Donald Trump the presidential candidate made it very clear that his view was that the United States can no longer police thje world. President Trump, by contrast, appears to laying out US foreign policy to do that now more than ever.
In the ultimate expression of the “world’s policeman” stance of the US, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared today that the United States was prepared to punish all those “who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world.”
The context of Tillerson’s comments was a speech at a memorial to a Nazi massacre, but the broadness of the declaration clearly was intended to go far beyond simply being a reiteration of the US justification for intervention against Nazi Germany in World War 2.
For one, the comment comes just a few days after the United States attacked Syria, over US allegations of a “gas attack” carried out by the Syrian government, but before any sort of international investigation could be carried out on the claims.
It also comes amid growing US talk about further intervention against Syria on other pretexts, including some very confusing messages about US intervention if Syria continues to use barrel bombs, and threats to punish Russia if they continue to support the Syrian government against US-backed rebels.
Naturally, the US doesn’t literally intend to punish crimes against civilians “anywhere in the world,” as they plainly have no intention of punish Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen, or the Egypt junta for its violent crackdowns against pro-democracy protesters.
But laying it out as a formal statement of policy at all clearly is intended to raise expectations for more US intervention wherever it strikes the administration’s fancy. While in the near term this likely means more attacks on Syria, it also can be used to attack other countries around the world, with US ships steaming toward North Korea as we speak.