Michael Auslin wants the U.S. to police the world for generations to come:
That, in turn, requires the United States to accept some kind of permanent war footing to prevent attacks on American soil and against American targets abroad. Moreover, Washington will regularly find itself involved in some manner in areas where there appears to be no direct threat to U.S. interests [bold mine-DL], since in a globalized world Americans cannot isolate themselves from terrorist threats unless they wish to curtail their investment, trading and traveling abroad. Like ancient Rome, America in the 21st century will have to man the frontiers for generations [bold mine-DL], accepting the draining costs of doing so (costs, it must be noted, that are physical and psychic for our service members, not just fiscal for taxpayers).
This is an appalling vision of America’s future role in the world, but it has the virtue of being refreshingly direct and honest about what Auslin means by “global order.” It means constant conflict for the U.S. for decades to come with no end in sight, and it means that the U.S. will be engaged in wars that truly have nothing to do with U.S. security. Even in a “globalized world,” there are some threats that aren’t directed at the U.S. and won’t affect our security, but Auslin wants us to make those our business as well. Instead of not going abroad in search of monsters to destroy, Auslin proposes that the U.S. be perpetually on patrol looking for even the slightest hint of disorder.
This is the third recent argument I’ve read that absurdly argues that the conduct of U.S. foreign policy should imitate “broken windows” policing, and this never makes any sense. Here’s what Auslin means by it:
When the United States chooses to ignore China’s coercion of the Philippines over disputed shoals, it encourages further attempts to take over territory. U.S. and NATO inaction in the face of Russia’s intervention in Crimea led to the loss of that territory to Moscow, and emboldened Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. American dithering clearly encouraged Putin’s aggressive opportunism, and now the risks of getting involved are greater than before.
In the future, a response can be attempted by quickly providing crucial intelligence, training foreign militaries, supplying vital (and lethal) military equipment, offering immediate economic aid, and placing U.S. (or NATO) forces as peacekeepers in threatened territory. A global broken-windows policy seeks to lower the possibility of future conflict by accepting more risk upfront in order to alter adversaries’ calculations and perceptions of the security environment.
Put another way, this involves taking dangerous and unnecessary actions in territorial disputes involving Russia and China that risk triggering a major war. The risks of involvement aren’t any greater later on than they are at the beginning, but they are a bit more obvious. By “accepting more risk upfront,” Auslin means inserting the U.S. into disputes and conflicts involving other major powers in a way that is bound to alarm the other governments and potentially commit the U.S. to unnecessary wars with them. It also doesn’t occur to Auslin that by openly taking sides in such disputes could encourage the ally or client to behave recklessly. If the U.S. gets in the habit of misleading allies and clients into believing that they have some sort of blank check from Washington, that could also end up causing a war that could otherwise be avoided. It doesn’t matter to Auslin that American security isn’t at stake in any of these disputes, because he wants to redefine the purpose of U.S. foreign policy to be one of defending poorly-defined “frontiers” all over the world in perpetuity. That is a completely unacceptable and unsustainable role for the U.S. in the world. The U.S. needs to be finding ways to reduce its commitments around the world instead of embracing foolish schemes for perpetual war.