We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
But who would? World policeman requires resources (sea power, air lift, etc) in rather scarce supply. The Chinese might be able to intervene where they choose in within a two day sail yet could they send a light infantry brigade to say Chile or Zanzibar?
FWIW, I reject being a world policeman in favor of intervening only when American interests are threatened (piracy, terrorism, etc) otherwise "you leave me alone, I'll leave you alone", diplomacy.
I think it is wrong to think of it as the world's policeman. Police are operating within a clear legal framework in a defined system, that isn't the situation. It is more like a playground when the teachers aren't around, and the question is as the biggest kid out there (1) how much shit to we put up with out of bullies and (2) how do we avoid being a bully ourselves.
I think the biggest problem is our fear about the second point, by trying to hold to a "proportional" response we drag things out and wind up getting more people killed than if we stomped the shit out of the bullies with the intent of ending the encounter and the unacceptable behavior as quickly as possible.
I note that China and Putin are interested in that job. European nations are going to have to rebuild their armies, stop and reverse Muslim immigration, or disappear from the world, to be remembered only in history books. Which they will NOT write, or be able to write.
I believe the USA qua 'World Policeman' will continue to fade.
1) I don't see how we will have a coherent foreign policy for the foreseeable future. Even if the next POTUS implements a tough, interventionist foreign policy, what about the POTUS after that? A US foreign policy can only have a length of 8 years max before the next POTUS comes in and turns it upside down.
Look at our our track record.
Since Truman decided wars weren't worth winning, our 'limited engagements' have not been very successful. Even if the military does its job, a new administration eventually comes in and throws the gains away, so why get involved in the first place?
2) It might just be me, but I don't see any groundswell for American involvement overseas from either the Left or the Right. There is indeed a percentage of repubs that want to continue to deploy troops to every hotspot in the world, but there are many in the GOP who don't.
The cultural divide is so deep that consensus on future deployments will be very hard to achieve.
Let's not forget changing demographics. Does anyone think these 10s of millions of new immigrants care about America's interests around the world? And they'll all be voting some day.
3) Our politicians have learned that "kicking the can down the road" is a sound strategy for political self-preservation. Why commit troops to a far away land when there is no imminent threat to the USA and risk blowback at the polls should events turn sour?
4) We are printing money at an alarming rate. We will have to print even more money to sustain future foreign adventures. Can we have a show of hands from those of you that are for printing more money?
5) Our ruling masters:
Many of our ruling masters have lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong, good vs evil. Commitments may well have to fit 'The Narrative'. We are better off staying home rather than having such people committing troops overseas.
In summary, I believe Stephens is right, but the USA that was capable of that type of foreign policy is gone.