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U.S. stays in the Gulf, regardless of debate over being “world’ policeman”: Kuni Miyake

  • December 10, 2020
  • , Sankei , p. 9
  • JMH Translation

By Kuni Miyake, research director at the Canon Institute for Global Research


Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it will pull the majority of U.S. forces out of Somalia and relocate them by Jan. 15, 2021. The Japanese media described the move as an attempt by U.S. President Donald Trump to fulfill his campaign pledge to reduce the U.S. military’s overseas deployments.


Some so-called experts in Japan explain that President Trump is finally jettisoning America’s role as “the policeman of the world,” after former President Barack Obama declared in 2013 that his country abandoned the role adopted by former President Bill Clinton. These “experts” also claim that the recent shale revolution has enabled the U.S. to achieve energy independence and, consequently, reduce its military presence in the Middle East.


Obama never said the U.S. is quitting being the world’s policeman


Obama merely said when deciding on a military strike against Syria’s Assad that although the U.S. is not the policeman of the world, it should still act to protect children from Assad’s chemical weapons. He never said the U.S. was exiting the role of world’s policeman.


Did Clinton adopt the role of global cop?


The definition of “policeman of the world” is vague. If it refers to the U.S. overseas interventions since the end of Cold War, then there were many examples before Clinton became president, including the Gulf War. In this sense, the U.S. is still acting as “the policeman of the world.”


Is the U.S. energy independent?


The U.S. became a net oil exporter in the second half of 2019, but it became a net importer again from May to June this year. Even though the shale revolution has increased the supply of U.S. energy, U.S. energy exports fell off as the global demand for energy dropped. Complete energy independence is hard to achieve.


Who is preventing U.S. military from leaving overseas bases?


U.S. military officials oppose reducing the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East, because the power vacuum left behind would destabilize the region. Twenty-five hundred U.S. troops are scheduled to depart from both Iraq and Afghanistan. Most belong to special counterterrorism units or units that train local recruits. A further reduction of forces in the Middle East would send the wrong signal to opponents of the U.S.


Who are the U.S. forces in the Gulf protecting?


Even President Trump doesn’t mention reducing the size of the U.S. Marine contingent in Bahrain or the U.S. Air Force contingent in Qatar. The U.S. Forces in the Persian Gulf are a deterrence against Iran. If so, then who exactly are these forces protecting? Oil producers in the Gulf? Yes. Israel? Yes. That is not all, however.


The U.S. military in the Gulf is also protecting U.S. allies in East Asia, although the Japanese people are not aware of that.


Having no oil fields nearby, East Asia is very dependent on oil and natural gas from the Gulf region. The sea lanes that connect the Gulf and East Asia have been protected by the Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka and the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. If the U.S. withdrew the Fifth Fleet, energy supplies to Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines would be at risk. Without the U.S. protection of the sea lanes, the alliance would weaken.


Meanwhile, the U.S. would be unable to counter China without the cooperation of East Asian allies. In order for the U.S. to maintain its presence in the Asia-Pacific, it must continue its military deployment in the Gulf. The decision to continue to do so is not based on economic logic. Rather It is the result of geopolitical needs. A U.S. departure from the Gulf would signal the end of its commitment to Asia.

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