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“特朗普总统”将带来“失序世界”
How the west might soon be lost

2020-9-29 17:06| 发布者: 凡心| 查看: 44| 评论: 0

摘要: Sometimes history jumps. Think of the first world war, the Bolshevik revolution, the Great Depression, the election of Adolf Hitler, the second world war, the beginning of the cold war, the collapse o ...
How the west might soon be lost
Sometimes history jumps. Think of the first world war, the Bolshevik revolution, the Great Depression, the election of Adolf Hitler, the second world war, the beginning of the cold war, the collapse of the European empires, Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up” of China, the demise of the Soviet Union, and the financial crisis of 2007-09 and subsequent “great recession”.

We may be on the brink of an event as transformative as many of these: the election of Donald Trump as US president. This would mark the end of a US-led west as the central force in global affairs. The result would not be a new order. It would be perilous disorder.

The fact that Mr Trump can be a credible contender for the presidency is astounding. In business, he is a serial defaulter and litigator turned reality TV star. He is a peddler of falsehoods and conspiracy theories. He utters racist calumnies. He attacks the independence of the judiciary. He refuses to reveal his taxes. He has no experience of political office, and incoherent policies. He glories in ignorance. He even hints at a federal default. He undermines confidence in the US-created trade order, by threatening to tear up past agreements. He undermines confidence in US democracy by claiming the election will be rigged. He supports torture and the deliberate killing of the families of alleged terrorists. He admires the former KGB agent who runs Russia.

Evidently, a huge number of US voters have lost confidence in the country’s political and economic systems. This is so to an extent not seen even in the 1930s, when voters turned towards an established politician. Yet, for all its challenges, the US is not in such terrible shape. It is the richest large country in the history of the world. Growth is slow, but unemployment is low. If voters were to choose Mr Trump — despite his failings, displayed again in the first presidential debate — this would tell us grim things about the health of the US.

It is the world’s leading power, so this is not just a domestic US concern. What might a Trump presidency mean? Forecasting the policies of someone so unpredictable is impossible. But a few things seem at least reasonably clear.

The US and its allies remain immensely powerful. But their economic dominance is in slow decline. According to the International Monetary Fund, the share of the high-income countries (essentially, the US and its chief allies) will fall from 64 per cent of global output (measured at purchasing power) in 1990 to 39 per cent in 2020, while the US share will fall from 22 per cent to 15 per cent over this period.

While the US military might is still huge, two caveats must be made. One is that winning a conventional war is quite a different matter from achieving one’s aims on the ground, as the Viet-nam and Iraq wars showed. Furthermore, China’s rapidly rising defence spending could create serious military difficulties for the US in the Asia-Pacific region.

It follows that the ability of the US to shape the world to its liking will rest increasingly on its influence over the global economic and political systems. Indeed, this is not new. It has been a feature of US hegemony since the 1940s. But this is even more important today. The alliances the US creates, the institutions it supports and the prestige it possesses are truly invaluable assets. All such strategic assets would be in grave peril if Mr Trump were to be president.

The biggest contrast between the US and China is that the former has so many powerful allies. Even Vladimir Putin is not a reliable ally for China. America’s allies support the US largely because they trust it. That trust is based on its perceived commitment to predictable, values-based behaviour. Its alliances have not been problem-free, far from it. But they have worked. Mr Trump’s cherished unpredictability and transactional approach to partnerships would damage the alliances irreparably.

A vital feature of the US-led global order has been the role of multilateral institutions, such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. In binding itself by the rules of an open economic system, the US has encouraged others to do the same. The result has been extraordinary growth in prosperity: between 1950 and 2015, average global real output per head rose sixfold. Mr Trump does not understand this system. The results of repudiation could be calamitous for all.

The Iraq war has damaged trust in US wisdom and competence. But the global financial crisis has been even more destructive. Many have long suspected US motives. But they thought it knew how to manage a capitalist system. The crisis devastated that confidence.

After all this damage, election of a man as unqualified as Mr Trump would call into question something even more fundamental: belief in the capacity of the US to choose reasonably well-informed and competent leaders. Under a President Trump, the democratic system would lose much of its credibility as a model for the organisation of a civilised political life. Mr Putin and other actual or would-be despots would cheer. Their belief that talk of western values is just hypocrisy would be vindicated. But those who see the US as a bastion of democracy would despair.

If Mr Trump were to win, it would be a regime change for the world. It would, for example, end efforts to manage the threat of climate change, possibly forever. But even his candidacy suggests that the US role in the global order risks undergoing a transformation. That role depended not only on American economic and military prowess, but also on the values it represented. For all its mistakes, the ideal of a law-governed democratic republic remained visible. Hillary Clinton is an imperfect candidate. Mr Trump is something else altogether. Far from making America great, his presidency might unravel the world.

历史有时会发生跳跃。想想第一次世界大战、布尔什维克革命(Bolshevik Revolution,即俄国十月革命)、大萧条、阿道夫?希特勒(Adolf Hitler)当选、第二次世界大战、冷战爆发、多个欧洲帝国的瓦解、邓小平在中国实施的“改革开放”、苏联解体,以及2007-09年的金融危机和随后的“大衰退”。

我们或许即将面临一起类似的转折性事件:唐纳德?特朗普(Donald Trump)当选美国总统。那将标志着以美国为首的西方在全球事务中担当核心角色的时代就要终结。其结果将不是形成新秩序,而是出现危险的失序。

特朗普能够成为一名有希望当选的总统竞选者,这一事实令人咋舌。在商界,他从一个连续违约者和诉讼当事人转型为真人秀电视明星。他兜售谎言和阴谋论。他进行种族主义诽谤。他抨击司法机构的独立性。他拒绝披露自己的税单。他没有从政经验,没有连贯的政策。他以无知为荣。他甚至暗示联邦政府可以违约。他威胁要撕毁过去达成的贸易协定,削弱了人们对美国创建的贸易秩序的信心。他声称大选将被操纵,削弱了人们对美国民主的信心。他支持酷刑,支持故意杀死疑似恐怖分子的家人。他钦佩正在掌管俄罗斯的那名前克格勃(KGB)特工。

显然,数量众多的美国选民已经对这个国家的政治经济体系失去了信心。其程度之严重,即便是在上世纪30年代也未曾见过,当时选民们支持一位老牌政治家。然而,尽管面临各种挑战,目前美国的情况并不是很糟。它是世界历史上最富有的大国。增长缓慢,但失业率低。如果选民们选择了特朗普——尽管他有很多缺点并且在第一次竞选辩论中再次暴露无遗——这将告诉我们美国健康状况有多严峻。

美国是世界舞台上处于领导地位的大国,所以这个问题不只是美国国内民众会关心。特朗普当选总统可能意味着什么?要预测一个如此难以预测之人的政策,是绝无可能的。但有几点至少是相当明确的。

美国及其盟友仍然非常强大。但它们的经济主导地位正在缓慢下降。国际货币基金组织(IMF)数据显示,高收入国家(基本上就是美国及其主要盟友)占全球产出的比例(按购买力计算)将从1990年的64%下降到2020年的39%,而同期美国的占比将从22%下降至15%。

尽管美国的军力仍然强大,但有两点需要说明。一个是,正如越南战争和伊拉克战争所显示的那样,打赢一场常规战争与实现你在地面上的目标是完全不同的事情。此外,中国的国防开支迅速增加,可能会使美国在亚太地区面临严重的军事难题。

由此可见,美国按照自己意愿塑造世界的能力,将越来越多地依赖于其对全球经济和政治体系的影响力。事实上,这并不是什么新鲜事。这已成为自1940年以来美国霸权的一个特点。但在今天,这一点显得更重要。美国创建的联盟、支持的机构和拥有的声望,是真正无价的资产。如果特朗普成为总统,所有这些战略性资产都将面临严重危险。

美国和中国的最大不同在于,前者有众多强大盟友。而对中国来说,即便普京也非可靠盟友。美国的盟友支持美国,主要是因为它们信任美国。这种信任是基于它们认为,美国会采取的行动是可以预测、以价值观为基础的。美国的联盟关系并非毫无问题,远非如此。但是,这些联盟是起作用的。特朗普所重视的不可预测性,以及把伙伴关系当成交易处理的做法,将会对联盟关系造成不可挽回的损害。

美国领导下的全球秩序的一个重要特征是多边机构——如国际货币基金组织、世界银行(World Bank)和世界贸易组织(WTO)——所扮演的角色。通过以开放经济体系的规则约束自己,美国也鼓励了其他国家这么做。其结果就是经济的快速繁荣:1950年至2015年间,全球人均实际产出增长了6倍。特朗普不理解这种开放经济体系。抛弃这种体系,可能给所有人带来灾难性的后果。

伊拉克战争损害了世人对美国智慧和能力的信心。但是,全球金融危机产生了更大的破坏效果。许多人一直怀疑美国的动机。但他们曾认为美国懂得如何管理一个资本主义体系。危机已摧毁了这种信心。

在遭受这一切损害之后,把特朗普这样一个不称职的人选上台,将使一种更根本的东西遭到质疑:那就是人们对于美国有能力选出见多识广、能干的领导人的信心。如果特朗普当上总统,民主制度作为文明政治生活组织制度之典范的信誉将损失大半。普京和其他当前的独裁者以及未来的准独裁者将会欢呼。他们认为谈论西方价值观只是虚伪作派的观点将被证明是正确的。但是,那些把美国视为民主堡垒的人会感到绝望。

如果特朗普获胜,这将是整个世界都要面对的一场政权更迭。比如,应对气候变化威胁的努力大概将从此不了了之。但是,他成为总统候选人就已表明,美国在全球秩序中的角色可能经历一场转变。这个角色不仅依赖于美国的经济和军事实力,也依赖于它所代表的价值观。尽管有许多错误,一个法治的民主共和国的理想依然明显可见。希拉里?克林顿(Hillary Clinton)是一个不完美的候选人。特朗普则完全是另类。他若成为美国总统,非但不能让美国变得伟大,还可能让世界分崩离析。

译者/何黎


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