Is the 'World’s Policeman' Going To Resign?

The U.S. has agreed to Russia’s proposal to have Syria dispose of its chemical weapons and place them under international control. With this agreement, a military attack on Syria has been avoided for the time being.

It is likely that President Obama genuinely wants to avoid the use of military force, somehow or another. In that sense, Russia’s proposal was a godsend for the president.

Nevertheless, at the end of August, President Obama declared his intention to launch a punishment strike against Syria. Going back on previous statements, the president called off the attack. As a result, there will likely be complex repercussions.

After postponing the attacks, President Obama gave an address on Sept. 10. Of great significance to the world are the following remarks stressed by the president:

“America is not the world’s policeman.”

In a world where authority is wielded over countries that break international rules, America — for better or worse, whether one likes it or not — has come to play the role of policeman against the backdrop of that overwhelming military strength.

Using the expression “global cop,” another way of saying “the world’s policeman,” the U.K.’s weekly publication The Economist published an article about America with the following headline:

“Global Cop, Like It or Not”

America has become a great power, playing the role of de facto policeman in order to preserve the stability of the world, including Japan.

American citizens, however, are worn out from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and are increasingly saying that the U.S. should prioritize solving domestic problems, such as the economy and unemployment, and should not get involved in the troubles of other, distant countries.

The president’s remark, “America is not the world’s policeman,” reflects that kind of domestic mood.

The president also stated the following in the above mentioned address:

“Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong.”

But, if America were to completely abandon its role as policeman, what would become of the world? I believe the downside of that would be immense. It seems President Obama understands that as well. Indeed, in his Sept. 10 address, he pointed out the following:

“But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.”

I believe “act,” in this case, refers to a military strike. In other words, he has declared the possibility that America will resort to military force, depending on the conditions.

The president continues, stating:

“That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional.”

That is to say, he is asserting that America is not just an “ordinary country,” but that it is also an “exceptional country” that acts for the purpose of maintaining world order and punishing evil deeds. While saying “America is not the world’s policeman,” in the same speech he also indicates that the U.S. is prepared to play the role of policeman, depending on the circumstances.

Listeners are a little confused as to what on earth President Obama wants to do.

Some people criticize this speech as being unclear and indecisive, while others evaluate it as careful and pragmatic.

President Obama himself may be wavering about the role America should take in the world.

As for the crisis in Syria, for now the focus is shifting to the diplomatic negotiations between the U.S. and Russia. If Syria does not observe the chemical weapons disposal agreement, however, the debate over a military strike is bound to resurface. It is definitely not a small possibility.

On that occasion, what kind of decision President Obama makes will have a major impact on not just America, but the entire world.

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