Can we afford to be the world’s policeman?

The Associated Press reported last week that U.S. officials are considering reductions in the number of our military personnel in Africa, at a time when extremist violence is increasing on the continent. Such consideration is “a move that worries (U.S.) international partners who are working to strengthen the fight in the tumultuous Sahel region,” the AP added.

It is true that Islamic terrorists are an increasing concern in Africa. As the AP noted, they have staged attacks recently in several countries. Violence has displaced more than 500,000 people in Burkina Faso.

But, except in rare exeptions, many other countries want our military help. Can we afford — in terms of both blood and money — to be the world’s policeman?

Reducing our military presence in Africa could open a door to Russia and China, which may be eager to step through it in order to gain influence in Africa, some have warned. That certainly is a consideration — but, again, so are American lives and money.

Perhaps a comprehensive review of how we use our armed forces is in order. No doubt that would prompt a battle royale among competing interests in the State Department and the Pentagon. Clearly, however, we Americans need to set some priorities. We cannot continue defending every other country that seeks our aid — especially when some of them have demonstrated reluctance to do their own fair share.

By Josh Bovee

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