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不仅仅是一场贸易战

东京—美国和中国之间不断升级的贸易战有时被博弈论专家称为“囚徒困境”。一个囚犯可以通过揭发另一个囚犯而受益,但前提是另一个囚犯不会同样背叛第一个囚犯。如果两人都揭发对方,则两人都输了;而最好的结果是双方都保持沉默。同样,一个经济体可以从提高对另一个经济体的关税中受益,但前提是后者不进行报复;在以牙还牙的情况下,双方都是输家。在这种情况下,解决问题的希望就在于贸易战造成的损失迫使陷入困境的中美两国承认它们的错误,并重新开始合作。

这是一个很有条理的论点,但它并不能解释美中贸易战,原因很简单:双方的动机都不像囚徒困境所表现的那样直截了当。中美的情况与古希腊历史学家修昔底德所描述的伯罗奔尼撒战争更为相似。

在某种程度上,伯罗奔尼撒27年的冲突是由一系列涉及较小城邦的小规模贸易和航运纠纷引发的。但更为根本的是,修昔底德认为,雅典作为一个新兴力量的崛起,以及这种崛起给斯巴达——一个具有优势的守成国家带来的恐惧,“使战争不可避免”。

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