Waddling down H Street, five blocks from the United States Capitol, an out of breath woman cases a white Mazda Miata. To some she is the ‘meter maid,’ in title she is a Parking Officer for the Department of Public Works. She jots down the license plate number on a citation before snuggling it between windshield and wiper. She remains emotionless and stoic throughout the process, even as people fling insults out their windows in a drive by manner. Undoubtedly, the officer and her colleagues are employees of the most hated arm of the local DC government. Yet they unwaveringly carry out their duties despite the lack of respect they garner. Even if we all just throw the tickets away in the end.
The United States has become the global meter maid, writing citations to Russia for illegally parking in Crimea and an expired meter outside Eastern Ukraine. Like everyone else, Putin has thrown all the tickets in his kitchen drawer alongside the collection of pencils and bendy straws.
The world does not need a meter maid, it has the UN and NATO for that. What the world needs, and is outright begging for, is the Unites States to re-deputize itself as the ever unpopular world police.
Global instability has fermented at an incredible rate this year, the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The slap on the wrist sanctions put in place by President Obama’s foreign policy are not an effective deterrent. Furthermore, his attempts to influence the Europeans to partake in that same foreign policy of sending crippling blows to the already fragile Russian economy are coming up short.
Russia is for all intents and purposes, playing dumb and minimizing its attempts to take advantage of global turmoil. Their actions are at the core of our current day crises, and offer the substance for global conflict yearning for a catalyst.
The question is what will act as a catalyst? Will the conflict in Gaza will be the straw that breaks the camel's back, or is flight MH17 the modern day assassination of Franz Ferdinand? It truly is hard to make these assertions, yet everyone will continue to do so.
“Putin may actually light a fire that he loses control over.” Said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey at the Aspen Security Forum last Thursday. Gen. Dempsey made headlines after his comments condemning Putin
Gen. Dempsey underscored the threat that is Russian expansion during this tumultuous time by drawing similar historic citations.
“You’ve got a Russian government that has made a conscious decision to use its military force inside another sovereign nation to achieve its objectives. It’s the first time since 1939 or so that that’s been the case.” Said Gen. Dempsey
Gen. Dempsey is not the first and certainly will not be the last expert to issue stark warnings on Putin and suggestions to the administration on its broken foreign policy. Top officials all over the world are not offering words of comfort but whispering about the imminence of all-out war. Zbigniew Brzeznski, former National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter and highly renowned geopolitical strategist sat down with Foreign Policy's David Rothkopf to talk about the climate for global conflict and ways to mitigate such a risk.
“...basically, we are now moving into a G-2 world.” stated Brzeznski.
The notion that actors, mainly Russia and the EU, have rendered themselves incapable of making meaningful progress to mitigate global instability and embolden the Chinese to take a more active role in international development. The end goal, forcing Putin and the rest of Russia to make nice with Europe as their neighbor, China, joins the world police force.
“The relations between China and some of its immediate neighbors that have long felt threatened by China's presence, but they have to accommodate to the reality that China is going to be there forever.” Said Brzezinski.
Yet we find ourselves in a de facto cold war with the Chinese, repelling cyber-attacks and encouraging smaller nations to stand up against their expansion in the South China Sea. China, however capable, is fiercely interested soley in the expansion of their economy and little else. The idea of them pinning on a sheriff’s badge is idealistic, and in many cases a scary notion considering the Chinese moral code over the years has evolved within an economically driven vacuum.
Before things get worse, as many strategists predict they will, the United States needs to put its foot down. The unprecedented global turmoil comes at an awful time for the United States. The American government and its people are exhausted from two intensely elongated and scarring wars at the same time experiencing an optimistically rebounding economy in uncharted waters. We don’t want to play world police but we need to.
The world does not need another meter maid, it needs America to assume the job it once had and seemingly was created for. To take back the once strong foreign policy stance it possessed. It needs Uncle Sam to ditch the utility belt and citation pad for his badge and gun.