“The United States can not continue to be the policeman of the world,” US President Donald Trump told Al-Assad air base during a surprise visit to Iraq for a few hours to meet soldiers Americans with his wife Melania.
Donald Trump no longer wants the United States to continue to engage militarily beyond their borders. But in fact, the Americans keep armed forces in many countries.
Announced withdrawal of US troops from Syria, perhaps also from Afghanistan … According to Donald Trump, it is no longer a question for Americans to support the “burden” of global security. That’s what the US president, on a surprise visit to Iraq Wednesday night, said, confirming on this point the commitment of his predecessor Barack Obama: “The United States can not continue to be the policeman of the world. ”
For the American president, who breaks with a well-established idea for decades, his country should no longer have the vocation to dictate good and bad on the planet. Neither fund conflict “in countries where most people have not even heard of it.”
With this announcement, Donald Trump is faithful to the unilateral strategy that dictates his policy since his election: the exit of the agreements on the climate or on the Iranian nuclear, refusal to sign a joint communique at the end of the G7 … “He swears that by the interests of the United States, so it is not surprising that he also wants to disengage from the world, “Judge Didier Billion, deputy director of the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS).
American bases in many countries
But in fact, US soldiers and bases remain in many countries, such as Africa or Iraq. Some states are even demanding, like Poland, which has said it is ready to partially finance the permanent presence of US military on its soil. Hence the impression of a gap between Trump’s words and deeds.
“The United States has a military capability at least equal to any actor in the world, so they still have the means to be a sheriff of the world who would defend its own interests,” says François Heisbourg, special adviser to the Foundation for Strategic Research.
Basically, a policeman being – in the first sense of the word – the one who upholds the law and the law, an institution like the UN would also aim to establish this role at the world level. But the international organization seems a little paralyzed, as evidenced for example by the successive vetoes of Russia not to sanction his Syrian ally in recent years. And unable to resolve conflicts that have lasted for years, such as in Yemen or Libya.
A new “policeman of the world”?
So, could other countries take advantage of this American disengagement – at least as it appears in Trump’s words – and rush into the breach? “The Western powers are no longer able to make rain and shine because their relationship to the rest of the world has changed,” said Didier Billion.
China, which invests tens of billions of euros in Africa or Europe and wants to acquire an aircraft carrier, is often cited as a possible new “policeman of the world”. “The Chinese want to assert themselves as an essential power but they are still very far from the account to dominate the world economically, culturally, politically and militarily, as the Americans have long claimed,” said the expert.
Same for Turkey, India or Brazil, which remain emerging powers in some areas. And Didier Billion concludes: “In the medium term, no one is in a position to take over from the United States. ”
This expression of “policeman of the world” goes back to the aftermath of the Second World War. On March 12, 1947, US President Harry Truman delivers a grand speech to Congress and says he wants to “support the free people” against the communist bloc. This is the beginning of the Cold War, which marks the definitive end of American isolationism. The great Western ally on the other side of the Atlantic considers that it is in his interest to face the forces of the left everywhere in the world. Left to support dictators, like General Augusto Pinochet in Chile in 1973.
But “this notion of policeman of the world exists also in the eyes of the other countries, reassured to know that they can count on the American support”, estimates the expert François Heisbourg. This was the case, in particular, of European States situated on the borders of the USSR.