The United States Armed Forces currently has more personnel deployed around the world than at any other time since 1950, with the exception of one year at the height of the Vietnam War. Along with current operations in Afghanistan, the U.S. has over 53,000 soldiers in Germany, 36,000 in Japan, 28,000 in South Korea, and thousands more in countries and outposts around the globe.
Is this vast military presence representative of American hegemony and imperialism, or is it the duty of the largest superpower in the world to protect those who may not be able to protect themselves? You may have seen recent commercials like the one below from the U.S. Navy that help bolster the latter argument.
Aside from combat operations, the U.S. military is arguably the only force in the world that is able to react the quickest when it comes to providing humanitarian assistance in the event of a natural disaster. But in the event of a dangerous conflict, such as the tragedy of the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 or even the current uprising in Syria, can and should the U.S. intervene?
Anne-Marie Slaughter, a professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton, says the United States shouldn’t have to be the world’s police force, but rather the United Nations. A “protection brigade” with more teeth than U.N. Peacekeeping Operations might help quell conflicts at the onset and reduce the need to call on U.S. resources in times of need.