America used its financial clout to knock the British Empire into second place last century and it's in danger of receiving the same treatment from China in the not-too-distant future, writes Zachary Karabell. China is the American government's biggest creditor, much as the US was to Britain in 1946, Karabell notes, and while the arrangement works fine for both parties now, it gives the Chinese the power to deliver a knockout blow to the US economy and the American dollar should the two nations' interests diverge.
China won't always settle for being the junior partner in the relationship, Karabell warns in the Wall Street Journal, and America needs to step up to the challenge and start matching China's dynamism if it doesn't want to end up in second place. "The US is in danger of assuming that because it has been a dominant nation on the world stage, it must continue to be so," Karabell concludes. "That is a recipe for becoming Britain."