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美国时代结束了吗?绝对没!

By Steve Yetiv / December 19, 2011

《文学城消息》基(美国)督教科学箴言报 davidliu60 译

Christiansci美国的衰落是个老话题。现在的美国,正在承受高失业率、巨额债务及政治僵局之痛。不过,从大局看,美国仍是具竞争力和创新性的经济体、有可靠的盟友、超强的军事实力、敌对的外国独裁者的实力也江河日下。

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科威特弗吉尼亚营,最后一批撤离伊拉克的美军部队中,一位美军士兵正在清点即将运回美国的武器。请记住这一点:美国的军事实力远比对手强大

近期的一些民意调查显示,60%到70%的美国人相信,美国正在衰落。谁能责怪他们呢?高失业率、巨额债务、政治僵局,还有认为是柏拉图创造了第一个盘子的那些学生。

形势看上去很糟。甚至连知名杂志《外交事务》也在深入探讨这一话题,把“美国时代结束了吗?”这样的问题放到了杂志封面上。

不过,答案却是否定的。尽管就像不断推陈出新的《亚当斯一家》系列作品一样,美国人不断听到唱衰的言论,然而在全球活力的关键领域之中,这个国家强健依然。其他国家要在短时间内取而代之,似无可能。

因由美国衰落的争论而来的风险很大。如果关于美国时代即将终结的观点甚嚣尘上,国内民众会产生预言自证的情绪,全球麻烦制造者会大受鼓舞,经济和战略上的不稳定性也会由此滋生。

不过,我们可以思考下面这些与美国相关的事实:

•根据“世界经济论坛”的数据,在过去数年中,美国仍是世界上最具竞争力的主要经济体。只有一些小国,如瑞士、瑞典、芬兰、新加坡等,偶尔会超过美国。即便是欧盟国家,现在也在寻求美国的帮助,希望美国帮他们走出债务危机,这听起来颇有些讽刺意味。

•美国有世界上最优秀的企业家队伍,在世界500强中,美国企业的数量远超他国。美国仍牢据未来技术的前沿,如生物技术、纳米技术等,在网络空间中也占据优势,尽管在绿色技术等其他某些领域中美国已然落后。

•美国仍是世界上最具魅力的移民输入国,吸引了数百万计既聪明又勤奋的人才。这些智力力量的作用,无论怎么强调都不过分,它会持续不断地帮助重塑这个国家。

•在北大西洋公约组织、欧盟、20国工业集团中,在世界各地,美国拥有众多可信赖的盟友,通常它们能够为美国实现国内和国际目标提供帮助。与此相反,比如说中国和俄罗斯,它们常常彼此猜疑,缺少这种全球支持。

•美国的敌人,大都受到很大程度的约束,较之于先前,威胁性有所降低,美国也受益于此。北韩为国际社会所不齿,叙利亚政权濒于崩溃,雨果•查韦斯并不怎么讨人喜欢,且身体正日渐衰弱。菲德尔•卡斯特罗已成昨日黄花。萨达姆•侯赛因和奥萨马•本•拉登已然命赴黄泉。苏联已不复存在。对于世界政治中这些结构性变化,我们大都未能深入理解。

•美国的军事实力远超对手,可以采用多种独特的方式,部署超远距离的军事行动。在伊拉克和阿富汗遇到的困难,并不能算作美国军事实力的注脚,而是为国家战略和国家建设面临的挑战提供了经验。

•美国缺少综合性能源政策,但其能源资源却比除俄罗斯之外的任何主要国家都更为丰富。对于石油的依赖程度,美国也比其他大多数大国要低。在一个能源地位日趋重要的世界中,这一点至关重要。

•美国是全球民主运动的急先锋,在过去的100多年的征程中,一直如此 – 而不是共产主义、法西斯主义、新纳粹主义、独裁政治、激进的伊斯兰主义或其他任何形式的统治形式。综合实力排名显示,美国的软实力 – 因为文化和政策的影响而产生的对他人或他国的吸引力 - 列第三位,略低于法国和英国(中国列第17位)。

•12岁以下儿童的教育较为糟糕 – 这是一个大问题 – 但是,大学教育、特别是研究生教育,美国是世界最佳。

美国衰落的观点并不新颖。例如,1973年阿拉伯石油禁运之后,经济开始低迷,很多美国人即认为美国已然衰落。在1980年代,面对日本的经济腾飞,他们也有同感 – 当时,很多人都想当然地认为,日本将取代美国,成为全球领导者。

现在,美国人又错了吗?可能是这样。

尽管,以后仍需系统研究以在美国与挑战者间进行比较,而且,无论在国内还是在国外,美国确实面临诸多严峻挑战,这些挑战也必须得以克服以避免衰落的产生,但是,美国仍比我们国内的悲观主义者所认为的要强大很多。

我们应该认识到这一事实,同时,面对美国面临的能源、教育、预算和经济等方面的挑战,要提出认真的、两党都认可的、长期的解决方案 – 并探讨如何避免同与类似于中国这样的新兴大国之间的对抗升级。

史蒂夫•耶蒂夫是奥多明尼昂大学的政治学教授,奥多明尼昂大学位于弗吉尼亚州诺福克市。他是《石油三角》、《盲目行动》两书的作者,现正在写一本关于美国衰落的书。

【原文】

Is America over? Not by a long shot.

American decline is the conventional wisdom, as the United States suffers from high unemployment, crushing debt, and political gridlock. Here's the bigger picture: a competitive and innovative economy, reliable allies, a superior military, and foreign autocrats on the run.

By Steve Yetiv / December 19, 2011

Some recent polls show that between 60 and 70 percent of Americans believe that the United States is in decline. And who can blame them? High unemployment. Crushing debt. Political gridlock. And students who think that Plato created the first plate.

Well, here's an answer: "No." For all the unrelenting gloom that has descended upon Americans like an ever-present Addams Family cloud, the country still remains very strong in key areas of global vitality. It is unlikely to be superseded by another country anytime soon.

The stakes in the debate on American decline are big. Exaggerated views of demise can create a self-fulfilling prophecy at home, encourage global troublemakers, and produce world economic and strategic instability.

But let's just consider these facts about the US:

•It has had the most competitive major economy in the world over the past several years, according to the World Economic Forum. Only the small states of SwitzerlandSwedenFinland, and Singapore sometimes eclipse it. Even the European Unioncountries are now looking to America to help them out of their debt crisis, as ironic as that may sound.

•It has the world's best entrepreneurs and by far the highest number of Fortune 500 companies. It remains at the forefront of the technologies of the future, such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, and has the advantage in cyberspace, even though it has fallen behind in some other areas, like green technologies.

•It remains by far the world's leading magnet for immigrants, allowing it to draw on millions of bright, hardworking people. It's hard to exaggerate such brain power, which constantly helps renew the country.

•It has trustworthy allies in NATO, the EU, the Group of 20 industrialized countries, and elsewhere that usually help it meet national and international goals. Contrast that with, let's say, China andRussia. They suspect each other and often lack such global support

•It benefits because most of its adversaries are largely constrained and less threatening than they used to be. North Korea is a pariah. Syria is on the ropes. Hugo Chávez is not well liked and is ailing. Fidel Castro is a has-been. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are dead. The Soviet Union is gone. Those are tectonic shifts in world politics that we rarely appreciate in full.•It possesses a military that is far ahead of its rivals, allowing the US to operate at great distances in unique ways. Difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan are not a commentary on its military capability, but on strategy and the challenges of nation-building.

•It lacks a comprehensive energy policy, but it has more energy resources than any major country, except Russia. The US is also less dependent on oil than most great powers. That's important in a world where energy is becoming increasingly central.

•It has spearheaded the global move toward democracy, which has been on the march in the past 100 years – not communism, fascism, Nazism, autocracy, radical Islamism, or any other forms of governance. According to sophisticated rankings, America ranks third in soft power – the ability to attract others due to culture and policies, marginally behindFrance and Britain (China clocked in at No. 17).

•It trails badly in K-12 education – a huge problem – but its universities, especially at the graduate level, dominate the global rankings.

Views of American decline are not new. For example, Americans thought the US was in decline after the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which sent it into recession. They felt similarly in the face ofJapan's economic rise in the 1980s – when many thought quite prematurely that Japan would supplant America as the global leader.

Are Americans wrong again? Probably.

While a methodical study is needed to compare the US with its chal-lengers over time, and while America faces truly severe challenges at home and abroad, which it will have to surmount to prevent decline, it remains far stronger than our national pessimism suggests.

We should appreciate that fact, even while also developing serious, bipartisan, and longer-term solutions to America's energy, educational, budgetary and economic challenges – and seeing how we can prevent rivalries from worsening with rising powers like China.

Steve Yetiv is a professor of political science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. He is the author of "The Petroleum Triangle" and "The Absence of Grand Strategy" and is working on a book on US decline.

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