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特朗普有多重要?

坎布里奇—美国从未有过像特朗普这样的总统。他自恋、关注点随时变化、在国际事务方面缺乏经验,在外交政策方面他总是空喊口号而拿不出战略。一些总统,比如尼克松,也存在和特朗普类似的不可靠个性和社会偏见,但尼克松在外交政府方面有一套战略。也有一些总统,比如约翰逊,非常自负,但同时也具备高超的政治技能与国会和其他领导人共事。

未来历史学家回顾特朗普任期的时候,会把他看作临时性的反常,还是美国在世界中的角色的重大转折点?记者往往过于关注领导人的个性,因为能够写出好故事。相反,社会科学家往往会提出关于经济增长和政治区位的广泛的结构性理论,表明历史必然性。

我曾经写过一本书,通过考察一个世纪前“美国时代”的建立过程中的重要转折点,来检验领袖的重要性,并推测假如总统被最有可能的竞争对手替代的话,会发生什么。结构性力量是否可以不论谁当总统,都能产生美国领导全球的时代?

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