ASU Insight: Should the United States be the World’s Policeman?

September 10, 2015

On Thursday, September 10, The McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University hosted the debate at the Burke Theatre at the Navy Memorial, in Washington. The question brought forward was: “Should the United States be the World’s Policeman?” seated panel discussion Should the United States be the World’s policeman? Download Full Image

The debate centered upon the relative strengths and weaknesses of U.S. leadership in the world, and whether U.S. decision makers should use the significant military, economic and diplomatic resources at their disposal to continue shaping and arbitrating events in the international system.



Julianne Smith, Senior Fellow and Director of Strategy Statecraft Program, Center for New American Security

Tom Donnelly, Resident Fellow and Co-Director of the Marilyn Ware Centre for Security Studies


Richard Burt, Chairman of the National Interest Advisory Board

Elizabeth Cobbs, Melbern Glasscock Chair, Texas A&M University

Moderating the debate

Jon Decker, White House Correspondent at Fox News Radio


Arguments in favor of the United States being the world’s policeman:

  • Historical evidence suggests that the United States policing of the world has been an unprecedented success. Since WWII U.S. leadership has brought prosperity and stability to its shores and those of its allies; it was instrumental in rebuilding Europe and containing the Soviet threat throughout the second half of the 20th century. This points to a compelling moral necessity for U.S. leadership.
  • If not the US, then who? The UN and other international organizations have been a largely ineffectual in establishing stability and security. There is no viable alternative without U.S. policing.
  • It is in the national interest to preserve the liberal economic and political order that has been built since 1945. The United States should remain in a global leadership role to prevent emerging threats, especially China and Russia, from challenging it.

Arguments against the United States being the world's policeman:

  • The United States must adapt to changing contexts and stop states from freeriding under its security umbrella. In the post-WWII context there was a clear need for U.S. leadership; it was the only great power with the material capacity to reconstruct a devastated Europe and challenge the imperial visions of the Soviet Union. In 1947 the United States had to ‘jump to the rescue’ and ‘act as umpire’. Today, however, the picture is very different. There are more democracies and fewer conflicts that ever before. The case for U.S. leadership has diminished and regions should assume responsibility for their own security.
  • The United States has suffered from the overextension of its resources and capital. It must begin to scale down its engagement and prioritize between its core and periphery interests.
  • Democracy promotion is a quandary that the United States has stumbled in too often. Since the Cold War, US foreign policy has dealt poorly with civil wars, failed states and peace building. The ability of the United States to arbitrate international events effectively has slipped.
  • The doctrine of liberal intervention is fruitless. Instead of prioritizing hard power, U.S. decision makers should favor diplomacy and soft power. The United States should no longer coerce but persuade.


Julianne Smith highlighted that isolationism is a cyclical occurrence in U.S. foreign policy, and that, ultimately, having the United States in a leadership role is a global interest. Ms. Smith concluded that future policy should reinforce the United States’ unique leadership role. In terms of soft and hard power, the United States should continue to bring innovation, capacity, drive, risk-taking and coalition building.

Thomas Donnelly advocated safeguarding the U.S.-lead liberal order and the values it entails. Mr. Donnelly argued that weakening U.S. leadership is a choice that will compromise this system.

Richard Burt did not challenge the notion of U.S. leadership itself. Instead, he argued that future policy should adhere to a tightly defined national interest. All policy should strictly reflect these national priorities. Ambassador Burt made the point that military force should be considered in conjunction with economic and political priorities.

Elizabeth Cobbs said the United States should aim to be part of a system in which it is not the only pillar guaranteeing order. Dr. Cobbs called for U.S. leadership to share the burden of spreading peace and security with its regional partners.

Ken Fagan

Videographer, ASU News


ASU Art Museum presents first survey of video work by Miguel Angel Rios in ‘Landlocked’ exhibition

September 10, 2015

The ASU Art Museum is pleased to present "Miguel Angel Rios: Landlocked," the first survey of video work by the Mexico City-based artist. The exhibition will be on view Sept. 12 to Dec. 26, 2015 in the Top and Kresge galleries at the ASU Art Museum’s Mill Avenue & 10th Street location in Tempe.

Landlocked follows Rios’ remarkable journey into an artistic practice that addresses issues of power, apathy and violence. Incorporating an innovative use of social and political narratives and original production techniques, the exhibition includes four never-before-seen works commissioned by the museum. Those new works, explains ASU Art Museum curator Julio Cesar Morales, are “very much site-specific and grounded in a new approach to land art. Rios challenges traditional modes of representations within landscape.” Miguel Angel Rios, “Piedras Blancas,” 2014. Still from video. Image courtesy of the artist and Sicardi Gallery. Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Download Full Image

“To date these are the most ambitious and challenging video projects of Rios’ career,” says ASU Art Museum Director Gordon Knox. “Landlocked is an excellent example of the way the ASU Art Museum seeks to support artists that have had a transformative impact on their peers and on subsequent generations.”

In addition to the video installation, a portion of the exhibition is dedicated to Rios’ process, intended to give a look into the mind of the artist. Viewers are invited into Rios’ “studio of curiosities,” where they can view research materials, photographs, works on paper, storyboards, production ephemera and video documentaries of the making of some of his most-acclaimed works.

Landlocked is part of the Contact Zones series of exhibitions at the ASU Art Museum, which focuses on contemporary migration and its intricate uncertainties within border culture, destiny and contested histories. The series includes new commission-based video installations, public engaged programs, guest-curated exhibitions and artist initiated projects.


Miguel Angel Rios is known as “an artist’s artist,” a reference that traces back to his well-known paintings and collage work of the late 1980s and 1990s, which were included in the seminal 1994 exhibition Mapping, curated by Robert Storr at the New York Museum of Modern Art.

“At the height of his career, Rios picked up a video camera, and without hesitation or fright, shifted mediums and artistic processes in the late 1990s,” says Morales. “His early experiments with sound and video would provide the emotional power that he later mined by pushing the boundaries of a camera to its limits and at times to its destruction.”

Ríos studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has received numerous awards, including the John Guggenheim Fellowship. A selection of his exhibitions includes the 2015 Lyon Biennale, France; DOCUMENTA (13) Kassel, Germany; Perez Art Museum, Miami; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; Artists Space, New York; Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; John Weber Gallery, New York; Torino Triennial, Torino, Italy; and New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.

His work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; La Maison Europeene de la Photographie, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.; Patricia Cisneros Collection, Miami; Phoenix Art Museum; The Museum of Fine Art, Houston; Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Isabel and Agustín Coppel Collection, Mexico City; Boris Hirmas Said Collection, Chile; Kadist Foundation, San Francisco; and MALBA Museo de Arte Latinoamericano, Argentina.

Landlocked coincides with two other presentations of Rios’ work around the world, including his debut at the 2015 Lyon Biennale, curated by Ralph Rugoff and a solo project, Endless at Sicardi Gallery in Houston. Both projects will run concurrently with the ASU Art Museum exhibition. For more information, visit


On Tuesday, Sept. 1, 5:30–7:30 p.m., the ASU Art Museum will host a public preview of the exhibition with curator Julio Cesar Morales and the artist. Morales will also lead a tour of the exhibition as part of the museum’s #ThirdWednesday series on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015 at 1:30 p.m.

An opening reception for the exhibition will be held Friday, Sept. 11, from 6:30–8:30 p.m. (with a members, alumni and press preview from 5:30–6:30 p.m.).

All ASU Art Museum events are free and open to the public.


A 150–page catalogue designed by renowned Mexican designer Fernando Corona will accompany the exhibition. The publication includes essays by Brazilian curator and writer Paulo Herkenhoff, an interview with curator Julio Cesar Morales and additional text by visual artists Carlos Amorales, Cristobal Lehyt and Javier Tellez, with an introduction by ASU Art Museum director Gordon Knox.


This exhibition is supported by The Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation as part of an ongoing series of exhibitions at the ASU Art Museum focusing on innovative Latin American art and artists.

Additional support was provided by Sicardi Gallery.

Public Contact: 
Juno Schaser
PR Specialist

Media Contact:
Juno Schaser
PR Specialist