中国とアメリカは戦争に向かっているのか? 教授、有識者、ジャーナリストは熱くなった話題に加わる。

June 19, 2017 Issue
Are China and the United States Headed for War?
Professors, pundits, and journalists weigh in on a heated topic.
By Ian Buruma


Illustration by Javier Jaen
Overheated topics invjavascript:void(0)ariably produce ill-considered books. Some people will remember the time, in the late nineteen-eighties, when Japan was about to buy up America and conquer the world. Many a tidy sum was made on that premise. These days, the possibility of war with China is stirring emotions and keeping publishers busy. A glance at a few new books suggests what scholars and journalists are thinking about the prospect of an Asian conflagration; the quality of their reflections is, to say the least, variable.

tidy sum:相当なお金
stirring :呼び起こす
to say the least:控えめに言っても

The worst of the bunch, Graham Allison’s “Destined for War” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), may also be the most influential, given that its thesis rests on a catchphrase Allison has popularized, “Thucydides’s Trap.” Even China’s President, Xi Jinping, is fond of quoting it. “On the current trajectory,” Allison contends, “war between the U.S. and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than currently recognized.” The reason, he says, can be traced to the problem described in the fifth century B.C.E. in Thucydides’ account of the Peloponnesian War. Sparta, as the established power, felt threatened by the rising might of Athens. 

Thucydides’s Trap:ツキジデスの罠 戦争が不可避な状態まで従来の覇権国家と、新興の国家がぶつかり合う現象を指す。 アメリカ合衆国の政治学者グレアム・アリソンが作った造語。
Peloponnesian War:ペロポネソス戦争 アテナイを中心とするデロス同盟とスパルタを中心とするペロポネソス同盟との間に発生した、古代ギリシア世界全域を巻き込んだ戦争である。

In such conditions, Allison writes, “not just extraordinary, unexpected events, but even ordinary flashpoints of foreign affairs, can trigger large-scale conflict.” Allison sees Thucydides’ Trap in the wars between a rising England and the established Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century, a rising Germany versus Britain in the early twentieth century, and a rising Japan versus the United States in the nineteen-forties. Some historical tensions between rising powers and ruling ones were resolved without a catastrophic war (the Soviet challenge to U.S. dominance), but many, Allison warns, were not. And there’s no disputing China’s steep military and economic rise in recent decades. Its annual military budget has, for most of the past decade, increased by double digits, and the People’s Liberation Army, even in its newly streamlined form, has nearly a million more active service members than the United States has. 

flashpoints :引火点

As recently as 2004, China’s economy was less than half that of the United States. Today, in terms of purchasing-power parity, China has left the United States behind. Allison is so excited by China’s swift growth that his prose often sounds like a mixture of a Thomas Friedman column and a Maoist propaganda magazine like China Reconstructs. Rome wasn’t built in a day? Well, he writes, someone “clearly forgot to tell the Chinese. By 2005, the country was building the square-foot equivalent of today’s Rome every two weeks.”


Allison underrates the many problems that could slow things down quite soon: China’s population is aging so rapidly that an ever smaller pool of young people will have to support a growing number of old people, who lack proper welfare provisions; the country is an ecological disaster zone; the dead hand of Communist Party control makes necessary economic reforms difficult; innovative thinking is hampered by censorship; and so on. In terms of military hardware—aircraft carriers and the like—China still lags well behind the United States. And the United States has a wide network of allies in Asia, while China has almost none. 

dead hand:執拗な悪い影響

Still, China plainly aspires to be the dominant power in East and Southeast Asia, and this is making the United States and its allies increasingly nervous. Southeast Asians are spooked by Chinese claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea, bolstered by the construction of artificial islands with landing grounds. Japan, although it has a substantial military force, is saddled with a pacifist constitution. South Korea doesn’t quite know whether to resist Chinese domination or cozy up to it. The British historian Michael Howard’s remark about nineteenth-century France, quoted in Allison’s book, could easily apply to the United States today. The “most dangerous of all moods,” Howard said, is “that of a great power which sees itself declining to the second rank.”

landing grounds:着陸地面

Allison finds risks of Thucydides’ Trap on both sides of the divide: the rising power feels frustrated and the established one feels threatened. The thesis, in those general terms, isn’t implausible. His book would be more persuasive, however, if he knew more about China. Allison’s only informants on the subject appear to be Henry Kissinger and the late Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, both of whom he regards with awe. This leads to some odd contradictions and a number of serious historical howlers. 


On one page, quoting Kissinger quoting the ancient military strategist Sun Tzu, Allison assures us that China likes to outclass its enemies without using force. On a later page, he warns us that Chinese leaders may use military force “preemptively to surprise a stronger opponent who would not have done likewise.” Allison says that he wishes, with “my colleague Niall Ferguson,” to set up a council of historians to advise the U.S. President, and yet his own grasp of history appears to be rather shaky.


He imagines that George Kennan’s Long Telegram in 1946 argued that “America could survive only by destroying the USSR, or transforming it”; Kennan’s argument was, rather, that Soviet aggression needed to be contained. Contrary to Lee’s propaganda, Singapore was far from an “inconsequential fishing village” when Lee came to power, in the nineteen-fifties. (It was already a populous and significant port city.)


Twenty-three million Chinese did not flee to Taiwan to escape Mao (the number is more like two million) and build “a successful democracy” (the native Taiwanese mostly did that). And how does Allison know that “few in China would say that political freedoms are more important than reclaiming China’s international standing and national pride”? Lee Kuan Yew may have told him that. But, given the absence of freedom of speech in China, we cannot know.


For all that, China’s challenge to the established postwar order needs to be taken seriously. Gideon Rachman, the Financial Times foreign-affairs commentator, considers China’s increasing clout in the broader context of what he calls, in a remarkably ugly phrase, “Easternization,” which is also the title of his well-written new survey (just published by Other Press). The gravity of economic and military power, he argues, is moving from West to East. He is thinking of more than the new class of Chinese billionaires; he includes India, a country that might one day surpass even China as an economic powerhouse, and reminds us that Japan has been one of the world’s largest economies for some time now.


Tiny South Korea ranks fourteenth in the world in purchasing-power parity. And the Asian megacities are looking glitzier by the day. Anyone who flies into J.F.K. from any of the metropolitan areas in China, let alone from Singapore or Tokyo, can readily see what Rachman has in mind. There is a great deal going on in Asia. The question is what this will mean, and whether “Easternization” is an illuminating concept for understanding it.

by the day:日ごとに

One difficulty is that East and West are slippery categories. The concept of European civilization has at least some measure of coherence. The same can be said for Chinese civilization, extending to Vietnam in the south and Korea in the north. But what unifies “the East”? Korea has almost nothing in common with India, apart from a tenuous connection through ancient Buddhist history. Japan is a staunch U.S. ally and its contemporary culture is, in many respects, closer to the West than to anything particularly Eastern. Previous attempts to create a sense of Pan-Asian solidarity, such as the Japanese imperialist mission in the nineteen-thirties and forties, have been either futile or disastrous.

slippery :掴みどころにない
in many respects:多くの点で

In fact, many of Rachman’s informants belong to an international elite that cannot be easily pinned down to East or West. It is refreshing that he does not depend on Lee Kuan Yew or Henry Kissinger for his knowledge of Asia, but his is still very much a view from the top. This isn’t a criticism: we want to know what senior diplomats, government ministers, heads of state, and well-connected academics think. But, if we’re trying to understand a large number of diverse Asian countries, the approach has its limitations.

Since the struggle for dominance in East and Southeast Asia is the hot topic at hand, the bulk of Rachman’s book concerns that question, and he has interesting things to say about it, even though his conclusion is a trifle lame. He does not argue that China seeks to rule the world. But he does claim, persuasively, that “the question of whether and how the Americans should resist Chinese ambitions in the Asia-Pacific is likely to be the most critical issue in international relations over the coming decades since it pits the world’s two most powerful nations against each other.”

trifle lame:つまらない時代遅れのもの




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