Michael Tomasky: What if China Became the World’s Policeman?

For the Guardian, Michael Tomasky looks at debates over the U.S. role in unrest in Bahrain and other countries in the Arab World, and wonders about a future where China replaces the U.S. as the world’s policeman:

America of course is called the world’s policeman. What if, 25 years from now say, that were China?

I’m asking out of genuine curiosity. I’m sure some of you will think of ramifications that elude me. We begin with the obvious downside that the US will no longer be the world’s #1. Well, the neocons will thunder about that, but the rest of us might welcome some aspects of it. It would surely force Europe to spend more on military matters, if the US were no longer the feudal lord and protector, and America could spend less, maybe. It could also force the US and the EU to coordinate more.

What it would mean for the people of the world could depend to some extent on what sort of society China itself is in the future. People who disparage American imperialism tend to forget that the US spends many billions on and civil society and the promotion of women’s rights and other things through quasi-governmental endowments and agencies. China has a big Africa investment fund, but I doubt much of it goes toward those sorts of things.

Of course, the world’s policeman also tends to get to be the world’s banker, and that’s the rub, really. What happens if China starts running global monetary policy? (Or is it already?)

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