United States Foreign Policy: Policemen of the World

United States foreign policy and status of policemen of the world

The United States foreign policy has a strong impact on the world. US foreign policy changes from time to time depending on the political position of the person elected as US president, whether Democrat or Republican, and of the party that is in power. The involvement of the US in world affairs in the form of combatting global terrorism, promoting human rights, and ousting dictatorial regimes from power have led to the branding of the United States ‘the policemen of the world.’

To understand the role of United States of America in the global map, this paper analysis the events, aspects and incidents of the United States and her foreign policy that have contributed to the country’s emergence as the policemen of the world.

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United States Foreign Policy Interventions around the World

Several incidents involving the United States military and its operations in the world can be traced to United States foreign policy. The involvement of the American military in the Libyan revolution that ousted the former president of Libya, Muammar Gaddhafi was influenced by the United States foreign policy on protecting human rights in the world.

Similarly, the presence of the United States military in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East was influenced by the American foreign policy of maintaining global peace through counter terrorism. United States of America’s military is also involved in patrolling international waters around the world to keep them safe from piracy (Dunne, 1998).

The rise of the United States to the status of the world’s policemen is a result of various factors in the American history. First, the constitution of America and the declaration of independence gave American’s freedom and a strong attachment to democracy since the United States was founded. Since then the country, like a policeman of the world, has been in the forefront of enforcing the rule of law and democracy in the world.

The  American civil war forms part of the unifying factors of the United States. Having survived the civil war, the United States of America came out stronger than majority of other nations in the world at that time. This gave the country a strong position in global affairs. World War 1 and WW2 also contributed significantly to America’s rise as the super policemen of the world. America was not affected much by the World wars when compared to Europe. As a result, the United States became the leading economic power in the world. This gave the United States a voice and a responsibility in global affairs.

The United States economy continues to be the largest in the world. Industrialization in the country and the diversification of the United States economy has also provided America with enough resources to take care of its domestic issues and further oversee and influence global affairs (Mead, 2013). 

United States Foreign Policy, Military Involvement and War

Since World War II, the United States foreign policy of influencing global affairs has been evident in various incidents of military involvement and war. The first example of United States world policing is the Vietnam War in 1945-1954. America’s involvement in the Vietnam war was based on its foreign policy of controlling the spread of communism in the world. The United States supported South Vietnam in the war against a North Vietnam that was predominantly communist.

Another incident is the Somali civil war in 1991 where the United States involvement was fueled by its foreign policy of maintaining global peace. Moreover, the United States got involved in the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war in its fight against terrorism and the development of weapons of mass destruction. Although no such weapons were found in Iraq as claimed by the US, the United States justified its military involvement in Iraq on the basis of its foreign policy and ‘world policeman’ responsibility of fighting global terrorism. 

The most recent example of the United States as a policeman of the world is the American involvement in signing of the Iran nuclear deal, which was influenced by the United States foreign policy of controlling the manufacture and use of nuclear weapons in the world (O’Connor, 2010). Currently, America is involved in a confrontation with the Chinese government over the Chinese occupation of the Southern China Sea. The United States also confronted Russia over its annexation of Crimea. These are recent incidences where America has pursued its foreign policy of protecting international boundaries.

One of the key factors that have fueled United States foreign policy is concern over the spread of communism in the world. This justified America’s participation in the Vietnam War. In the Somali civil war of 1991, America was aiding the United Nations as part of its global peacekeeping mandate. The United States has also been involved in several other world policing incidents by aiding the United Nation’s peacekeeping missions, especially in Africa and Middle East.

United States Self Interest Policies

Other factors influencing the United States foreign policy are the need to protect the country’s interests and to keep the country internally safe from external threats, especially the threats of terrorism and nuclear attacks. United States elections also play a significant role in shaping the country’s foreign policy. United States foreign policy is also influenced by the elected US president and the priorities of the sitting government because the American constitution gives the president power to control foreign policy.

In addition, protecting the American economy also plays a crucial role in influencing United States foreign policy. Being a large consumer of oil, America is directly involved in major oil conflicts especially inside the territories of oil producing countries (Lindsay, & O’Hanlon, 2001).

Worth noting is the fact that the United States role as the policemen of the world has made it a direct target of terrorism. The country spends a significant amount of its budget in enforcing its foreign policy of maintaining world peace, hence the tag ‘world policemen.’ However, much more of the United States budget is spent on protecting itself from terrorism threats, both internal and external, in terms of recruiting and training policemen and military personnel, improving its military equipment and technology, and intelligence gathering.

In conclusion, United States foreign policy has a significant contribution to the country’s involvement in world affairs. Although most of the actions that amount to being the policemen of the world are meant to protect United States interests, the country has done a commendable job in keeping the world safe, promoting human rights, and maintaining democracy in the world, despite the few incidents of failed operations and criticism from opponents.


O’Connor, B. (Ed.). (2010). American Foreign Policy Traditions. Sage Publications.

Dunne, M. (1998). The history and historiography of American diplomacy: principles, traditions and values. International Affairs74(1), 165-183.

Lindsay, J. M., & O’Hanlon, M. E. (2001). Defending America. Brookings Institution Press.

Mead, W. R. (2013). Special providence: American foreign policy and how it changed the world. Routledge.