The United States has been the world’s policeman since about 1917 when it got involved in World War I. The American public didn’t like that role and so they backed out of it after that war, only to have Europe erupt yet again into a massive conflagration now known as World War II. The American public opinion remained isolationist until the attack on Pearl Harbor, that forced the US into the war, which resulted in a worldwide loss of some sixty million lives, give or take twenty million.
Some would say it didn’t really matter that Germany was prevented from becoming the dominant country in Europe , because it has happened anyway. But, if they had created a unified Europe under Germany, at that time, they would have tried to become the absolutist world power. Germany is the economic powerhouse of Europe and it will be Germany who will direct European affairs.
The real power behind it all—there and everywhere else in the world since the end of WW I and obvious to everyone since the end of WW II—is the United States. With the advent of superweapons such as the H-bomb after WW II and the means to deliver them within the hour to any place on Earth, it became necessary to control that destructiveness and that duty fell to the United States, even though about ten other nations now possess those weapons.
The problem is that it costs the US lots of money to maintain the largest peacetime military force in history. The US public supplies this money, but it is the entirety of humanity which profits from the security provided by the US police force. Many, perhaps most, polities if they acquired the military power that the US has possessed for nearly a century would simply have used it to conquer the world and eventually set up a dictatorship. No one knows, or can know, but after a few H-bombs go off over a few cities it will become obvious to everyone that there can only be a single entity in control of these weapons, and that entity must be absolutely dedicated to the health of all humanity. That means all humanity must be involved in the political control of those weapons.
We now are in a temporary and unstable situation in which the American public is feeling the economic price of being the world’s policeman for most of the past century. American policy has created the free flow of goods and information over the entirety of the Earth, but because the American public has footed the economic bill for doing so it has created the situation where other people, not burdened with those tax expenses, can create and sell their goods at a lower price. That has meant that the American workers’ jobs have been shipped abroad, to these more economical places of manufacture, and the American middle class is being driven into poverty.
“Newsweek ranked the “world’s best countries” based on measures of health, education and politics, the United States ranked 11th. In the 2011 Quality of Life Index by Nation Ranking, the United States was 31st. Similarly, in recent rankings of the world’s most livable cities, the Economist Intelligence Unit has the top American entry at No. 29, Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey has the first United States entry at No. 31 and Monocle magazine showed only 3 United States cities in the top 25.” – “United States, which ranks 28th on the Sovereign Fiscal Responsibility Index.” see New York Times.
Missing from the NYT’s analysis is the fact that the United States has been supplying the security which permits the other world nations to ignore the responsibility for not being attacked by their neighbors. That is no small thing because until America took over the role of worldwide stability those countries were constantly at war, and had been for thousands of years. With their unearned peace comes their unearned prosperity, and with the American workers’ economic support of peace in those countries has been the loss of the American workers’ livelihood. It is a tragedy of the commons type of situation where the honest, fair-minded average law-abiding American worker slowly loses his livelihood and eventually even the lives of his potential offspring to a distorted system.
The American worker supplies the security for foreign workers to work more cheaply than an American worker can now do. The system has worked for decades, but now with safe transportation on the high seas, and safe communication via the Internet, cheaper foreign labor supplies the world with better quality goods at a cheaper price than American labor can accommodate.
It is an unstable situation, which cannot last forever, or even much longer, because American workers’ jobs have moved permanently abroad, and any new jobs that can be created will instantly move abroad. Unfortunately, when the United States can no longer afford to maintain peace throughout the world, chaos will ensue, and China will probably step into the role of world policeman.
It is unlikely that pax-China will be as benign as pax-Americana has been.