Teddy Roosevelt and “Chronic Wrongdoing”

During the glory days of United States power in the Caribbean President Teddy Roosevelt said the following when faced with instability and violence in our region.

” Chronic wrongdoing may ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere, however reluctantly, the adherence of the United States to the exercise of an international police power.”

With the United States fighting a war in Afghanistan and still with a major presence in Iraq, South Korea and other outposts around the world, President Obama cannot be a modern day Teddy Roosevelt and respond to chronic wrongdoing in Libya ( or anywhere else for that matter) by acting like a global policeman.

The United States is experiencing what is commonly called military overstretch, quite simply we are just spread too thin militarily around the world to the point where  this country cannot afford in blood and treasure another intervention.

Moreover, the American people, despite the pleas of some in Congress that we establish a no fly zone to shut down Gaddafi, are not interested in expanding our police power.

The United States has entered a time as a world power where this country can no longer use its military muscle to change events or leaders. We still can talk tough and impose economic and diplomatic sanctions, but the days of invading Iraq by the two Bush presidents and staying on in Afghanistan by Obama are now not part of our long term international strategy.

Political leaders now realize that we cannot spend billions and billions on foreign interventions or lose thousands on new battlefields. It is not that the United States is powerless- we still have the world’s best military. Rather it is that domestic politics have changed, espeically the support from the American people, and of course the huge national debt.

Candidates running for President in 2012 will most likely talk about restraint rather than intervention and unlike Teddy Roosevelt will ignore chronic wrongdoing around the world.

Sure we could proably help the rebels in Libya and bring down Gaddafi, but at what cost? We could lose pilots, we could create more anti-Americanism in the Middle East and most importantly we would be extending our military overstretch even more. So no more Teddy Roosevelt-style presidents talking about international police power to respond to chronic wrongdoing.

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2 Responses to Teddy Roosevelt and “Chronic Wrongdoing”

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