Michael Schuman of Time's The Curious Capitalist reevaluates the U.S. role of global policeman, especially in light of the federal deficit and other national security concerns.
Did you know that the U.S. still stations nearly 50,000 troops in Japan? That's pretty amazing when you think about it. The war in the Pacific ended 66 years ago, and there hasn't been a conflict in Northeast Asia since the Korean War of the early 1950s, but America still maintains a hefty military presence in the area. Another bunch of soldiers are parked nearby in South Korea. Why in the world are all those soldiers still there?
They're keeping the peace.
Not everybody may agree with me on that assertion. I can't imagine Kim Jong Il is too happy that tens of thousands of armed Americans are sitting on his doorstep. But most of the leadership of Asia fully realizes that the U.S. military presence in the region has, without question, provided a stability rarely experienced. The traditional rivalries between local powers (China, Japan and Korea) have been kept at bay. American security allowed Japan, South Korea and most of the rest of the region (including China) to focus on economic development and alleviating poverty. It is because America ensured peace in East Asia that Asians have been able to get rich.