The rise of mid-sized menaces in world politics is a direct result of the United States’ abrogation of its role as the world’s policeman, the world’s supercop.
Last August, the head of the U.S. Aid Program visited Ethiopia. Her request for a meeting with the country’s prime minister was ignored. That would never have happened before Trump squandered U.S. credibility as a world leader. Virtually no country would have dared ignore such an official, and certainly not a mid-sized country in desperate need of international support. And this is not the only example of the “mid-sized” world acting as if the U.S. is irrelevant any more.
I am not reporting on this turn of events to cry over Trump’s destruction of the U.S. image and credibility abroad, or to sanctimoniously pontificate over the magnanimous United States in a “how could they do this to us when we are the world’s shining light” attitude that seems to be evident in Washington. I am reporting on it as a very dangerous direction of world-wide political ambitions, when there is no “supercop” to keep those ambitions under control. It may be unfortunate, but it is a many-times-proven concept that we need a world’s policeman if we are to maintain a semblance of world security and predictability.
Britain held that role for a long time before ceding it to the United States after World War II, but the U.S. has never really embraced the reality of the role or its responsibility. The majority of the U.S. population could care less about anything outside of U.S. borders. Indeed, most could care less about anything outside their own state. I won’t even go into the level of ignorance the U.S. population has about the rest of the world. It is a disgrace to the education system that generally believes it’s the best in the world. Trump, in an unfortunate way, merely represented the feelings/state of ignorance of the majority of the U.S. electorate in pushing America First. Certainly, any U.S. politician who wants to be elected would almost never refer to anything international during an election campaign. It would be an almost certain kiss of death.
So, why is this supercop vacuum important for world stability and why is it important that the U.S. wake up and reestablish its inherited role?
History has shown that someone will always emerge to take on the role of supercop, whether it’s through benign regard for the world’s benefit (I am joking), through blatant territorial acquisition goals, or even world domination dreams.
The only current candidates for the supercop role are China and Russia, with China leading the race. As far as the U.S. is concerned, one is reminded of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Do we really want to contemplate China as the world’s policeman?
In case you think I am exaggerating, I will give you a few examples of the growing number of countries that are mid-sized menaces
- Turkey has occupied a chunk of Syria, sent troops to Libya, helped Azerbaijan vanquish Armenia and has dispatched its navy to support dubious claims to Mediterranean waters.
- Iran has backed militias that prop up Syria’s despot, that have a chokehold on Lebanon, and that were recently accused of trying to murder Iraq’s prime minister.
- Pakistan has helped the Taliban take over Afghanistan. A move that may well come back to haunt them.
- Cuba currently trains Venezuelan spies, who are then sent to work for Nicolás Maduro.
- Belarus has transported migrants to the Polish border, given them the tools to smash through the border fence and told them if they come back to Belarus they will be shot. All this as a weapon against the Western sanctions imposed on its regime.
- Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen.
None of this is good for world security, and it opens up an opportunity for Russia and China to exploit the situation for their own dreams. I have often stated that sending a U.S. Carrier Task Force as a “gentle” reminder of U.S. policing capability, and power, would be a good start to reestablishing its credibility in the world. There are eleven such carrier task forces, so there are plenty to go around. All it needs is vision and nerve. And, while the U.S. Government is at it, it should institute a massive restructuring of the U.S. education system to convince its citizens that they are part of this world, and they had better get used to the idea, understand it and embrace it. Failure on any of those strategies could well be catastrophic for all of our futures. The meddling of mid-sized menaces can be contained, but they are a good indicator of the world policing vacuum.