The United States has sometimes been called "The World's Policeman," raising the question of what level of involvement the country should have in foreign and international conflicts. From Vietnam to the Middle East, it's a debate that has raged for decades. Explore the topic in this series of short videos.
In 1938, Roosevelt broadcast a personal appeal to Hitler, asking him to halt further aggression. In reply, Hitler ridiculed the president with withering sarcasm.
The Vietnam Question
Kennedy felt buildup of a military arsenal wasn't enough to show the United States would not cower to communism. So he decided to make a stand in a place few Americans at the time had ever heard of: Vietnam.
Aiding Freedom Fighters
In 1981, Reagan aided the Polish workers movement. "If Poland were freed, [he] felt all Eastern Europe would follow."
War in the Persian Gulf
H.W. Bush initiated a war in Iraq instead of imposing economic sanctions, drawing criticism from the American people and members of Congress.
The Soviet Menace
As soon as he took office, Kennedy became increasingly worried about turning the Cold War into a hot one, resulting in nuclear catastrophe. Nikita Khrushchev continued to aid in the spread of communism around the world and Kennedy wanted to show the American public he would not be bullied by the Soviet premier.
In 1964, American bombers striking deep into North Vietnam demonstrated that Johnson was a committed anti-Communist.
Opposing Iraqi Aggression
On the White House lawn on August 5, 1990, H.W. Bush took a stand against Iraqi aggression against Kuwait. "He led with his gut, with his instincts," says biographer Timothy Naftali.
When Bosnian Serb soldiers murdered thousands in July 1995, Clinton initiated a massive NATO military response. "He didn't blink," National Security Coordinator Richard Clarke said. "We knew that day that we had a commander-in-chief who was rational and comfortable with the use of force."