Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 03:57 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 03:57 | SYDNEY

US: Less policeman than referee


Andrew Carr


4 March 2011 11:30

Foreign Policy's David Bosco notes the release of the Review of Global Peace Operations by the New York University Center on International Cooperation:

The report provides a vivid reminder that UN peacekeeping is, for the most part, an activity done in Africa (almost 75 percent of UN military personnel are deployed there), by Africans and Asians (combined, more than 70 percent of peacekeepers come from these regions), and funded by the advanced industrialized countries (all told, these countries pay more than 80 percent of peackeeping costs)

While most of the talk about a UN-sponsored intervention in Libya has focused on US willingness to provide troops and planes, many other nations can and do provide peacekeepers. Yet we keep defaulting to discussing the US because of the idea it is the world's policeman. The left promotes the idea because it implies US control (and responsibility) for most of the world's ills. The right, because they believe only the US acts while others talk, and because, occasionally, they'd like it to be true.

But, as critical as US leadership is, its role is closer to that of a referee, occasionally banishing players and causing pain, but more often simply directing the play and being looked to by others for guidance. Knocking down the myth of US-as-world's-policeman would go a long way to improving discussions of applying R2P and humanitarian interventions to crisis situations.

Photo by Flickr user Jonathan_W