Ball, George W.
July 1969
Foreign Affairs;Jul1969, Vol. 47 Issue 4, p623
This article focuses on the role of the U.S. in maintaining international security and world peace. Someone is always devising a slogan or aphorism to dispose of an idea that is too complex for facile solution. The U.S. is not the world's policeman, although, of course, we should resist temptations to backslide into isolationism. It is unfair that we should have to carry more than our share of the burdens, yet at the same time we must be fully prepared to halt aggression against free nations wherever it occurs. What all this quite accurately suggests is a country no longer sure of its role in the world, yet unable to redefine it in a satisfactory manner while the easy answers of the past no longer furnish their ancient comfort. We should have learned by now that this rhetoric is quite hollow whenever the U.S. and the Soviet Union are aligned on opposite sides of a serious issue, as is true in almost all situations that even marginally touch the balance of world power. More disturbing is the challenge to its powers and purposes that has recently marked the Arab-Israeli crisis. Today, the achievement of stability in the Middle East ranks high on the list of priorities. For the U.S., as well as for the Soviet Union, the strategic significance of that area exceeds that of the Southeast Asian peninsula by a factor of four or five. For the U.S. government to join in trying to shape such a settlement involves the assumption of grave commitments and responsibilities in connection with the guarantees required for its enforcement.


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