U.S. Global Engagement

May 16, 2014 • Volume 24, Issue 19
Should America be more assertive on the world stage?
By Peter Katel


Pro-Russian militants take positions (AFP/Getty Images/Alexander Khudoteply)
Pro-Russian militants take positions in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, on May 6, 2014. Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, President Obama has refused military aid to Ukraine, instead imposing economic sanctions. Most Americans oppose military intervention in Ukraine and other international hotspots. (AFP/Getty Images/Alexander Khudoteply)

As concern grows about Russia's intentions in Ukraine and the civil war in Syria continues unabated, the United States faces increasing pressure from hawks to intervene militarily — though not with boots on the ground. But in the wake of the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, most Americans oppose involving U.S. troops in military actions abroad. Mindful of the potential for escalation and intent on shifting resources to domestic needs, the Obama administration has been using diplomacy and economic sanctions rather than bullets to assert American power. It has refused military aid to Ukraine but imposed economic sanctions in an attempt to stem what many view as an effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to bring Ukraine under Moscow's control. Last year President Obama stopped short of bombing Syria after it used chemical weapons, instead sending aid for refugees of the war. Some U.S. allies applaud the administration's restraint, but others want to see more American muscle.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Foreign Aid
Feb. 18, 2022  Fragile States
Apr. 23, 2021  U.S. Foreign Aid
Mar. 29, 2019  U.S. Foreign Policy in Transition
Apr. 14, 2017  Rethinking Foreign Aid
May 16, 2014  U.S. Global Engagement
Oct. 02, 2012  Rebuilding Haiti
Mar. 23, 2012  U.S.-Europe Relations
Jun. 17, 2011  Foreign Aid and National Security
Apr. 26, 2002  Foreign Aid After Sept. 11
Sep. 27, 1996  Reassessing Foreign Aid
Sep. 23, 1988  Foreign Aid: a Declining Commitment
Dec. 01, 1965  Development Aid for Poor Nations
Dec. 19, 1962  Foreign Aid Overhaul
Jun. 19, 1957  Population Growth and Foreign Aid
Dec. 12, 1956  Extension of Foreign Aid
Jan. 26, 1955  Aid to Asia
Feb. 04, 1953  Trade Policy and Foreign Aid
May 03, 1951  Future of Foreign Aid
Feb. 09, 1949  American Aid to Greece
Oct. 17, 1947  Conditions for American Aid
Jun. 11, 1947  Financial Aid to Foreign Countries
Aug. 06, 1940  American Relief of Famine in Europe
Feb. 16, 1940  Loans and Credits to Foreign Countries
Cold War
Middle East Conflicts
Terrorism and Counterterrorism