"The Four Policemen" was a term coined by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to refer to four major Allies of World War II and founders of the United Nations (UN): the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and China.
Roosevelt's phrase symbolized his conception of the post-World War II world, though the idea would not come to fruition until the establishment of the UN, which emerged following the Declaration by United Nations of January 1, 1942. In the words of a former Undersecretary General of the UN, Sir Brian Urquhart:
It was a pragmatic system based on the primacy of the strong — a "trusteeship of the powerful," as he then called it, or, as he put it later, "the Four Policemen." The concept was, as [Senator Arthur H.] Vandenberg noted in his diary in April 1944, "anything but a wild-eyed internationalist dream of a world state.... It is based virtually on a four-power alliance." Eventually this proved to be both the potential strength and the actual weakness of the future UN, an organization theoretically based on a concert of great powers whose own mutual hostility, as it turned out, was itself the greatest potential threat to world peace.
Each of the Four Policemen was to maintain order in its respective sphere: Britain in its empire and in Western Europe; the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the central Eurasian landmass; China in East Asia and the Western Pacific; and the United States in the Western Hemisphere. Given the weakness of the government of Chiang Kai-shek, President Franklin D. Roosevelt foresaw the United States dominating China's sphere of influence. Thus, in effect, the United States would run two spheres and thereby maintain global supremacy over a declining Britain and a Soviet Union badly damaged by the Second World War.
- Urquhart, Brian. Looking for the Sheriff. New York Review of Books, July 16, 1998.
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