Paul Lachine

二十一世纪的美国实力

坎布里奇——美国政府国家情报委员会预测到2025年美国的优势将“大幅度削弱”,而美国赖以保持其优势的关键领域——军事实力——其重要性也将在未来竞争日趋激烈的世界格局中有所降低。俄罗斯总统德米特里·梅德韦杰夫称2008年金融危机标志着美国全球领导地位的结束。加拿大反对派自由党领导人迈克尔·伊格纳季耶夫则认为美国权力的鼎盛期已经过去。我们怎样才能知道这些预测是否准确呢?

人们应当警惕全方位衰退的误导性比喻。国家毕竟不同于寿命可以预测的人类个体。例如,当英国在十八世纪末失去美洲殖民地后,霍勒斯·沃波尔曾哀叹英国已沦落到“像丹麦或撒丁岛一样微不足道”。但他没有能够预测到工业革命将使英国在接下来的世纪中统治地位更加稳固。

罗马帝国在登上权力顶峰后依然延续了三个多世纪的统治。即使到最后,罗马也没有向另外一个国家屈服,而是在被野蛮部落蹂躏得千疮百孔后最终走上了灭亡的道路。实际上,虽然未来十年内中国、印度或巴西将超越美国的预言盛极一时,但在大国间实现传统权力转换的问题或许比不上现代蛮族(非国家势力)的崛起。在以信息为基础但缺乏网络安全的世界里,权力分散的威胁可能大于权力的转移。

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