Should America Be the World's Cop? What Do You Think?

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Why you should care

Because we could be entering a new era of American influence.

Join us for Third Rail With OZY, a new TV show presented by OZY and WGBH, where we debate provocative hot topics with experts and celebrities every Friday night. The subject of this week’s show: “Should America Be the World’s Cop?” Tune in Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET on PBS, or online, and be sure to weigh in on social media (#ThirdRailPBS) and/or email us at thirdrail@ozy.com with your take!

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In 1904, Teddy Roosevelt declared that the United States would, at times, “exercise international police power in ‘flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence’” in the Western Hemisphere. More than a century later, America has exercised that power in all corners of the globe, with or without allies, for all sorts of reasons — blocking genocide, halting communism, hunting terrorists. The U.S. now has an estimated 800 bases in more than 70 countries.

President Donald Trump was elected on an “America First” platform, and he campaigned on skepticism of America’s overseas entanglements. So far, though, he’s increased the number of troops in Afghanistan and tried to boost the Pentagon’s budget. While Trump, in his first speech at the United Nations this week, said, “We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone,” he also vowed to “reject threats to sovereignty, from the [sic] Ukraine to the South China Sea.”

Proponents of a U.S.-led world order say a robust presence helps keep the world relatively stable while also helping American businesses prosper abroad. Critics blanch at the large taxpayer expense and say America sticking its nose where it does not belong has disastrous results — like the ruin of Vietnam and the rise of anti-American terrorism.

What do you think? Is Uncle Sam a worthy global policeman? Let us know by emailing thirdrail@ozy.com or by answering in the comments below.

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