After World War II, the United States used its newfound influence in world politics to promote peace while containing the influence of its similarly powerful counterpart, the Soviet Union. With that said, it frequently overreached, which led to conflicts such as the Vietnam War and, more recently, the invasions of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and others. Many of these efforts have led to the destabilization of the regions where the nation was involved rather than peace, and some organizations, such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, retaliated against the U.S. with terror attacks. Internally, the nation has been struggling, as well, exemplified by 2020 and the numerous violent protests that took place after the death of George Floyd. To understand how to address these issues, it is first necessary to determine what problems the U.S. currently faces in maintaining peace, both domestically and internationally.
Internally, issues of peace are becoming increasingly politically aligned in the United States. Last year’s rioting has been largely supported by Democratic politicians and condemned by their Republican counterparts, including the then-president Donald Trump. The narrative from the supporters of the protests was that they were the natural result of enduring inequality and discrimination, with the alleged murder of George Floyd serving as an example. Conversely, those opposing the actions claimed that these problems were not as severe as the other side claimed, pointing to evidence suggesting Floyd’s death was not a murder. Over time, these ideological differences compounded, with each side accusing the other of cruelty, corruption, violence, and overall being a threat to the nation. Without de-escalation of this hostile narrative, the retention of internal peace will be challenging, if not impossible.
Internationally, the United States has been struggling with the consequences of its military failures. Maurer et al. (2020) highlight its efforts in Syria as an example, as its efforts to overthrow Assad’s government failed and led to prolonged violence as well as the emergence of ISIS due in part due to anti-American sentiment spurring recruitment. Regions such as the Middle East have also been experiencing tensions for a considerable time, with nations such as Iran asserting their local power and Israel’s hostility with Islamic nations over issues such as Palestine. Maull (2018) claims that these problems are the result of the U.S. failing to adapt to changing circumstances and contexts, relying on financial aid and military force to cover problems up instead of resolving them. Donald Trump’s policy of attempting to remove U.S. forces and promote internal peace in the region may have been more effective, as demonstrated by the signing of the Abraham Accords. With that said, the situation is still far from being resolved, and many issues, such as the protection of cooperators, complicate the approach of simply removing U.S. influence from contested regions.
Overall, the United States appears to be facing significant issues in maintaining peace, both internally and internationally. Domestically, it has developed dangerous and divisive narratives that have already led to violence, notably over 2020. As it permeates politics from the ground level to the highest offices of the government, de-escalation is necessary to minimize the likelihood of outbreaks of violence such as that of the George Floyd riots. Internationally, the U.S. appears to have indulged in military intervention excessively without achieving the desired results. It is now entangled in many areas, and has created situations where its presence causes harm, but a careless removal of its influence would lead to damage, as well. A solution is currently unclear, and in both situations, it appears that slow and careful steps are necessary to achieve solutions that satisfy all parties.
French, D. (2020). Divided we fall: America’s secession threat and how to restore our nation. St. Martin’s Publishing Group.
Maull, H. W. (Ed.). (2018). The rise and decline of the post-Cold War international order. Oxford University Press.
Maurer, D., Beehner, L., & Brooks, R. (Eds.). (2020). Reconsidering American civil-military relations: The military, society, politics, and modern war. Oxford University Press.