I have always thought that the rest of the world does not owe the United States favors. Rather, the U.S. owes the rest of the world. Wealthier countries have a privilege and responsibility to look after those countries with less. Less what? Gross domestic product? Democracy? Obviously, the United States does not have a stellar record as an outstanding Samaritan, or really any record of comradeship in anything less than a mutually beneficial situation. Yet, it should be noted that there is a fine line between responsibility for others and the concept of the United States as a global “policeman.”
The self-proclaimed title of “world police” engenders resentment from other countries because many question the authority of a developed country that cannot even educate, heal, and prevent bankrupting the masses. There is also the issue that intervening in a global problem comes with the risk of backlash, whether we take military action or not. For me, the word ‘intervene’ invokes the picture of a parent breaking up a petty squabble between two children over the TV remote. Why the United States has fallen into the self-appointed role of parent seems to be a question of self-righteousness.
The role of policeman is not something the U.S. has stumbled upon. It was a deliberate decision that has shaped our domestic view as well as the attitudes of the international community. The parent cannot also be a cohort; the kids do not make the rules, and there are clearly set lines between the duties of the children and the parents. Acting as both world police and diplomat will not get the U.S., or anyone else who tries, very far. Deliberate though our choice was to take on the role of world policeman, making an equally deliberate choice to let our kids grow up to view the world as a collective group of equally important nations that are dependant on each other is a crucial step towards diplomacy for all nations. The cooperation demanded of a diplomat means equality between nations. If the U.S. wants to have a hand in making the rules, we must accept a certain level of responsibility that means letting go the self-appointed roles we have assigned ourselves and accepting a higher level of responsibility; that which is cooperation.
Diplomacy is a word that is thrown around a lot, and the “diplomatic route” seems to be synonymous with “weak.” Discussion is overrated, and why try talking it out now when we have drones the size of mosquitoes? Diplomacy is not easy for some when so many countries have differing ideologies, values and issues.
I would like to say that we live in a civilized world where people could rationally hear what others have to say, but for many societies, including the United States, that is a long time coming. Writing off diplomacy for these reasons is not a viable excuse, and communication (or lack thereof) can either be the source of good relationships or the beginning of a war. The responsibility the United States owes to the world is not intervention, but cooperation and a more holistic worldview. The policeman must be replaced by the mediator, diplomat, and collectivist.