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Author Topic: 911 - A Geopolitical Turning Point?!  (Read 9457 times)
chin
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« on: 12 September 2011, 04:38:08 »

Today is the 10th anniversary of the 911 attack. Many of the newspaper articles and commentaries focus on how the event may have changed the world. I am quoting a few I read, and let's see how the predictions pan out in the next decade.
« Last Edit: 12 September 2011, 04:52:38 by chin » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: 12 September 2011, 04:39:34 »

From Mingpao.
http://news.mingpao.com/20110911/tab3.htm

[I may translate the key points later for my English speaking friends.]

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沈旭暉專欄﹕911﹕美國盛極而衰的轉捩點?

【咫尺地球】關於911周年回顧、美國反恐成效,本欄這些年來已寫了不少,今天是911十周年,我們不妨問一個更宏觀的問題﹕假如2001年沒有發生911事件,美國的世界地位會有什麼不同?

「歷史終結論」的終結

在911前十年(1991-2001),西方主流學者多以為世界已邁入單極時代,美國不但在綜合國力遙遙領先,它奉行的政治、社會、經濟、文化制度也被認為是最優越,其他國家只能效法,是以有「歷史終結論」,甚至研究大國興衰的權威歷史學者Paul Kennedy,也相信美國的衰落尚遙遙無期。

911前,美國挾冷戰終結的餘威,得到自由民主理念的國際代言身分,能以「國情不同」為由,對不同政權採取不同策略,作為影響各國的槓桿。但布殊以反恐為國策後,美國逐漸把國家安全凌駕於自由民主理念之上(起碼國內外不少人這樣看),不但令「人權」與「穩定」這兩難撕裂社會,也失去了美國對理念話語權的壟斷。沒有911,美國可以說支持友好獨裁政權是鼓勵「循序漸進」﹔有了911,美國以國家安全理順上述關係,則變相放棄了自己的「理念霸權」。以茉莉花革命為例,這些中東、北非獨裁國家在911後成為美國反恐盟友,連卡扎菲也發現只要打擊激進伊斯蘭實力,政權就得到「合法性」,結果它們的管治愈來愈高壓、腐敗,「美國牌」反而間接令其被推翻,受民眾認同的新一代卻多不認同西方,因為美國在過去十年,已失去民主的道德高地。

美失民主道德高地

假如布殊不是以「布殊主義」的單邊方式出兵阿富汗、伊拉克,而是讓聯合國牽頭,甚或邀請穆斯林將軍統領聯軍,反恐戰爭也許還能像海灣戰爭那樣,局限為個別事件,「文明衝突」的元素也可以被減低。但布殊的作風卻開罪了整個穆斯林世界,也製造了新的恐襲危機,正如《Foreign Affairs》月前一篇文章分析,蓋達地方支部在不同地方發動襲擊的能量只會比911前強了、而不是弱了。伊斯蘭世界反彈的重要性,在於讓美國失去了「普世價值」的話語權,被不少第三世界視為只捍衛耶教文明;此消彼長下,不少原來相信「歷史終結」的國家也反悔起來,發現原來可以不再參與美式全球化經濟體系,紛紛另尋選擇。911後,中國大舉進入非洲、中東發展的機遇,部分也是這樣形成。

說到中國,從1999年的南斯拉夫炸館事件、2001年的南海撞機事件可見,假如沒有911,中美關係的類似衝突可能會不斷出現,布殊剛當選時也把中國定義為競爭對手,放棄了從前的戰略性伙伴標籤。雖然美國官方立場是中美關係「好不到哪裏去、也差不到哪裏去」,Joseph Nye也許不承認911改變了中美關係,但私下交談中,美國右翼學者會坦承美國的體制需要明確敵人,沒有了911,美國的主要矛盾有可能變成中國。當然,美國不會像憤青想像的那樣,全方位打壓一個國家,但只要華府在過去十年逼中國把資源放在軍備競賽,積極推動第三世界的私有化改革、讓美資公司接受成果,以免讓中國等新興大國有可乘之機,則單極狀態可望再延長,中國也不一定有十年休養生息的機會。正如內地國際關係學者王緝思分析,奧巴馬正把建構新的國際秩序提升至國家利益的高度﹔假如這方針早十年出現,首當其衝的,只會是中國。

中國十年休養機會

布殊在911後通過塑造中國以外的其他外部敵人,鞏固自己陣營的支持,以為這符合美國面對挑戰的一貫回應模式。殊不知這敵人是虛無縹緲的非國家個體,消滅不了,卻變相令其他國家取回發展空間。像俄羅斯承機重新集權,歐洲在反恐過程中、特別是伊拉克戰爭期間,不斷顯示與美國的差異取回主動,其他第三世界國家支援了美國反恐,卻逐步脫離了國際貨幣基金會等發展模式的掌握。當美國在911後債台高築,美國已不能像在1990年代那樣,通過「建議」第三世界搞自由化改革取利,俄羅斯等國也不會像1990年代那樣大舉拍賣國有資產,惟有不斷兜售國債,這卻讓其他國家的底氣愈來愈足﹔不斷的「量化寬鬆」,也令美元的認受性愈來愈低。

說到經濟,美國反恐開支驚人,兩場戰爭是國庫極沉重的負擔,還有更多開支花在當地維穩、以及前線人員福利,結果民主黨政府辛辛苦苦弄來的國庫盈餘,又變回超級赤字。金融風暴在過去十年再三出現,除了有結構性原因,與美國不斷通過減息「刺激」戰後經濟造成泡沫爆破也不無關係,這點美國華裔學者汪錚的文章「如果沒有911」有較詳細的解釋。假如美國毋須應付這開支,雖不能杜絕金融危機,卻可能在「世界再無大戰」的假定下,加速把資源投向國內福利或環保議題,而911原是處理這類議題的良機,假如類似方案當時推出,也許不會像奧巴馬的醫保那樣激化新對立。再者假如美國能以反恐的力度,及早正視金融界種種違規行為,起碼可以把「反戰」和「反金融霸權」這兩大論述分割。

新保守主義死而不僵

克林頓在冷戰結束後走「第三條道路」,一度把總統定位在超然位置,原已令國內的兩極被邊緣化。布殊上台時,美國人尚不太清楚他決心推行新保守主義政策,而沒有911的機遇,布殊政府先天認受不足,也難製造一場意識形態革命。可惜911後,美國的自由主義vs.保守主義對立被空前強化,左翼愈來愈反戰、仇富,右翼愈來愈反智、仇外。雖然新保守主義氣勢近年大為削弱,但其鐵杆支持者死而不僵,更對筆者笑稱是「喪屍」隨時復活,同一陣營衍生的「茶黨」更已偏離正常社會的民智,不能想象這些人在1990年代能有勇氣走出來。

當然,這些都不是911策劃者的部署,也不是歷史的必然,曾任布殊撰稿人的David Frum就曾玩票地撰文,分析若處理911的是民主黨的戈爾,歷史會有什麼不同;對這問題筆者另有看法,有機會再述。但畢竟現實沒有如果,假如在911十周年,美國還沉醉於擊斃拉登的「勝利」,未免見樹不見林。其實美國反恐的唯一成就,就是再沒有針對本土的恐怖襲擊成功出現,僅此而已。當然,美國依然是全球第一強國,但單極世界已不再成秩序,由是觀之,若說美國霸權由盛極而衰的轉捩點是2001年9月11日,似亦不為過。

英國華威大學訪問學人

香港教育學院文理學院副教授 及對外關係統籌主任

沈旭暉
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« Reply #2 on: 12 September 2011, 04:43:22 »

Another from Mingpao
http://news.mingpao.com/20110911/tab1.htm

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政經易勢 華崛起美褪色

反恐戰拖美後腿 華率亞洲發圍

2001 年9月11日的大清早,美國正安枕無憂﹕蘇聯解體10年,沒有國家能挑戰美國霸權;油價是28美元一桶,聯邦政府還有盈餘,雖然科網泡沫剛爆破不久,但經濟亦正逐漸恢復過來,美國信心十足。但這一切,自美國航空11號班機在8時46分撞向世貿北塔的一刻開始,慢慢瓦解。美國國力在過去10年走下坡,中國等新興國家崛起,經濟重心由西方轉至東方,改寫全球政經格局。

《金融時報》總編輯Lionel Barber撰文稱,911後的地緣政治格局改變,足以跟1815年拿破崙戰敗、1945年二戰結束及1989年東歐共產政權骨牌式倒台的「蘇東波」相比擬,都是時代轉捩點。美國連打兩場反恐戰,開支近2萬億(15.6萬億港元),是越戰的兩倍,但連同利息及退役軍人醫療費用,反恐戰最終成本將高達4萬億美元(31.2萬億港元),相當於2005年至2010年美國累積財赤。

未來十年關注「中國擁有」

10年後,油價在百美元水平徘徊,美國財赤升至1.58萬億美元,失業率達9.1%。反恐戰大傷美國元氣,當美國將整副心力放在阿富汗、伊拉克和巴基斯坦之際,亞洲經濟急飛,本是亞太區一大力量的美國分散了注意力,中國崛起令亞洲出現新形勢。

過去10年其中一個熱門詞彙是「金磚四國」(BRIC)﹕巴西、俄羅斯、印度和中國四大新興國,在2001年11月提出這概念的高盛前首席經濟師奧尼爾(Jim O'Neill)表示,911促成他構思「金磚四國」這概念。渣打銀行首席經濟師Gerard Lyons今年初亦曾表示,過去十年最重要的字詞,不是「反恐戰」,而是「中國製造」,未來十年最重要的字詞將會是「中國擁有」。《經濟學人》上期社評稱,雖然全球權力平衡轉移早在911前開始,但美國的反恐戰,卻令這趨勢更加牢不可破。

美國總統小布殊2001年上台初時曾把中國形容為「戰略競爭對手」,又曾經聲言「不惜一切捍衛台灣」,中美軍機在海南島4月相撞,更令中美關係踏入低潮,到911後美國轉向針對恐怖主義,「放過」中國,因此911是中美關係轉捩點。

911轉移美針對中國策略

香港科技大學社會科學部教授丁學良說,在前蘇聯瓦解後,美國內部對中國主要有兩派意見,一派覺得中國將會取代前蘇聯成為美國的最大敵人,一派覺得全球已沒有國家可以威脅美國。他指出,911前美國領導層以新保守主義佔上風,且當時已做了重要戰略部署,要把美國的戰略武器和海空軍力量東移,這顯然是針對中國,911卻扭轉了這種做法。丁學良說:「『911』發生後,如果不是把上述爭論畫上句號,至少畫上了頓號」。他形容,「這是中國共產黨做夢都想不到的一個好機會」。

提出「軟實力」概念的哈佛大學教授奈伊(Joseph Nye)直言,當世界經濟重心正慢慢向亞洲轉移,美國卻為了一場錯誤的戰爭身陷中東泥沼,911的真實代價,可能是美國打反恐戰的機會成本。
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chin
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« Reply #3 on: 12 September 2011, 04:45:12 »

More from Mingpao.
http://news.mingpao.com/20110911/tab2.htm

A cleaning & efficient government - not the easiest thing to get, anywhere.

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中國增軟實力 端繫清廉政府

911以來的10年,其實也是中國發展的黃金十年。有內地學者認為,從硬實力來看,中美差距縮小,但軟實力方面仍未獲世界認同,尤其在高科技、制度、創新能力等方面依然落後許多,未來10年若要有更大發展,前提是政府要更清明、高效。

學者﹕美多錯誤 勝在清廉

清華大學中美關係研究中心主任孫哲說,過去10年的確是中國發展的黃金十年,美國GDP由中國的10倍距離縮少至2.5倍,「雖然中國經濟總量只佔美國的1/3,但基本態勢是中國每年以8%至9%幅度增長,與美國差距大大縮小。」

孫哲認為,全世界仍然認可美國是唯一超級霸權國家,短期內無人能夠超越,「美國政府雖然犯了很多錯誤,但勝在清廉」。復旦大學美國研究中心主任沈丁立認為,「中國的出口能力很強……(但)包括人民幣到現在還不能完全可自由兌換,我們沒有做到一個更加標準的市場經濟」。

展望未來10年,孫哲認為,只要中國能打造一個清廉、效率高的政府,中國發展應該不會有什麼大問題。
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« Reply #4 on: 12 September 2011, 05:33:14 »

A reflection (starting from the 5th paragraph or so) from a NYT editor. I imagine this is a provocative piece, from the general popular American point of view.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/opinion/09iht-edcohen09.html?ref=global

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Op-Ed Columnist
Imagining 9/11
By ROGER COHEN
Published: September 8, 2011

BELLAGIO, ITALY — My daughter turned four that day. She was in my arms as my wife and I ran down Remsen Street to the Brooklyn Promenade. Smoke from the towers was thickening into a churning cloud. Papers from incinerated brokerage houses fluttered across the East River beneath that sky I think of now as 9/11 blue.
Damon Winter/The New York Times

Journalists are bound to observe which way people are moving and go in the opposite direction. I boarded the No. 2 train at Clark Street. The woman next to me was fighting back tears. Her brother was in the North Tower, she thought. I tried to console her. The subway, one of the last to run, passed beneath the inferno to Times Square.

It was my first day in a new job as an editor. I’d been at my desk 10 minutes when, at 9:59 a.m., the South Tower came down. Adrenalin kicked in: the alchemy of newspapering. Grief suppressed only became irrepressible a couple of days later. A woman searching for her lost husband had tacked to a wall an ultrasound showing an unborn child who would now grow up fatherless. That did it.

The fires burned, fed by molten steel buried deep. They burned for weeks. Sometimes, in certain winds, the acrid-sweet smell below Canal Street carried into Brooklyn, an emetic reminder of what the fires had consumed.

I remember that. One thing 9/11 teaches, a decade on, is that memory is treacherous. It is ever shifting and unscientific, close to imagination, as distinct from history as emotion from form.

How many times since that day have I listened to people around the world expound on their theory of what really happened, based on what they believe they saw. No conspiracy has proved too outlandish or too foul to entertain. I’ve had to restrain myself.

Tell me your 9/11 and I’ll tell you who you are.

Joseph Brodsky once wrote: “If there is any substitute for love, it’s memory. To memorize, then, is to restore intimacy.” That’s not a bad definition of what the best journalism does: restore intimacy. The Portraits of Grief that appeared in The New York Times for months after the attack hit home because they undercut, through the particulars of single lives, Stalin’s formula: Murder en masse and loss becomes a mere statistic.

There followed the nation’s loss — of direction. The early 20th century was a period of giddy American expansion. The early 21st century has been a period of gathering American doubt. The American Century is behind us; this one still seeks its epithet among the emergent powers. What role the attack played in this reshaping of the globe, and what part of it is attributable to the inexorable currents of history, is an open question.

I’d say the power shift was inevitable but accelerated by 9/11 and by chance. Hanging chads contributed. The United States found itself with an accidental president. He took the nation into two wars without preparing the nation for sacrifice. His righteousness brooked no questioning. Irresponsibility was allied to conviction, a heinous marriage. Self-delusion is the mother of perdition. Wars killed. Wall Street made killings. “Whatever” became the watchword of maxed-out Americans; and in time things fell apart.

When they do, extreme ideologies thrive. There must be an enemy within. Scapegoats must be found, compromise crushed. The most devastating effect of 9/11 has been the polarization of America and the incubation of hatred.

The national interest has lost out to settling scores or whipping up bigotry. It is the manipulation of memory — not fit remembrance — that has turned an attack by a band of fanatical Muslims into grounds for the grotesque attempt to ban Shariah law in several U.S. states, and to scurrilous imaginings about President Obama and Islam.

There is a coda to this decade: Hope. Arabs have risen up by the hundreds of millions to claim a dignity and freedom long denied them. The kleptocratic tyrannies they lived under were production lines for the fanaticism behind 9/11; the hypocrisy of Western support for those tyrannies was a great propaganda tool for terrorists. As America has learned of late, change is hard. It will be uneven in the Arab world. But in this transformation a constructive answer to 9/11 is at last being traced.

On one of those scraps of paper that fluttered over the East River I found these words written to my daughter: “I am leaving this world on your birthday. Remember what you see. Write it down. This is what hatred does. Go forth. Embrace love. Seek understanding. Anything can happen. I don’t know if God exists. It might be better for His reputation if He didn’t.”

My little girl is now an adolescent poised on the fulcrum between childhood and womanhood. She used to say her birthday was famous but she’s not. She used to say her birthday is on the day the towers came down. Now she says nothing. That seems wise. There’s enough noise. Silence is remembrance.

I never gave her that note from a departed soul because in fact I imagined it.
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