merely an economic decision. It is also a moral imperative.” http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/2012/04/winning-fight-fairness/479136 [Broken] In June, 2009 President Obama said: “Providing Americans with affordable health insurance, the president said, is “an economic imperative, but it's also a moral imperative.” http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23635.html “'Responsibility to protect': the moral imperative to intervene in Syria The moral imperative of the international 'responsibility to protect' doctrine, also known as R2P, compels the world to react and respond to the widespread persecution and killings in Syria.” By James. P. Rudolph / March 8, 2012 http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary...ct-the-moral-imperative-to-intervene-in-Syria Universal health care: A Jewish moral imperative By Julie Schonfeld “The Talmud, a far-reaching collection of Jewish law and principles, lists 10 public services that a community must provide, three of these relate to basic public health and sanitation - public baths, public toilets and a doctor. The others include a court of justice, a charity fund, a house of worship, a schoolmaster, a notary and experts to oversee ritual matters. The 16th century compilation of Jewish law, the Shulhan Arukh, states that where doctors reducing fees to care for the poor is not sufficient, the community must provide a fund.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...al-imperative/2012/03/26/gIQAj8D4bS_blog.html An article in the Anchorage Daily News, “Climate actions hold moral imperative”, 04/21/12, stated: “The One People, One Earth initiative offers extraordinary insight into the moral imperative for climate action, as seen through the lens of faith, youth, science, and traditional knowledge.” http://www.adn.com/2012/04/21/v-printer/2434907/climate-actions-hold-moral-imperative.html [Broken] Unfortunately, the diverse subjects where the term appears do little to help define its meaning. As a result, the term can be and has been used to obscure the user’s true motives. From Wikipedia: “A moral imperative is a principle originating inside a person's mind that compels that person to act. It is a kind of categorical imperative, as defined by Immanuel Kant. Kant took the imperative to be a dictate of pure reason, in its practical aspect. Not following the moral law was seen to be self-defeating and thus contrary to reason. Later thinkers took the imperative to originate in conscience, as the divine voice speaking through the human spirit. The dictates of conscience are simply right and often resist further justification. Looked at another way, the experience of conscience is the basic experience of encountering the right.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_imperative From the MacMillan dictionary, “moral imperative”: “something that must happen because it is the right thing” http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/moral-imperative III. Actions by the United States in foreign affairs Since the end of World War Two the US has acted covertly, without the consensus of the world community. Excerpts from Wikipedia: “The United States government has been involved in and assisted in the overthrow of foreign governments (more recently termed regime change) without the overt use of U.S. military force. Often, such operations are tasked to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Many of the governments targeted by the U.S. have been democratically elected, rather than authoritarian governments or military dictatorships. In many cases, the governments toppled were replaced by dictatorships, sometimes installed with assistance by the U.S. Notwithstanding a history of U.S. covert actions to topple democratic governments and of installing authoritarian regimes in their places (see, e.g. Iran 1953, below), U.S. officials routinely express support for democracy as best supporting U.S. interests and as protecting human life and health.” “During the Cold War: Communist states 1944-1989 Syria 1949 Iran 1953 Tibet 1950s Guatemala 1954 Cuba 1959 Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960 Iraq 1963 Brazil 1964 Republic of Ghana 1966 Iraq 1968 Chile 1973 Afghanistan 1973-74 Iraq 1973-75 Argentina 1976 Afghanistan 1978-1980s Iran 1980 Alleged U.S. green light for Saddam Effort to destabilize through war Nicaragua 1981-1990 Destabilization through CIA assets Arming the Contras El Salvador 1980-92 Cambodia 1980-95 Angola 1980s Philippines 1986 Since the end of the Cold War: Iraq 1992-1995 Guatemala 1993 Serbia 2000 Venezuela 2002 Haiti 2004 Palestinian Authority, 2006-present Somalia 2006-2007 Iran 2001-present Jundullah militants Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan People's Mujahedin of Iran” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_United_States_foreign_regime_change_actions The below list is a timeline of United States military operations. (list containing hundreds of armed interventions, including major wars, omitted for brevity) See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations IV. Discussion The above two lists of covert and overt military interventions contain hundreds of examples of the United States intervening (interfering) in other states’ business. Admittedly there are a few which most people, including myself, would judge to be justified. The sheer volume of these actions, however, shows the willingness of the U. S. to act as the world’s policeman. Economic power and military strength are the real currencies that matter in international affairs. The United States is clearly the most powerful actor: it is the richest and has far more military power than any other nation. And our American values also have tangible value in transacting state-to-state business. Our nation grew into this position of power by means of the uniquely decentralized, transparent, rule-based character of our Western-style politics, economics, and society. The value we place on competition, science, property rights, medicine, consumer-oriented society, and our work ethic distinguishes us from many less developed nations. Since the end of World War Two the United States has seen the doctrine of “containment” during the cold war evolve into the modern strategy of using “soft power” to prevent war, preserve global order, promote democracy, stabilize the world economy, implement a nuclear nonproliferation strategy, and ensure our national security. Globalization has contributed significantly to a widening gap between what U.S. voters demand and what the government can deliver. Our advanced liberal democracy is facing a crisis of governability. We are facing economic and political dysfunction. If our own house is in disorder we can hardly expect to be a “shining example” for others. I do not advocate retreating into isolationism. The U.S. has an important role to play on the world stage. But leadership and good example should not be conflated with Imperialism and hegemony. I agree we should promote our unique American values, but without the arrogance that our values and beliefs are the only true and correct ones. President Obama has linked his strategy for U. S. Foreign Policy with “American Exceptionalism”. This should not reflect the kind underlying motives found in “Manifest Destiny” used by our American ancestors to steal Indian lands and forcibly relocate their tribes…all based on some moral justification similar to “Moral Imperative”, or “it must happen because it is right”. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifest_destiny Although the U.S. is accused of having Imperialistic desires the publicly stated motives for its actions are always more benevolent sounding: to safeguard our national strategic interest and to enhance freedom, liberty, human rights, and to promote liberal democracy. All rational behavior has some underlying motivation. In the case of intervention in other states’ affairs often the public reason given for doing so actually differs from the real motive. Special interest groups such as the Military-Industrial Complex probably have great influence on foreign policy and obviously desire to promote their murderous endeavors through obfuscation. There is ample reason to doubt the public explanations our government releases to justify our “police actions” or outright wars. Lessons learned from Iraq and the Vietnam war (and secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia) is reminiscent of how our government has deliberately deceived the public in the past. In the case of Iraq, for example, the popular reason for the second invasion and war was to disarm Saddam Hussein of his WMDs. As we know, none were ever found. Today Iraq is nearly a “failed state” with a dysfunctional political system, an authoritarian leader, sectarian violence, and a looming threat of disintegration. After ten years of war the massive number of deaths and injuries on both sides and the huge sums of dollars spent cause one to question: might there be some other motivations? Could it have been oil, as some claim? Who has benefited from the money (hundreds of Billions) spent? As for the War in Afghanistan, were the vast mineral deposits, including huge quantities of gold, iron, copper, and rare earths motive for invasion and occupation? While it was promised that the US invasions would bring democracy to both countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, both continue to rank low in global rankings of political freedom, with warlords continuing to hold power in Afghanistan with US support, and Iraqi communities more segregated today than before by gender and ethnicity as a result of the war. Let us not forget the Americans who have died, were injured, have lost limbs, and who suffered indelible traumas to themselves and their families. And add to that the cost of lifetime care for those survivors the Veteran’s Administration will provide. For details and chronology see: http://costsofwar.org/ I advocate a revaluation and a “general retrenchment” of our foreign policy priorities and objectives. This would include a significant decrease in military spending and a drastic reduction in overseas deployment of troops. Allies should be required to assume more responsibility for ensuring stability. We need new strategic economic planning sufficient to renew our economic competitiveness. We should institute a new style of populism where the majority of our population benefits rather than only the party faithful or special interest groups. It is mandatory that the United States does not turn inward and espouse isolationism and protectionism. Globalization is a reality and we must accept and join our fellow world citizens with respect for their different values on our journey into a peaceful and prosperous future. Others see our nation only through the instrument of our foreign policy…how we treat others. If the United States expects to maintain the respect of members of the global community it needs to set a better example. Unless the United States restores its own political and economic solvency other nations will turn away from our dysfunctional system and seek leadership from other powers. Further reading: An excellent debate was sponsored by National Public Radio between six notable participants, three in favor and three against. The question was: “Should the U.S., with its enormous military might, act as a global sheriff, policing the world's trouble spots?” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19180589 Should the United States be the World's Policeman? by John McCain http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Should_the_United_States_be_the_World's_Policeman?