The United States as a Policeman of the World Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer

After World War II, the global community needed guarantees regarding the development of the political stability and peace in the world. As a result, the United States took the role of the policemen of the world in order to address threats of spreading violence and disorder over the globe. In the 2010s, the role of the United States as the world policemen can be discussed as most debatable because of controversies associated with the military intervention in Libya in 2011 and the intervention in Iraq started in 2014.

The debates are provoked by the facts that the intervention in Libya was not supported by many governors and that the discussion of present intervention in Iraq is based on the results of the Iraq War in 2007-2011 (Payandeh, 2012, p. 358; Zinn & Arnove, 2011, p. 553). Although there are debates regarding the nation’s military actions, the United States’ role of the “policeman” is a significant result of the political tendencies that are followed in the twentieth century, supported with ideas of democracy and humanity, and reflected in interventions in Libya and Iraq as attempts to protect civilians against extremists’ crimes and violations of human rights.

Events in Libya and Iraq as Traced Back to the Foreign Policy Following the Civil War

The United States’ military interventions observed during the past five years demonstrated the necessity of developing the position of the world “policeman” for the nation because the U.S. role is to prevent the progress of extremism, totalitarianism, and terrorism in the world. The situation in Libya in 2011 made the world community fear about the possibilities of spreading the regimes similar to Muammar Gaddafi’s one over the globe.

Therefore, the United States started to play the key role in the coalition including several states that intervened in Libya in 2011 in order to protect civilians and cope with the Gaddafi regime because the United States functioned as protectors of people’s liberties and rights (Payandeh, 2012, p. 358). It seemed impossible to change the regime in Libya and guarantee the political progress without the participation of external forces. Furthermore, in 2014, following the ideas of humanity and democracy, the United States started one more intervention in Iraq in order to protect civilians from the aggressive actions of the organized Islamic State (Katzman, 2014, p. 4). However, the problem is in the fact that any military interventions are always ambiguous because the rights of civilians need to be won and stated by means of soldiers’ lives.

The Historic Factors Leading to the United States’ Rise as a World Policeman

In spite of dilemmas associated with the idea of the military intervention and the U.S. role of world “policeman”, it is possible to identify the aspects of the U.S. history that have influenced the current rise of the country as the world protector of people’s rights. Since the 19th century, the United States developed and strengthened its position as the superpower. The turning point was the Industrial Revolution that accentuated the idea of transformation for success and demonstrated the U.S. potential for the economic progress. As a result, thousands of migrants began to perceive the country as the place where the people are economically and socially protected (Schultz, 2014, p. 349; Zinn, 2010, p. 124).

This belief became stronger after World War I, when the U.S. authorities accentuated the significant political role of the country in the world while formulating the Treaty of Versailles, and they focused on the role of the country as a liberating force that could spread values of democracy and make more people secure in the context of the problematic post-war situation (Schultz, 2014, p. 366-367).

Furthermore, Roosevelt’s activities added to strengthening the international image of the United States as the super power after the first successes of the New Deal (Schultz, 2014, p. 405). In this context, the United States tenaciously moved to a kind of international domination and was ready to take responsibility for the order in the world.

The United States’ Policing Role since World War II

After World War II, the United States made several attempts to act as a “policeman” in the world community, and these attempts were both successful and weak. The Bay of Pigs Invasion can be discussed as an example of the weak operation that failed because of the poor planning (Schultz, 2014, p. 454). The other try to oppose the totalitarian regime and impact of the Soviet Union was the Vietnam War that provoked a lot of debates in the U.S. community (Palmer, 2007, p. 173; Schultz, 2014, p. 464). The involvement of the United States in the Cuban crisis and the Vietnam War was explained with the necessity to promote the principles and ideals of democracy against the corrupted notions of the totalitarianism and the Soviet Union’s propaganda (Zinn & Arnove, 2011, p. 400).

However, the late part of the 20th century showed that the United States also needed to act as the protectors of human rights in the Middle Eastern conflicts. The participation of the United States in the Persian Gulf War aimed to resolve a range of economic and military problems (Schultz, 2014, p. 502). The Iraq War in 2007-2011 was also based on different economic, political, and ideological grounds, but acting as the super power, the United States still promoted their own visions of democracy in the Middle East (Schultz, 2014).

Driving Forces Influencing the International Policy Decisions

Why did the United States choose to take determined and critical actions while deciding on the international incidents and possibilities of military interventions? The answer to this question is associated with the discussion of driving forces that fueled the United States’ struggle against extremism and violation of human rights in the world. The establishment of the Castro regime in Cuba and the development of the Cold War were the main reasons to declare the fact that the Soviet Union pretended to take the role of the world dominant power (Schultz, 2014, p. 454; Zinn & Arnove, 2011, p. 345).

The Cold War was in progress, and it was important to react to the Tonkin Gulf incident with President Johnson’s resolutions oriented to increasing the U.S. military support in Vietnam (Schultz, 2014, p. 462). The active participation of the United States in the crises in the Middle East was also caused by a range of military and political threats to the nation and to the whole world community. Saddam Hussein’s activities and expansion of the extremists’ ideas in Iraq could lead to the disproportional distribution of forces in the Middle East in the 1990s (Schultz, 2014, p. 502).

The similar, but most crucial problem was associated with the change of the regime in Iraq and threats of connection between Iraq leaders and bin Laden (Schultz, 2014, p. 524). The United States was again oriented to creating the democratic state in the context of the Middle Eastern reality that could be ruled according to the U.S. norms, and these attempts led to the prolonged war and to the rises of more war opponents’ movements in the country.


In spite of the fact that the need for the world “policeman” is accentuated and supported with the outcomes of World War I and World War II, the United States’ approach to resolving the problem is rather controversial in this context. On the one hand, the actions of the U.S. authorities regarding the military interventions seem to be reasonable and supported with the focus on protecting the civilians’ rights and promoting the fundamental freedoms and ideals of democracy.

On the other hand, the military interventions in Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, demonstrate that there are few means other than weapons that can be used in order to resolve the problematic political situations. In this context, the United States as the super power and the policeman of the world needs to orient to finding more peaceful or diplomatic ways for resolving conflicts and assisting civilians in the situations when the war can only worsen the crisis. From this point, although there are few peaceful means to oppose the Islamic State today, it is important to focus on finding the most effective tools to protect the life and security of civilians in the region because the United States has such power.


Katzman, K. (2014). The “Islamic State” crisis and U.S. policy. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

Palmer, M. G. (2007). The case of Agent Orange. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 29(1), 172–195.

Payandeh, M. (2012). The United Nations, military intervention, and regime change in Libya. Virginia Journal of International Law, 52(2), 355-400.

Schultz, K. M. (2014). HIST: U.S. history since 1865, volume 2. Chicago, IL: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Zinn, H. (2010). A people’s history of the United States. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Zinn, H., & Arnove, A. (2011). Voices of a people’s history of the United States. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press.

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