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我本來想用「美國政情」、「美國報導」、或「美國風情」等做本欄標題;但它們或過於狹隘,或大而無當;難以滿足提綱挈領的功能。現在這個標題雖然不夠理想,至少俏皮一些。  

由於當下的熱門話題在「政治」,以下先轉載兩篇這方面的評論。

扎卡瑞阿
先生大作討論美國國力」(本欄第二篇)。我不確定他所引用統計數字和他論點之間的相關性有多大,但一般而言,我同意他的看法。我曾說過,百足之蟲,死而不僵;50 – 100年內美國還是能夠跟中國平起平坐。此之謂:「瘦死的駱駝比馬大」。這也是我一向主張「中美和則兩利,鬥則俱傷」的原因之一。這篇文章甚長,一時之間我也無法全部消化。有空再寫讀後。

教授曾任美國國安和外交官員他的大作從外交政策討論美國明年大選結果對未來走勢的影響(本欄第三篇)。他對美國優越論」基礎的分析,我並不苟同。以後有空再做評論。

除了政治評論外,有機會我會選擇一些其它方面的報導與分析。

我在美國住了近26年,在1993回台定居以前,我在美國的時間比我在中國的時間要長。在美期間,除了工作之外,我也花了些時間了解和接觸美國文化、企業、政治、社會、科技、和人群;雖然都只能說是皮毛,但在「認識美國」上還是不無小補。

如上所說,我真正的成長期在美國,根據「社會建構論」,我的行為與思考方式免不了些許美式「作風」。例如,我的「務實模式」與「現實主義」大都源於過去在美國的生活經驗。此外,我的「行文風格」常常不合中國士大夫「溫柔敦厚」的傳統,除了來自盧卡契的「意識型態」理論外,有一部分也受到美國學者間相互批評文字的影響。

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川普因誹謗罪被判賠償8千3百萬美元 -- Benjamin Weiser等
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Jury Orders Trump to Pay Carroll $83.3 Million After Years of Insults

The ex-president was found liable for sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll, but called her a liar. The award was “a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down,” she said.

Benjamin WeiserJonah E. BromwichMaria Cramer
 and Kate Christobek, 01/26/24

Former President Donald J. Trump was ordered by a Manhattan jury on Friday to pay $83.3 million to the writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her in 2019 after she accused him of a decades-old rape, attacks he continued in social media posts, at news conferences and even in the midst of the trial itself.

Ms. Carroll’s lawyers had argued that a large award was necessary to stop Mr. Trump from continuing to attack her. After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury responded by awarding Ms. Carroll $65 million in punitive damages, finding that Mr. Trump had acted with malice. On one recent day, he made more than 40 derisive posts about Ms. Carroll on his Truth Social website.

On Friday, Mr. Trump had already left the courtroom for the day when the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, called in the nine-member jury shortly after 4:30 p.m., warning the lawyers, “We will have no outbursts.” The verdict was delivered nine minutes later to utter silence in the courtroom.

In addition to the $65 million, jurors awarded Ms. Carroll $18.3 million in compensatory damages for her suffering. Mr. Trump’s lawyers slumped in their seats as the dollar figures were read aloud. The jury was dismissed, and Ms. Carroll, 80, embraced her lawyers. Minutes later, she walked out of the courthouse arm in arm with her legal team, beaming for the cameras.

“This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when she’s been knocked down and a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down,” Ms. Carroll said in a statement, thanking her lawyers effusively.

Mr. Trump, who had walked out of the courtroom earlier during the closing argument by Ms. Carroll’s lawyer, said in a Truth Social post that the verdict was “absolutely ridiculous.”

“Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon,” he said, pledging to appeal. “They have taken away all First Amendment Rights.”

Notably, he did not attack Ms. Carroll.

Outside the courthouse, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, combined complaints about how Judge Kaplan had handled the case with sloganeering, echoing Mr. Trump’s claims that he was being ill-treated by a corrupt system. “We did not win today,” she told reporters, “but we will win.”

Mr. Trump’s appeal will likely keep Ms. Carroll from receiving the money she is owed anytime soon.

Ms. Carroll’s lead lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan, said the verdict “proves that the law applies to everyone in our country, even the rich, even the famous, even former presidents.”

The verdict vastly eclipsed the $5 million a separate jury awarded Ms. Carroll last spring after finding that Mr. Trump had sexually abused her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s and had defamed her in a Truth Social post in October 2022. The verdict came after Mr. Trump attended nearly every day of the latest trial, and testified, briefly, this week.

Judge Kaplan, who presided over both trials, had ruled that the jury’s findings last May would carry over to the current one, limiting the second jury’s focus solely to damages. Mr. Trump, who is running for president again, was not allowed to stray beyond that issue in his testimony. On Thursday, the judge, out of the jury’s presence, asked Ms. Habba for a preview of that testimony. “I want to know everything he is going to say,” the judge said.

In the end, Mr. Trump, by his actions and words, was his own worst enemy. During the trial, he attacked Ms. Carroll online and insulted her last week at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. Inside the courtroom, the judge warned Mr. Trump that he might be excluded after Ms. Carroll’s lawyers complained that he was muttering “con job” and “witch hunt” loudly enough for jurors to hear.

“You saw how he has behaved through this trial,” Ms. Crowley said. “You heard him. You saw him stand up and walk out of this courtroom while Ms. Kaplan was speaking. Rules don’t apply to Donald Trump.”

There could be more financial damage to come for Mr. Trump. He is still awaiting the outcome of a civil fraud trial brought by New York’s attorney general that concluded this month. The attorney general, Letitia James, has asked a judge to levy a penalty of about $370 million on Mr. Trump.

The former president is also contending with four criminal indictments, at least one of which is expected to go to trial before the November election. His civil cases will soon be behind him, but the greater threat — 91 felony charges, in all — still looms.

The verdict on Friday provided a coda to two weeks of political success for Mr. Trump. He completed an Iowa and New Hampshire sweep in the first two presidential nominating states of 2024 and cemented himself as the likely Republican nominee.

He has used his courtroom appearances as a fundamental element of his campaign, painting himself as a political martyr targeted on all sides by Democratic law enforcement officials, as well as by Ms. Carroll. His loss to her will most likely sting for some time.

During the trial, Ms. Carroll testified that Mr. Trump’s repeated taunts and lashing out had mobilized many of his supporters. She said she had faced an onslaught of attacks on social media and in her email inbox that frightened her and “shattered” her reputation as a well-regarded advice columnist for Elle magazine.

Ms. Carroll told the jury she had been attacked on Twitter and Facebook. “I was living in a new universe,” she said.

The trial took about five days over two weeks, and was marked by repeated clashes between Mr. Trump’s lawyers and Judge Kaplan, who is known for his command of the courtroom. The former president’s testimony was highly anticipated for days, but on Thursday, he was on the stand for less than five minutes, and his testimony was notable for how little he ended up saying.

On Friday, Ms. Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, asked the jury in a crisp and methodical summation to award Ms. Carroll enough money to help her repair her reputation and compensate her for the emotional harm Mr. Trump’s attacks had inflicted.

Ms. Kaplan also emphasized that Mr. Trump could afford significant punitive damages, which come into play when a defendant’s conduct is thought to have been particularly malicious. She cited a video deposition excerpt played for the jury in which he estimated that his brand alone was worth “maybe $10 billion” and that the value of various of his real estate properties was $14 billion.

“Donald Trump is worth billions of dollars,” Ms. Kaplan told the jury.

“The law says that you can consider Donald Trump’s wealth as well as his malicious and spiteful continuing conduct in making that assessment,” Ms. Kaplan said, adding, “Now is the time to make him pay for it, and now is the time to make him pay for it dearly.”

Mr. Trump was not present to hear her. After scoffing, muttering and shaking his head throughout the first few minutes of Ms. Kaplan’s closing argument, Mr. Trump rose from the defense table without saying anything, turned and left the 26th-floor courtroom. Ms. Kaplan continued to address the jury as if the stark breach of decorum had not occurred.

“The record will reflect that Mr. Trump just rose and walked out of the courtroom,” Judge Kaplan said.

Mr. Trump returned about 75 minutes later, when his lawyer Ms. Habba began her summation.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers cast Ms. Carroll as a fame-hungry writer who was trying to raise a diminishing profile when she first made her accusation against Mr. Trump in a 2019 book excerpt in New York magazine about an encounter she has said traumatized her for decades.

Ms. Habba, her voice loud and heavy, her tone mocking and sarcastic, argued that Ms. Carroll’s reputation, far from being damaged, had improved as a result of the president’s statements. And she said Ms. Carroll’s lawyers had not proved that the deluge of threats and defamatory statements the writer received were a response to Mr. Trump’s statements.

“No causation,” Ms. Habba thundered, adding, “President Trump has no more control over the thoughts and feelings of social media users than he does the weather.”

Ms. Crowley, in an animated and passionate rebuttal to Ms. Habba, rejected her contention that Mr. Trump’s statements did not prompt the threats Ms. Carroll received. “There couldn’t be clearer proof of causation,” Ms. Crowley said.

The jurors remained attentive during the closing arguments. One watched Ms. Kaplan intently during much of her summation; others alternated between looking at the lawyers, staring at the exhibits on the screens and taking notes.

During the summations, Mr. Trump’s account on his Truth Social website made about 16 posts in 15 minutes mostly attacking Judge Kaplan and Ms. Carroll, with his familiar insults — the kinds of insults that have now become very costly.

Ms. Kaplan said in her closing argument that the only thing that could make Mr. Trump stop his attacks would be to make it too expensive for him to continue.

The jury, in its verdict, appears to have agreed.

Olivia Bensimon, Anusha Bayya, Maggie Haberman, Shane Goldmacher and Michael Gold contributed reporting.

Benjamin Weiser is a reporter covering the Manhattan federal courts. He has long covered criminal justice, both as a beat and investigative reporter. Before joining The Times in 1997, he worked at The Washington Post. More about Benjamin Weiser
Jonah E. Bromwich covers criminal justice in New York, with a focus on the Manhattan district attorney's office, state criminal courts in Manhattan and New York City's jails. More about Jonah E. Bromwich
Maria Cramer is a Times reporter covering the New York Police Department and crime in the city and surrounding areas. More about Maria Cramer

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《兩個總統和兩個美國的大選》讀後
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《從科學理論了解美國政治立場派別化》對造成兩個美國」現象的原因做了理論分析 (本欄2024/01/23)。這篇文章則對此「現象」做了深度報導。兩文合看可以幫助我們了解美國

略做觀察:

1)  集體名詞當專有名詞用的謬誤

這個謬誤源自把事務「簡單化」的傾向,以及不願面對複雜情況的懶惰

請見原文”… when Red and Blue Americas are moving farther and farther apart geographically, philosophically, financially, educationally and informationally.”

以及緊接著的

Americans do not just disagree with each other, they live in different realities, each with its own self-reinforcing Internet-and-media ecosphere.

2)  政治是爭奪資源分配權的活動

這個定義也可以用「凡政策必涉利益」這個命題來表達。

請見原文And this realignment is largely based on the winners and losers in the new 21st century digital economy, and the best predictor of whether you are a winner or loser is your level of education.

」、「的判準在上面這段話的脈絡中是「收入」或「薪資」。以及這一段

Trump has transformed the GOP into the party of the white working class, rooted strongly in rural communities and resentful of globalization, while Biden’s Democrats have increasingly become the party of the more highly educated and economically better off, who have thrived in the information age.

全球化在上面這段話的脈絡中不僅僅指一個「社會現象」;它指的是:和這「現象」相關的「政策」、「制度」、和「措施」等等。後者直接影響個人的「收入」,從而「利益」。

以上引述的兩段原文都提到「教育程度」。「教育程度」是社會階層的「函數」。也就是說,80 - 90%的情況下一個人的出身」已經預先設定了她/他的「教育程度」。套句俗話:「龍生龍,鳳生鳳,老鼠生的兒子只能學打洞」。過去美國學者們津津樂道,引以為傲的「階層流動性目前已經幾乎淪為一攤死水。這是美國社會日趨派別化或二分化的根本原因之一。

一個相關的有趣議題大概十年前我跟一位朋友談到:為什麼台灣「保守派」和「自由派」的界線不分明;也缺乏有活力的「保守主義」或「自由主義」。我當時的直接反應是:台灣沒有根深蒂固的「既得利益」階層,所以沒有值得一提的「保守派」和「保守主義」;台灣只有「貪汙派」和「(混水)摸魚派」以及相對應的「主義」。

3) 
認同政治

請見原文“It is at least partly about ideology, yes, but also fundamentally about race and religion and culture and economics and democracy and retribution and most of all, perhaps, about identity.”

請參看本欄《《從科學理論了解美國政治立場派別化》評介》,第1.2小節、1.3小節、以及2-2)小段等處的評論。

4) 
中、美角力展望

我在美國生活了26總的來說,我接觸到的美國人中,95%都很友善熱誠、和樂於幫助。讀了這篇文章,我真的為大多數美國老百姓感到婉惜和悲哀。另一方面,站在中國人的立場展望中美角力,我或多或少免不了幸災樂禍的欣喜。

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兩個總統和兩個美國的大選 -- Peter Baker
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請參看本欄《從科學理論了解美國政治立場派別化》及其《評介》(2024/01/23)


The Looming Contest Between Two Presidents and Two Americas

The general election matchup that seems likely between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump is about fundamentally disparate visions of the nation.

, 01/25/24

WASHINGTON — Each of them has sat behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, signed bills into law, appointed judges, bartered with foreign leaders and ordered the armed forces into combat. They both know what it is like to be the most powerful person on the planet.

Yet the general election matchup that seems likely after this week’s New Hampshire primary represents more than the first-in-a-century contest between two men who have both lived in the White House. It represents the clash of two presidents of profoundly different countries, the president of Blue America versus the president of Red America.

The looming showdown between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, assuming Nikki Haley cannot pull off a Hail Mary surprise, goes beyond the binary liberal-conservative split of two political parties familiar to generations of Americans. It is at least partly about ideology, yes, but also fundamentally about race and religion and culture and economics and democracy and retribution and most of all, perhaps, about identity.

It is about two vastly disparate visions of America led by two presidents who, other than their age and the most recent entry on their résumés, could hardly be more dissimilar. Biden leads an America that, as he sees it, embraces diversity, democratic institutions and traditional norms, that considers government at its best to be a force for good in society. Trump leads an America where, in his view, the system has been corrupted by dark conspiracies and the undeserving are favored over hardworking everyday people.

Deep divisions in the United States are not new; indeed, they can be traced back to the Constitutional Convention and the days of John Adams versus Thomas Jefferson. But according to some scholars, they have rarely reached the levels seen today, when Red and Blue Americas are moving farther and farther apart geographically, philosophically, financially, educationally and informationally.

Americans do not just disagree with each other, they live in different realities, each with its own self-reinforcing Internet-and-media ecosphere. The Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was either an outrageous insurrection in service of an unconstitutional power grab by a proto-fascist or a legitimate protest that may have gotten out of hand but has been exploited by the other side and turned patriots into hostages.

The two lands have radically different laws on access to abortion and guns. The partisan breakdown is so cemented in 44 states that they effectively already sit in one America or the other when it comes to the fall election. That means they will barely see one of the candidates, who will focus mainly on six battleground states that will decide the presidency.

In an increasingly tribal society, Americans describe their differences more personally. Since Trump’s election in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center, the share of Democrats who see Republicans as immoral has grown from 35% to 63% while 72% of Republicans say the same about Democrats, up from 47%. In 1960, about 4% of Americans said they would be displeased if their child married someone from the other party. By 2020, that had grown to nearly 4 in 10. Indeed, only about 4% of all marriages today are between a Republican and a Democrat.

“Today, when we think about America, we make the essential error of imagining it as a single nation, a marbled mix of red and blue people,” Michael Podhorzer, a former political director of the AFL-CIO, wrote in an essay last month. “But America has never been one nation. We are a federated republic of two nations: Red Nation and Blue Nation. This is not a metaphor; it is a geographic and historical reality.”

The current divide reflects the most significant political realignment since Republicans captured the South and Democrats the North following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. Trump has transformed the GOP into the party of the white working class, rooted strongly in rural communities and resentful of globalization, while Biden’s Democrats have increasingly become the party of the more highly educated and economically better off, who have thrived in the information age.

“Trump was not the cause of this realignment, since it has been building since the early 1990s,” said Douglas B. Sosnik, who was a White House counselor to President Bill Clinton and studies political trends. But “his victory in 2016 and his presidency accelerated these trends. And this realignment is largely based on the winners and losers in the new 21st century digital economy, and the best predictor of whether you are a winner or loser is your level of education.”

The leaders of these two Americas each wield power in their own way. As the current occupant of the White House, Biden has all the advantages and disadvantages of incumbency. But Trump has been acting as an incumbent in a fashion too — he never conceded his 2020 defeat and the majority of his supporters, polls show, believe that he, not Biden, is the legitimate president.

Even without a formal office, Trump has set the agenda for Republicans in Washington and the state capitals. He encouraged the internal coup that took down House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last year after he made a spending deal with Biden. He is advising the current speaker, Mike Johnson, on how to handle the impasse over border policy and security aid for Ukraine.

Many elected Republicans who once stood against Trump, with notable exceptions, have rushed to endorse him in recent weeks as his claim to the party’s presidential nomination has grown almost complete. As a result, it is hard to imagine any major policy deal coming together in Washington this year without Trump’s approval or at least his acquiescence.

The current situation has no exact analog in American history. Only twice before have two presidents faced off against each other. In 1892, former President Grover Cleveland won a rematch against President Benjamin Harrison. In 1912, former President Theodore Roosevelt lost a third-party bid to depose his successor and estranged protégé, President William Howard Taft, but paved the way for victory by the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson.

Neither of those contests reflected the kind of epochal moment that scholars and political professionals see this year. When historians search for parallels, they often point to the period before the Civil War, when an industrializing North and an agrarian South were divided over slavery. While secession today is far-fetched, the fact that it nonetheless comes up in conversation among Democrats in California and Republicans in Texas from time to time indicates how divorced many Americans feel from each other.

“Whenever I mention the 1850s, everyone thinks we are going to have a civil war,” said Sean Wilentz, a Princeton historian who was among a group of scholars who met recently with Biden. “I’m not saying that. It’s not predictive. But when institutions are weakened or changed or transformed the way they have, you can get perspective from history. I think people have yet to understand just how abnormal the situation is.”

Biden and Trump are both historically unpopular presidents. Biden opens his reelection year with an approval rating of just 39% in Gallup polling, the lowest of any elected president at this point going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower. The two are essentially equal in favorability, a slightly different question, with 41% expressing positive feelings about Biden compared with 42% about Trump.

But they represent different electorates. Biden is viewed favorably by 82% of Democrats but only 4% of Republicans. Trump is viewed favorably by 79% of Republicans but only 6% of Democrats.

In Sosnik’s latest analysis, Biden starts the general election with 226 likely votes in the Electoral College and Trump with 235. To get to the 270 needed for victory, one of them will have to harvest some of the 77 votes up for grab in half a dozen states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Because Biden and Trump have both served as president, Americans already know what they think about them. That will make it harder for either to define his opponent with the public the way that President George W. Bush defined John Kerry in 2004 and President Barack Obama defined Mitt Romney in 2012.

But the wild cards this year remain unique nonetheless — an 81-year-old incumbent who is already the oldest president in American history against a 77-year-old predecessor who is facing 91 felony counts in four separate criminal indictments. No one can say for sure how those dynamics will play out over the next 285 days, which Biden and Trump are already treating as the general election presidential campaign.

And while voters may already have some sense of how the winner will operate in the White House over the next four years, it is not at all clear how a divided country will respond to victory by one or the other. Rejectionism, disruption, further schism, even violence all seem possible.

As Wilentz said, “Things are not normal here. I think that’s important for people to understand.”

c.2024 The New York Times Company

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川普的熱情支持者?
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剛剛在《yahoo報導》上看到川普某次造勢大會的現場照片人數稀稀落落。請點擊以下「超連接」(該報導的第二段視頻)。這和本欄01/231319貼文所說有出入(也請參閱本欄同日21:58《評介》)

Jimmy Kimmel Mocks Trump’s ‘Record Crowd’ Brag With 1 Video That Says It All


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0.  前言

阿肯巴哈先生這篇報導/分析頗有看頭(本欄上一篇貼文)。以下略做譯述和評論。原文並無「前言」這個子標題;下一節「前言」指的是”The case of the warring Boy Scouts”前的文字

1.  原文簡要譯述

1.1 
前言(原文無此子標題)

阿肯巴哈先生以新罕普夏州民眾為了進入川普擁擠不堪的造勢會場,冒著酷寒天氣苦等幾個小時;以及民眾一個口令一個動作的熱情;呈現他的支持者是鐵板一塊這個現實。然後引出正題:「政治立場派別化」。這一部份文字是美國報導文學的制式筆法。

接著他報導:社會科學學者們在研究這個政治和文化狀態後的主要結論:「政治立場『派別化』是政治判斷『情緒化』」的結果。

然後他提到:心理和演化過程兩個面向,做為以下文章主體鋪陳的提示。他強調:「取得資源」是以上兩個現象背後的驅動力

最後他指出:「人性」不是「政治立場派別化」的唯一原因;美國獨特的政治制度和操作方式也助長了美國「政治立場派別化」的趨勢。

1.2 
童子軍相互敵視個案

這一節以心理學研究來說明:人從小時候開始,就有尋找同類和認同小圈圈(或「敵我分明」)的傾向。此處他介紹了「情緒性派別化」這個概念。最常見的表現「敵我分明」方式是怨恨和憤怒;而種族、宗教、文化等差異就順理成章的被當做劃清「敵、我」的界線/標誌。

「認同小圈圈」的一個作用是幫助人建立「自我感」。因為:「人不願意承認自己僅僅是各種『(人格)特質』的集合;很自然的,她/他會以為自己代表著一個廣泛的社會、經濟、和文化『類型』」。(以上雖然用了引號,但整段話為意譯;雙引號是我用來加強語氣。)

這裏阿肯巴哈先生提到:美國不是「議會制」而是「總統制」,導致「政治權力」由個別政黨「獨佔」;以及「選區劃分機制兩者也使得「政治立場派別化」變本加厲。

1.3 
物以類聚和派別化

原作者在這一節中以「媒體定型化為例,討論人性「物以類聚」和「同聲相應、同氣相求」等性向。這是大家都熟悉的道理,我就不多著墨了。

他舉了幾個類似「做賊的喊捉賊」例子,顯示人們難以覺察自己是「派別化」受害者的認知偏差。

1.4 
川普利用派別化的功力

阿肯巴哈先生在這一節中以川普和他的競選文宣為例,說明政客如何利用群眾的怨恨和憤怒來操縱老百姓的情緒,加深派別化導致的對立,試圖取得政權。

2. 
評論

1) 
原作者把「政治權力」視為「資源」,以及從「取得資源」來分析政治活動的方法,可說和我的觀點不謀而合

2)  20世紀晚期以來,「認同政治」就是社會科學界的熱門話題,以及政治操盤者的拿手好戲。阿肯巴哈先生這篇文章可以幫助我們了解「認同政治」的某些面向
3) 
把這篇文章和《群眾取向路線走紅是對當前政治趨勢必須做的修正
(該欄12/26/23)與《維護自由主義的歧路(該欄12/25/23)合看,能讓我們看清楚21世紀以來歐美政治大戲的門道。它們也都能佐證拙作《探討民主政治》第23兩節中提出的分析

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從科學理論了解美國政治立場派別化 -- Joel Achenbach
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索引(並請參看本欄下一篇《評介》)

affective polarization:情緒性派別化
cluster:此處指:物以類聚
echo chamber迴聲室效應此處指:同聲相應、同氣相求
group identity:小圈子認同,小圈子定位
identify認同,自我定位
tribalism:同族意識「非我族類其心必異」意識
visceral:此處指:不理性的,情緒化的,本能的
vitriol硫酸()此處指:尖刻的話辛辣的批評

Science is revealing why American politics are so intensely polarized

Political psychologists say they see tribalism intensifying, fueled by contempt for the other side

Joel Achenbach
, 01/20/24

ATKINSON, N.H. — They stood in line for hours, in steady snow that became steady sleet, to hear the leader of their tribe.

Fresh from a major victory in Iowa, former president Donald Trump was scheduled to speak at 5 p.m. The parking lot at the country club opened at 10 a.m. The doors opened at 2 p.m., and hundreds of people were already in line. When everyone finally got inside, most had to stand tightly packed for hours more until the snowstorm-delayed candidate finally arrived just before 7 p.m.

It’s not always logistically easy being in the Trump tribe, but people stuck it out — and when instructed to turn around and express their sentiments directly to the news media, they dutifully booed and raised middle fingers.

The antagonism that Trump supporters feel toward the media is a small piece of a broader political and cultural phenomenon. This country, though politically fractious since its founding, is more polarized than ever, the rhetoric more inflammatory, the rage more likely to curdle into hate. It’s ugly out there.

As the 2024 primary season revs up, and with the political stakes this year extraordinarily high, voters are both polarized and hardly budging. Pundits expect another close election that’s a repeat of 2020. There’s not a lot of wobble on either left or right.

Social scientists have taken note of these hardening political divisions, pumping out academic articles and books that add data to what appears to be a steady rise in tribalism.

One theme emerges in much of the research: Our politics tend be more emotional now. Policy preferences are increasingly likely to be entangled with a visceral dislike of the opposition. The newly embraced academic term for this is “affective polarization.”

“It’s feelings based,” said Lilliana Mason, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University and author of “Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity.” “It’s polarization that’s based on our feelings for each other, not based on extremely divergent policy preferences.”

The tendency to form tightly knit groups has roots in evolution, according to experts in political psychology. Humans evolved in a challenging world of limited resources in which survival required cooperation — and identifying the rivals, the competitors for those resources.

“The evolution of cooperation required out-group hatred, which is really sad,” said Nicholas Christakis, a Yale sociologist and author of “Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society.

This is just as true on today’s political stage. There are two major parties, and their contests are viewed as zero-sum outcomes. Win or lose. The presidency is the ultimate example: There are no consolation prizes for the loser.

No researcher argues that human nature is the sole, or even the primary, cause of today’s polarization. But savvy political operatives can exploit, leverage and encourage it. And those operatives are learning from their triumphs in divide-and-conquer politics.

The case of the warring Boy Scouts

People are instinctively prone to group identification.

“We wouldn’t have civilizations if we didn’t create groups. We are designed to form groups, and the only way to define a group is there has to be someone who’s not in it,” Mason said.

Experiments have revealed that “children as young as two will prefer other children randomly assigned to the same T-shirt color,” Christakis writes.

What’s most striking is that in the process of defining who is in and who is out of a group, enmity and derision can arise independently of any rational reason for it.

Mason and Christakis point to a famous-among-academics experiment from 1954. Social psychologist Muzafer Sherif took 22 Boy Scouts and separated them into two groups camping at Robbers Cave State Park in Oklahoma. Only after a week did they learn that there was another group at the far end of the campground.

What they did next fascinated the research team. Each group developed irrational contempt for the other. The boys in the other group were seen not just as rivals, but as fundamentally flawed human beings. Only when the two groups were asked to work together to solve a common problem did they warm up to one another.

The warring Boy Scouts “have a lot more in common with today’s Democrats and Republicans than we would like to believe,” Mason writes in her book.

“In this political environment, a candidate who picks up the banner of ‘us versus them’ and ‘winning versus losing’ is almost guaranteed to tap into a current of resentment and anger across racial, religious, and cultural lines, which have recently divided neatly by party.”

Shanto Iyengar, a Stanford political psychologist who coined the term “affective polarization,” explained in a 2018 paper why people typically identify with a group.

Homo sapiens is a social species; group affiliation is essential to our sense of self. Individuals instinctively think of themselves as representing broad socioeconomic and cultural categories rather than as distinctive packages of traits,” he wrote.

Here’s where psychology gives way to political science. The American political system may cultivate “out-group” hatred, as academics put it. One of the scarce resources in this country is political power at the highest levels of government. The country has no parliamentary system in which multiple parties form governing coalitions.

Add to this fact the redistricting that ensures there are fewer truly competitive congressional races. The two parties have inexorably moved further apart ideologically, and leaders are more likely to be punished — “primaried” — if they reach across the aisle. And because many more districts are now deeply red or blue, rather than a mix of constituencies, House members have fewer reasons to adopt moderate positions.

How sorting feeds polarization

Human nature hasn’t changed, but technology has. The fragmentation of the media has made it easier to gather information in an echo chamber, Iyengar said. He calls this “sorting.” Not only do people cluster around specific beliefs or ideas, they physically cluster, moving to neighborhoods where residents are likely to look like them and think like them.

Partisan clustering has increased even within households. In 1965, Iyengar said, only about 60 percent of married couples had the same party registration. Today, the figure is greater than 85 percent, he said.

Research shows that affective polarization is intensifying across the political spectrum. Recent survey data revealed that more than half of Republicans and Democrats view the other party as “a threat,” and nearly as many agree with the description of the other party as “evil,” Mason said.

Asked in the summer of 2022 if they agree or disagree that members of the other party “lack the traits to be considered fully human — they behave like animals,” about 30 percent in both parties agreed, Mason’s research shows.

Now, even the partisans fret about polarization.

“We’re on the verge of a civil war, without a doubt,” said Brad Rowe, 40, a Republican who attended the talk of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in Hampton, N.H., on Wednesday and is leaning toward supporting independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Some voters find the polarization confusing, because they don’t see how anyone could possibly support a candidate on the other side. That’s the sentiment of Susan and Peter Delano, both 60, who also came to see DeSantis.

“If you are voting Democrat today, you are supporting Biden. I don’t understand it,” she said.

“We see the polls. We ask: Why are they still voting Democrat?” he said.

David Fox, 60, a limo driver who waited in the frigid line to cheer for Trump in Atkinson, said he thinks President Biden is a liar who stole the 2020 election. Fox is not fond of Democrats generally.

“I think they’re very angry people. I think they don’t hold doors open for people, they don’t wave to people, they don’t say hi to people,” Fox said.

Meanwhile, there are voters who can’t believe their choice this fall may come down to Trump or Biden.

“Trump is terrifying, and Biden I don’t think is cognitively there,” Karl Schumacher, 53, said Wednesday as he waited to hear Nikki Haley in Rochester, N.Y.

Trump’s polarization powers

Though partisan vitriol is intensifying across the spectrum, Trump looms large among researchers on polarization and group identity. He has cultivated an extraordinarily devoted base of supporters who see his long list of felony indictments not as evidence of potential wrongdoing, but as proof that the elites are out to get him.

Meanwhile, his opponents, including Biden, have described him as an aspiring dictator who poses an existential threat to democracy.

Rep. Dean Phillips, a long-shot Democratic candidate on the ballot here in New Hampshire, suggested Thursday that a reelected Trump might defy the constitutional limit on presidential terms and try to remain in power: “There may not be a 2028 [election] if we allow Donald Trump to return to the White House,” Phillips said Thursday during a pitch to New Hampshire voters in Manchester.

In an interview, he explained that he thinks Trump has taken cues from dictators abroad and may try to block the transfer of power: “He’s already tried it once and now he’s on a revenge mission.”

A recent paper published in the journal Science argued that the three core ingredients of political sectarianism are “othering, aversion, and moralization.” Trump has mastered that recipe. He activates emotional responses in his followers by telling them that they are threatened.

“I would give it to Trump: He figured out he could cash in on polarization,” Iyengar said.

Trump, he said, began running for president in 2015 when the country was already divided and he leveraged those divisions. He used inflammatory and racist language that violated political norms, called the media the “enemy of the people,” and promoted a vision of America besieged.

A New Hampshire campaign flier touting Trump shows him pumping his fist and looking combative, and quotes him: “They’re not after me, they’re after you. … And I’m just standing in the way!”

At the Trump rally Tuesday, former Republican presidential rival Vivek Ramaswamy told the crowd, “We are in the middle of a war in this country … between the permanent state and the everyday citizen.”

Trump “is not just saying be afraid. He’s saying, ‘Be angry,’” said Dannagal Young, a professor of communication and political science at the University of Delaware. “Anger is a mobilization emotion because it makes people do things. When you’re angry, you’re angry at someone.”

The media do their part to keep things inflamed. Conflict grabs attention.

“We’re evolutionarily predisposed to pay attention to conflict, because we might be in danger. We don’t turn our head really quickly to look at a beautiful flower. We turn our heads quickly to look at something that may be dangerous,” Mason said.

That’s a part of human nature anyone can exploit.

“There are politicians who are good at this,” Mason said. “Trump is the best.”

Joel Achenbach
covers science and politics for the National desk. He has been a staff writer for The Post since 1990.


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蔣.波其協會:美國當代陰謀論的開山祖師 – Tim Sullivan
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蔣.波其協會一個美國極右派組織;該組織以紀念蔣.波其上尉命名。蔣.波其本人先後任職於陳納德將軍飛虎隊戰略情報局 (OSS,中央情報局CIA 前身)1945年他在中國安徽黃高()執行任務時遭中共游擊隊殺害。詳情請見以上波其協會「超連接」的「歷史」部分。

這個故事可以幫助我們了解美國政治文化的某些面向它也彰顯我有時提到的:「意識型態」以及種種「認知障礙」深遠但難以察覺的影響


In small-town Wisconsin, looking for the roots of the modern American conspiracy theory

, 01/21/24

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — The decades fall away as you open the front doors.

It’s the late 1950s in the cramped little offices — or maybe the pre-hippie 1960s. It’s a place where army-style buzz cuts are still in fashion, communism remains the primary enemy and the decor is dominated by American flags and portraits of once-famous Cold Warriors.

At the John Birch Society, they’ve been waging war for more than 60 years against what they're sure is a vast, diabolical conspiracy. As they tell it, it’s a plot with tentacles that reach from 19th-century railroad magnates to the Biden White House, from the Federal Reserve to COVID vaccines.

Long before QAnonPizzagate and the modern crop of politicians who will happily repeat apocalyptic talking points, there was Birch. And outside these cramped small-town offices is a national political landscape that the Society helped shape.

“We have a bad reputation. You know: ‘You guys are insane,’” says Wayne Morrow, a Society vice president. He is standing in the group’s warehouse amid 10-foot (3-meter) shelves of Birch literature waiting to be distributed.

“But all the things that we wrote about are coming to pass.”

Back when the Cold War loomed and TV was still mostly in black and white, the John Birch Society mattered. There were dinners at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York and meetings with powerful politicians. There was a headquarters on each coast, a chain of bookstores, hundreds of local chapters, radio shows, summer camps for members’ children.

Well-funded and well-organized, they sent forth fevered warnings about a secret communist plot to take over America. It made them heroes to broad swaths of conservatives, even as they became a punchline to a generation of comedians.

“They created this alternative political tradition,” says Matthew Dallek, a historian at George Washington University and author of "Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right.” He says it forged a right-wing culture that fell, at first, well outside mainstream Republican politics.

Conspiracy theories have a long history in the United States, going back at least to 1800, when secret forces were said to be backing Thomas Jefferson’s presidential bid. It was a time when such talk moved slowly, spread through sermons, letters and tavern visits.

No more. Fueled by social media and the rise of celebrity conspiracists, the last two decades have seen ever-increasing numbers of Americans lose faith in everything from government institutions to journalism. And year after year, ideas once relegated to fringe newsletters, little-known websites and the occasional AM radio station pushed their way into the mainstream.

Today, outlandish conspiracy theories are quoted by more than a few U.S. senators, and millions of Americans believe the COVID pandemic was orchestrated by powerful elites. Prominent cable news commentators speak darkly of government agents seizing citizens off the streets.

But the John Birch Society itself is largely forgotten, relegated to a pair of squat buildings along a busy commercial street in small-town Wisconsin.

So why even take note of it today? Because many of its ideas — from anger at a mysterious, powerful elite to fears that America’s main enemy was hidden within the country, biding its time — percolated into pockets of American culture over the last half-century. Those who came later simply out-Birched the Birchers. Says Dallek: “Their successors were politically savvier and took Birch ideas and updated them for contemporary politics.”

The result has been a new political terrain. What was once at the edges had worked its way toward the heart of the discourse.

To some, the fringe has gone all the way to the White House. In the Society's offices, they’ll tell you that Donald Trump would never have been elected if they hadn’t paved the way.

“The bulk of Trump’s campaign was Birch,” Art Thompson, a retired Society CEO who remains one of its most prominent voices, says proudly. “All he did was bring it out into the open.”

There’s some truth in that, even if Thompson is overstating things.

The Society had spent decades calling for a populist president who would preach patriotism, oppose immigration, pull out of international treaties and root out the forces trying to undermine America. Trump may not have realized it, but when he warned about a “Deep State” — a supposed cabal of bureaucrats that secretly controls U.S. policy — he was repeating a longtime Birch talking point.

A savvy reality TV star, Trump capitalized on a conservative political landscape that had been shaped by decades of right-wing talk radio, fears about America’s seismic cultural shifts and the explosive online spread of misinformation.

While the Birch Society echoes in that mix, tracing those echoes is impossible. It's hard to draw neat historical lines in American politics. Was the Society a prime mover, or a bit player? In a nation fragmented by social media and offshoot groups by the dozens, there’s just no way to be sure. What is certain, though, is this:

“The conspiratorial fringe is now the conspiratorial mainstream,” says Paul Matzko, a historian and research fellow at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. “Right-wing conspiracism has simply outgrown the John Birch Society.”

Their beliefs skip along the surface of the truth, with facts and rumors and outright fantasies banging together into a complex mythology. “The great conspiracy” is what Birch Society founder Robert Welch called it in “The Blue Book,” the collection of his writings and speeches still treated as near-mystical scripture in the Society’s corridors.

Welch, a wealthy candy company executive, formed the Society in the late 1950s, naming it for an American missionary and U.S. Army intelligence officer killed in 1945 by communist Chinese forces. Welch viewed Birch as the first casualty of the Cold War. Communist agents, he said, were everywhere in America.

Welch shot to prominence, and infamy, when he claimed that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the hero general of World War II, was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” Also under Kremlin control, Welch asserted: the secretary of state, the head of the CIA, and Eisenhower’s younger brother Milton.

Subtlety has never been a strong Birch tradition. Over the decades, the Birch conspiracy grew to encompass the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, public education, the United Nations, the civil rights movement, The Rockefeller Foundation, the space program, the COVID pandemic, the 2020 presidential election and climate-change activism. In short, things the Birchers don't like.

The plot’s leaders — “insiders,” in Society lexicon — range from railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt to former President George H.W. Bush and Bill Gates, whose vaccine advocacy is, they say, part of a plan to control the global population. While his main focus was always communism, Welch eventually came to believe that the conspiracy's roots twisted far back into history, to the Illuminati, an 18th-century Bavarian secret society.

By the 1980s, the Society was well into its decline. Welch died in 1985 and the society’s reins passed to a series of successors. There were internal revolts. While its aura has waned, it is still a force among some conservatives — its videos are popular in parts of right-wing America, and its offices include a sophisticated basement TV studio for internet news reports. Its members speak at right-wing conferences and work booths at the occasional county fair.

Scholars say its ranks are far reduced from the 1960s and early 1970s, when membership estimates ranged from 50,000 to 100,000. “Membership is something that has been closely guarded since day one,” says Bill Hahn, who became CEO in 2020. He will only say the organization “continues to be a growing operation.”

Today, the Society frames itself as almost conventional. Almost.

“We have succeeded in attracting mainstream people,” says Steve Bonta, a top editor for the Society’s New American magazine. The group has toned down the rhetoric and is a little more careful these days about throwing around accusations of conspiracies. But members still believe in them fiercely.

“As Mr. Welch came out with on Day One: There is a conspiracy,” Hahn says. “It’s no different today than it was back in December 1958.”

It can feel that way. Ask about the conspiracy’s goal, and things swerve into unexpected territory. The sharp rhetoric re-emerges and, once again, the decades seem to fall away.

“They really want to cut back on the population of the Earth. That is their intent,” Thompson says.  

But why?

“Well, that’s a good question, isn’t it?” he responds. “It makes no sense. But that’s the way they think.”


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美國(中、老年人)貧窮、中產、與富有的界線 -- Jeannine Mancini
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Are You Wealthy? The Net Worth You Need To Be Considered Poor, Middle-Class And Wealthy In America

, 12/21/23

In the United States, a person's net worth is a barometer of their financial standing, particularly as they 
approach retirement. This figure, calculated by subtracting liabilities from assets, varies considerably across the population, shaping the retirement lifestyle and economic security of millions.

Finance expert and author Geoff Schmidt 
evaluates retiree wealth using the most recent data from the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

Poor: Households in the 20th percentile, with a net worth of around $10,000, are categorized as poor. This group likely doesn’t own a home and focuses financial resources on necessities​​.

Middle class: The middle class is in the 50th percentile, with a median household net worth of $281,000 for Americans aged 65 and up. This typically includes home equity, savings and a 401(k) account​​​​.

Wealthy: To be considered well off, a person must be in the 90th percentile, possessing a household net worth of $1.9 million. This level of wealth affords trips, charity donations and college funds for children. The 95th percentile, with a net worth of $3.2 million, is considered wealthy, facilitating estate planning and possibly owning multiple homes. The top 1%, or the 99th percentile, has a net worth of $16.7 million and represents the very wealthy, who enjoy considerable financial freedom and luxury​​.

Average And Median Net Worth By Age

Based on 
Zippia data for 2023:

*  Americans aged 55-64: This group has an estimated average net worth of $1.18 million. This figure is significant as it represents people who are typically nearing the end of their working years and are at the peak of their wealth accumulation phase​​​​​​.
Americans aged 65-74: This group has a higher average net worth than the 55-64 age group, at $1.22 million. The increase in average net worth for this age group is likely because of continued asset growth and possibly the beginning of drawing down retirement accounts​​​​​​.
75 and older: This demographic has an average net worth of $977,600, which is lower than the younger age groups. This decrease can be attributed to the fact that people in this age group are further into their retirement and may be drawing down their assets more significantly​

Wealth Perception In America

According to Schwab's 2023 Modern Wealth Survey, Americans perceive an average net worth of $2.2 million as wealthy​​​​.

Knight Frank’s research indicates that a net worth of $4.4 million is required to be in the top 1% in America, a figure much higher than in countries like Japan, the U.K. and Australia​​.

Economic Class Net Worth

A growing number of Americans are entering retirement with debt. The proportion of households led by people aged 65 and older with debt increased from 38% in 1989 to 61% in 2016. 
CNBC reports debt among those aged 70 and up surged by 614% from 1999 to 2021, with mortgages constituting the majority of the debt​​.

The Importance Of Financial Planning

Net worth at retirement age in the U.S. varies considerably and is shaped by elements such as homeownership, savings and debt. While the middle class and wealthy often experience financial security, a notable segment of the population confronts economic difficulties. This disparity underscores the critical role of financial planning and management, including the valuable 
assistance of financial advisers, in ensuring a stable financial future throughout life.

This article 
Are You Wealthy? The Net Worth You Need To Be Considered Poor, Middle-Class And Wealthy In America originally appeared on Benzinga.com

© 2023 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

*  The average American couple has saved this much money for retirement —
 How do you compare?
Can you guess how many Americans successfully retire with $1,000,000 saved?
 The percentage may shock you.

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美國實力的基礎 ------- Jake Sullivan
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胡卜凱

沙利文博士為現任美國白宮國安顧問。下文可視為拜登政府過去、當下、和未來一年內的外交政策藍圖。全文高達近7,000字;我要讀完都難,更不必說分析和評論了。這是我遲遲沒有轉載它的原因之一。為了免得失去時效,先刊出於此。對美國外交政策有興趣的朋友,可以對照本欄前四篇文章一起看。


The Sources of American Power

A Foreign Policy for a Changed World

Jake Sullivan, November/December 2023, Published on 10/24/23

Nothing in world politics is inevitable. The underlying elements of national power, such as demography, geography, and natural resources, matter, but history shows that these are not enough to determine which countries will shape the future. It is the strategic decisions countries make that matter most—how they organize themselves internally, what they invest in, whom they choose to align with and who wants to align with them, which wars they fight, which they deter, and which they avoid.

When President Joe Biden took office, he recognized that U.S. foreign policy is at an inflection point, where the decisions Americans make now will have an outsize impact on the future. The United States’ underlying strengths are vast, both in absolute terms and relative to other countries. The United States has a growing population, abundant resources, and an open society that attracts talent and investment and spurs innovation and reinvention. Americans should be optimistic about the future. But U.S. foreign policy was developed in an era that is fast becoming a memory, and the question now is whether the country can adjust to the main challenge it faces: competition in an age of interdependence.

The post–Cold War era was a period of great change, but the common thread throughout the 1990s and the years after 9/11 was the absence of intense great-power competition. This was mainly the result of the United States’ military and economic preeminence, although it was widely interpreted as evidence that the world agreed on the basic direction of the international order. That post–Cold War era is now definitively over. Strategic competition has intensified and now touches almost every aspect of international politics, not just the military domain. It is complicating the global economy. It is changing how countries deal with shared problems such as climate change and pandemics. And it is posing fundamental questions about what comes next.

Old assumptions and structures must be adapted to meet the challenges the United States will face between now and 2050. In the previous era, there was reluctance to tackle clear market failures that threatened the resilience of the U.S. economy. Since the U.S. military had no peer, and as a response to 9/11, Washington focused on nonstate actors and rogue nations. It did not focus on improving its strategic position and preparing for a new era in which competitors would seek to replicate its military advantages, since that was not the world it faced at the time. Officials also largely assumed that the world would coalesce to tackle common crises, as it did in 2008 with the financial crisis, rather than fragment, as it would do in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic. Washington too often treated international institutions as set in stone without addressing the ways in which they were exclusive and did not represent the broader international community.

The overall effect was that although the United States remained the world’s preeminent power, some of its most vital muscles atrophied. On top of this, with the election of Donald Trump, the United States had a president who believed that its alliances were a form of geopolitical welfare. The steps he took that damaged those alliances were celebrated by Beijing and Moscow, which correctly saw U.S. alliances as a source of American strength rather than as a liability. Instead of acting to shape the international order, Trump pulled back from it.

This is what President Biden was faced with when he took office. He was determined not just to repair the immediate damage to the United States’ alliances and its leadership of the free world but also to pursue the long-term project of modernizing U.S. foreign policy for the challenges of today. This task was brought into stark relief by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, as well as by China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea and across the Taiwan Strait.

The essence of President Biden’s foreign policy is to lay a new foundation of American strength so that the country is best positioned to shape the new era in a way that protects its interests and values and advances the common good. The country’s future will be determined by two things: whether it can sustain its core advantages in geopolitical competition and whether it can rally the world to address transnational challenges from climate change and global health to food security and inclusive economic growth.


At a fundamental level, this requires changing the way the United States thinks about power. This administration came to office believing that international power depends on a strong domestic economy and that the strength of the economy is measured not just by its size or efficiency but also by the degree to which it works for all Americans and is free of dangerous dependencies. We understood that American power also rests on its alliances but that these relationships, many of which date back more than seven decades, had to be updated and energized for the challenges of today. We realized that the United States is stronger when its partners are, too, and so we are committed to delivering a better value proposition globally to help countries solve pressing problems that no one country can solve on its own. And we recognized that Washington could no longer afford an undisciplined approach to the use of military force, even as we have mobilized a massive effort to defend Ukraine and stop Russian aggression. The Biden administration understands the new realities of power. And that is why we will leave America stronger than we found it.

THE HOME FRONT

After the Cold War, the United States underweighted the importance of investing in economic vibrancy at home. In the decades following World War II, the country had pursued a policy of bold public investment, including in R & D and in strategic sectors. That strategy underpinned its economic success, but over time, the United States moved away from it. The U.S. government designed trade policies and a tax code that placed insufficient focus on both American workers and the planet. In the exuberance at “the end of history,” many observers asserted that geopolitical rivalries would give way to economic integration, and most believed that new countries brought into the international economic system would adjust their policies to play by the rules. As a result, the U.S. economy developed worrying vulnerabilities. While at an aggregate level it thrived, under the surface, whole communities were hollowed out. The United States ceded the lead in critical manufacturing sectors. It failed to make the necessary investments in its infrastructure. And the middle class took a hit.

President Biden has prioritized investing in innovation and industrial strength at home—what has become known as “Bidenomics.” These public investments are not about picking winners and losers or bringing globalization to an end. They enable rather than replace private investment. And they enhance the United States’ capacity to deliver inclusive growth, build resilience, and protect national security.

The Biden administration has enacted the most far-reaching new investments in decades, including the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. We are promoting new breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, clean energy, and semiconductors while protecting the United States’ advantages and security through new export controls and investment rules, in partnership with allies. These policies have made a difference. Large-scale investments in semiconductor and clean energy production are up 20-fold since 2019. We now estimate that public and private investment in these sectors will total $3.5 trillion over the next decade. And construction spending on manufacturing has doubled since the end of 2021.

In recent decades, the United States’ supply chains for critical minerals had become heavily dependent on unpredictable overseas markets, many of which are dominated by China. This is why the administration is working to build resilient, durable supply chains with partners and allies in vital sectors—including semiconductors, medicine and biotechnology, critical minerals, and batteries—so that the United States is not vulnerable to price or supply disruptions. Our approach encompasses minerals that are important to all aspects of national security, understanding that the communications, energy, and computing sectors are as essential as the traditional defense sector. All this has put the United States in a position to better absorb attempts by external powers to limit American access to critical inputs.


When this administration took office, we found that although the U.S. military is the strongest in the world, its industrial base suffered from a series of unaddressed vulnerabilities. After years of underinvestment, an aging workforce, and supply chain disruptions, important defense sectors had become weaker and less dynamic. The Biden administration is rebuilding those sectors, doing everything from investing in the submarine industrial base to producing more critical munitions so that the United States can make what is necessary to sustain deterrence in competitive regions. We are investing in the U.S. nuclear deterrent to ensure its continued effectiveness as competitors build up their arsenals while signaling openness to future arms control negotiations if competitors are interested. We are also partnering with the most innovative labs and companies to ensure that the United States’ superior conventional capabilities take advantage of the latest technologies.


Future administrations may differ from ours on the details of how to harness the domestic sources of national strength. That is a legitimate topic for debate. But in a more competitive world, there can be no doubt that Washington needs to break down the barrier between domestic and foreign policy and that major public investments are an essential component of foreign policy. President Dwight Eisenhower did this in the 1950s. We are doing it again today, but in partnership with the private sector, in coordination with allies, and with a focus on today’s cutting-edge technologies.


ALL TOGETHER NOW

The United States’ alliances and partnerships with other democracies have been its greatest international advantage. They helped create a freer and more stable world. They helped deter aggression or reverse it. And they meant that Washington never had to go it alone. But these alliances were built for a different era. In recent years, the United States was underutilizing or even undermining them.


President Biden was clear from the moment he took office about the importance he attached to U.S. alliances, especially given his predecessor’s skepticism of them. But he understood that even those who supported these alliances over the past three decades often overlooked the need to modernize them for competition in an age of interdependence. Accordingly, we have strengthened these alliances and partnerships in material ways that improve the United States’ strategic position and its ability to deal with shared challenges. For example, we have mobilized a global coalition of countries to support Ukraine as it defends itself against an unprovoked war of aggression and to impose costs on Russia. NATO has expanded to include Finland, soon to be followed by Sweden—two historically nonaligned nations. NATO has also adjusted its posture on its eastern flank, deployed a capability to respond to cyberattacks against its members, and invested in its air and missile defenses. And the United States and the EU have dramatically deepened cooperation on economics, energy, technology, and national security.


We are doing something similar in Asia. In August, we held a historic summit at Camp David that cemented a new era of trilateral cooperation among the United States, Japan, and South Korea while bringing the United States’ bilateral alliances with those countries to new heights. In the face of North Korea’s dangerous and illicit nuclear and missile programs, we are working to ensure that the United States’ extended deterrence is stronger than ever so that the region remains peaceful and stable. That is why we concluded the Washington Declaration with South Korea and why we’re advancing extended trilateral deterrence discussions with Japan, as well.


Through AUKUS—the trilateral security partnership among the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom—we have integrated the three countries’ defense industrial bases to produce conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines and increase cooperation on advanced capabilities such as artificial intelligence, autonomous platforms, and electronic warfare. Access to new sites through a defense cooperation agreement with the Philippines strengthens the United States’ strategic posture in the Indo-Pacific. In September, President Biden traveled to Hanoi to announce that the United States and Vietnam were elevating their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership. The Quad, which brings together the United States, Australia, India, and Japan, has unleashed new forms of regional cooperation on technology, climate, health, and maritime security. We are also investing in a twenty-first-century partnership between the United States and India—for example, with the U.S.-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology. And through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, we are deepening trade relationships and negotiating first-of-their-kind agreements on supply chain resilience, the clean energy economy, and anticorruption and tax cooperation with 13 diverse partners in the region.


The administration is strengthening U.S. partnerships outside Asia and across traditional regional seams. Last December, at the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit since 2014, the United States made a series of historic commitments, including supporting the African Union’s membership in the G-20 and signing a memorandum of understanding with the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, an effort that would create a combined continent-wide market of 1.3 billion people and $3.4 trillion. Earlier in 2022, we galvanized hemispheric action on migration through the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection and launched the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, an initiative to drive the Western Hemisphere’s economic recovery. We also stood up a new coalition with India, Israel, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates, known as I2U2. It brings together South Asia, the Middle East, and the United States through joint initiatives on water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security. This September, the United States joined with 31 other countries across North America, South America, Africa, and Europe to create the Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation to invest in science and technology, promote the sustainable use of the ocean, and stop climate change. We have formed a new global cyber-partnership, bringing together 47 countries and international organizations to counter the scourge of ransomware.


These are not isolated efforts. They are part of a self-reinforcing latticework of cooperation. The United States’ closest partners are fellow democracies, and we will work vigorously to defend democracy across the globe. The Summit for Democracy, which the president first convened in 2021, has created an institutional basis for deepening democracy and advancing governance, anticorruption, and human rights—and getting fellow democracies to own the agenda alongside Washington. But the range of countries supporting Washington’s vision of a free, open, prosperous, and secure world is broad and powerful, and it includes those with diverse political systems. We will work with any country prepared to stand up for the principles of the UN Charter even as we shore up transparent and accountable governance and support democratic reformers and human rights defenders.


We are also growing the connective tissue between U.S. alliances in the Indo-Pacific and in Europe. The United States is stronger in each region because of its alliances in the other. Allies in the Indo-Pacific are staunch supporters of Ukraine, while allies in Europe are helping the United States support peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The president’s efforts to strengthen alliances are also contributing to the greatest amount of burden sharing in decades. The United States is asking its allies to step up while also offering more itself. Roughly 20 NATO countries are on track to meet the target of spending two percent of their GDPs on defense in 2024, up from just seven countries in 2022. Japan has promised to double its defense budget and is purchasing U.S.-made Tomahawk missiles, which will enhance its deterrence of nuclear-armed competitors in the region. As part of AUKUS, Australia is making the biggest single investment in defense capability in its history while also investing in the U.S. defense industrial base. Germany has become the third-largest supplier of weapons to Ukraine and is weaning itself off Russian energy.


A BETTER DEAL

The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic showed that if the United States is unwilling to lead efforts to solve global problems, no one else will step into the breach. In 2020, many world leaders were barely on speaking terms. The G-7 struggled to coalesce when COVID-19 struck. Instead of coordinating closely, countries undertook disparate efforts that made the pandemic more severe than it might otherwise have been. President Biden and his team have always believed that the United States has a crucial role to play in spurring international cooperation, whether on the global economy, health, development, or the environment. But the shocking experience of a global crisis without global leadership seared this into the president’s worldview. As we looked at the daunting array of global challenges, we realized that we would not just have to restore U.S. leadership; we would also need to up our game and offer the world, especially the global South, a better value proposition.


Much of the world is not preoccupied with geopolitical contests; most countries want to know that they have partners that can help them address the problems they confront, some of which feel existential. For these countries, the complaint is not that there is too much America but too little. Yes, they say, we see the pitfalls of getting closer to major authoritarian powers, but where is your alternative? President Biden understands this. Where the United States was absent, it is now competitive. Where it was competitive, it is now leading with urgency and purpose. And it is doing that in partnership with other countries, figuring out how to solve pressing problems together.


The United States has maintained its long-standing leadership on global development, sustained its vital investments in health and food security, and remained
the leading provider of humanitarian assistance and emergency food aid at a time of unprecedented global need. President Biden is now leading a global effort to raise ambitions even higher. The United States is placing priority on driving progress toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It is scaling up multilateral development banks, mobilizing the private sector, and helping countries unlock domestic capital. As a cornerstone of this effort, the administration is modernizing the World Bank so it can address today’s challenges with sufficient speed and scale, and we are working with partners to significantly increase the bank’s financing, including to low- and middle-income countries. We are also pressing for solutions to help vulnerable countries quickly and transparently address unsustainable debt, freeing up resources for them to invest in their futures rather than make backbreaking debt payments.

In recent years, China’s Belt and Road Initiative was dominant, and the United States lagged behind in large-scale infrastructure investment in developing countries. Now, the United States is mobilizing hundreds of billions of dollars in capital through the G-7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment to support physical, digital, clean-energy, and health infrastructure across developing countries.


The United States has led the way on global health. It is investing more than ever to end epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria as public health threats by 2030. It donated almost 700 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 115 countries and nearly half of all global pandemic response funds, and it remains vigilant about emerging threats. It is helping 50 countries prepare, prevent, and respond to the next health emergency. Most people likely have not heard about the recent outbreaks of Marburg virus disease or Ebola, because we learned the lessons of the 2014 West African Ebola epidemic and responded before outbreaks in East, Central, and West Africa went global.


No country can offer a credible value proposition to the world if it is not serious about climate change. The Biden administration inherited a massive gap between ambition and reality when it comes to carbon mitigation. The United States is now driving the global deployment of clean energy technology at scale. For the first time, the country will meet its national commitment under the Paris agreement to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions and the global commitment to mobilize $100 billion a year for developing countries to deal with climate change. It has launched joint initiatives such as the Just Energy Transition Partnership with Indonesia, which will accelerate that country’s power sector transition with support from public and private sources.


New fit-for-purpose partnerships are not meant to replace existing international institutions. The Biden administration is working to reinforce and reinvigorate those institutions, updating them for the world we face today. In addition to modernizing the World Bank, the president has also proposed giving developing countries a greater say at the International Monetary Fund. The administration will continue to try to reform the World Trade Organization so it can drive the clean energy transition, protect workers, and promote inclusive and sustainable growth while continuing to uphold competition, openness, transparency, and the rule of law. The president has called for far-reaching reforms to the UN Security Council to expand the number of members, both permanent and nonpermanent, and make it more effective and representative.


The president also knows that countries need to be able to cooperate on challenges that were unfathomable not that long ago. That need is particularly urgent with respect to artificial intelligence. This is why we brought together the leading U.S. businesses responsible for AI innovation to make a series of voluntary commitments to develop AI in ways that are safe, secure, and transparent. It is why the U.S. government itself has made commitments to this end, issuing in February a declaration on the responsible military use of AI. And it is why we are building on these initiatives by working with U.S. allies, partners, and other countries to develop strong rules and principles to govern AI.

Delivering a better value proposition is a work in progress, but it is a vital pillar of a new foundation of American strength. Not only is it the right thing to do; it also serves U.S. interests. Helping other countries get stronger makes America stronger and more secure. It creates new partners and better friends. We will continue to build America’s affirmative offering to the world. It is absolutely necessary if the United States is to win the competition to shape the future of the international order so that it is free, open, prosperous, and secure.

PICK YOUR BATTLES

In the 1990s, U.S. defense policy was dominated by questions about whether and how to intervene in war-torn countries to prevent mass atrocities. After 9/11, the United States shifted its focus to terrorist groups. The risk of great-power conflict appeared remote. That began to change with Russia’s invasions of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, as well as with China’s breakneck military modernization and its growing military provocations in the East China and South China Seas and the Taiwan Strait. But America’s priorities had not adapted fast enough to the challenges of deterring great-power aggression and responding once it occurred.

President Biden was determined to adapt. He ended U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history, and freed the United States from sustaining military forces in active hostilities for the first time in two decades. This transition was unquestionably painful—especially for the people of Afghanistan and for the U.S. troops and other personnel who served there. But it was necessary for preparing the U.S. military for the challenges ahead. One of those challenges came even more quickly than we had anticipated, with Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. If the United States were still fighting in Afghanistan, it is highly likely that Russia would be doing everything it could right now to help the Taliban pin Washington down there, preventing it from focusing its attention on helping Ukraine.

Even as our priorities shift away from major military interventions, we remain ready to deal with the enduring threat of international terrorism. We have acted over the horizon in Afghanistan—most notably with the operation that killed the head of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri—and we have taken other terrorist targets off the battlefield in Somalia, Syria, and elsewhere. We will continue to do so. But we will also avoid the protracted forever wars that can tie down U.S. forces and that do little to actually reduce the threats to the United States.

With respect to the Middle East more generally, the president inherited a region that was highly pressurized. The original version of this article, written before the October 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, emphasized the progress in the Middle East after two decades marked by a massive U.S. military intervention in Iraq, a NATO military campaign in Libya, raging civil wars, refugee crises, the rise of a self-declared terrorist caliphate, revolutions and counterrevolutions, and the breakdown in relations among key countries in the region. It described our efforts to return to a disciplined U.S. policy approach that prioritized deterring aggression, de-escalating conflicts, and integrating the region through joint infrastructure projects, including between Israel and its Arab neighbors. There was material progress. The war in Yemen had reached its 18th month of a truce. Other conflicts had cooled. Regional leaders openly worked together. In September, the president announced a new economic corridor that connects India to Europe through the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel.

The original version of this article emphasized that this progress was fragile and that perennial challenges remained, including tensions between Israel and Palestinians and the threat posed by Iran. The October 7 attacks have cast a shadow over the entire regional picture, the repercussions of which are still playing out, including the risk of significant regional escalation. But the disciplined approach in the Middle East that we have pursued remains core to our posture and planning as we deal with this crisis.

As President Biden demonstrated when he traveled to Israel in a rare wartime visit on October 18, the United States firmly supports Israel as it protects its citizens and defends itself against brutal terrorists. We are working closely with regional partners to facilitate the sustainable delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians in the Gaza Strip. And the president has repeatedly made clear that the United States stands for the protection of civilian life during conflict and respect for the laws of war. Hamas, which has committed atrocities that recall the worst ravages of ISIS, does not represent the Palestinian people, and it does not stand for their right to dignity and self-determination. We are committed to a two-state solution that does. In fact, our discussions with Saudi Arabia and Israel toward normalization have always included significant proposals for the Palestinians. If agreed, this component would ensure that a path to two states remains viable, with significant and concrete steps taken in that direction by all relevant parties. 

We are alert to the risk that the current crisis could spiral into a regional conflict. We have conducted extensive diplomatic outreach and enhanced our military force posture in the region. Since the beginning of this administration, we have acted militarily when necessary to protect U.S. personnel. We are committed to ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. And while military force must never be a tool of first resort, we stand ready and prepared to use it when necessary to protect U.S. personnel and interests in this important region.

The crisis in the Middle East does not change the fact that the United States needs to prepare for a new era of strategic competition—in particular by deterring and responding to great-power aggression. When we found out that Russian President Vladimir Putin was preparing to invade Ukraine, we were confronted with a challenge: the United States was not committed by treaty to Ukraine’s defense, but if Russia’s aggression went unanswered, a sovereign state would be extinguished, and a message would be sent to autocrats around the world that might makes right. We sought to avert the crisis by making it clear to Russia that the United States would respond by supporting Ukraine and by displaying a willingness to engage in talks on European security, even though Russia was not serious about doing so. We also used the deliberate and authorized public release of intelligence to warn Ukraine, rally U.S. partners, and deprive Russia of the ability to create false pretexts for its invasion.

When Putin invaded, we implemented a policy to help Ukraine defend itself without sending U.S. troops to war. The United States dispatched massive quantities of defensive weapons to the Ukrainians and rallied allies and partners to do the same. It coordinated the immense logistical undertaking to deliver those capabilities to the battlefield. This assistance has been divided into 47 different packages of military assistance to date, which were structured to respond to Ukraine’s needs as they evolved over the course of the conflict. We cooperated closely with the Ukrainian government on its requirements and worked through technical and logistical details to make sure its forces had what they needed. We also increased U.S. intelligence cooperation with Ukraine, as well as training efforts. And we imposed far-reaching sanctions on Russia to reduce its ability to wage war.

President Biden also made it abundantly clear that if Russia attacked a NATO ally, the United States would defend every inch of allied territory, backing that up with new force deployments. We started a process with U.S. allies and partners to help Ukraine build a military that could defend itself on land, at sea, and in the air—and deter future aggression. Our approach in Ukraine is sustainable, and, contrary to those who say otherwise, it enhances the United States’ capacity to meet every contingency in the Indo-Pacific. The American people know a bully when they see one. They understand that if they were to pull U.S. support from Ukraine, it would not just put Ukrainians at a severe disadvantage as they defend themselves but also set a terrible precedent, encouraging aggression in Europe and beyond. American support for Ukraine is broad and deep, and it will endure.

THE COMPETITION TO COME

It is clear that the world is becoming more competitive, that technology will be a disruptive force, and that shared problems will become more acute over time. But it is not clear precisely how these forces will manifest themselves. The United States has been surprised in the past (with the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990), and it will likely be surprised in the future, no matter how hard the government works to anticipate what is coming (and U.S. intelligence agencies have gotten a lot right, including accurately warning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022). Our strategy is designed to work in a wide variety of scenarios. By investing in the sources of domestic strength, deepening alliances and partnerships, delivering results on global challenges, and staying disciplined in the exercise of power, the United States will be prepared to advance its vision of a free, open, prosperous, and secure world no matter what surprises are in store. We have created, in Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s words, “situations of strength.”

The coming era of competition will be unlike anything experienced before. European security competition in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was largely a regional contest between midsize and proximate powers that ultimately ended in calamity. The Cold War that followed the most destructive war in human history was waged between two superpowers that had very low levels of interdependence. That ended decisively and in America’s favor. Today’s competition is fundamentally different. The United States and China are economically interdependent. The contest is truly global, but not zero-sum. The shared challenges the two sides face are unprecedented.

We are often asked about the end state of U.S. competition with China. We expect China to remain a major player on the world stage for the foreseeable future. We seek a free, open, prosperous, and secure international order, one that protects the interests of the United States and its friends and delivers global public goods. But we do not expect a transformative end state like the one that resulted from the collapse of the Soviet Union. There will be an ebb and flow to the competition—the United States will make gains, but China will, too. Washington must balance a sense of urgency with patience, understanding that what matters is the sum of its actions, not winning a single news cycle. And we need a sustained sense of confidence in our capacity to outcompete any country. The past two and a half years have upended assumptions on the relative trajectories of the United States and China.

The United States continues to enjoy a substantial trade and investment relationship with China. But the economic relationship with China is complicated because the country is a competitor. We will make no apology in pushing back on unfair trade practices that harm American workers. And we are concerned that China can take advantage of America’s openness to use U.S. technologies against the United States and its allies. Against this backdrop, we seek to “de-risk” and diversify, not decouple. We want to protect a targeted number of sensitive technologies with focused restrictions, creating what some have called “a small yard and a high fence.” We have faced criticism from various quarters that these steps are mercantilist or protectionist. This is untrue. These are steps taken in partnership with others and focused on a narrow set of technologies, steps that the United States needs to take in a more contested world to protect its national security while supporting an interconnected global economy.

At the same time, we are deepening technological cooperation with like-minded partners and allies, including with India and through the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, a forum created in 2021. We will keep investing in the United States’ own capacities and in secure, resilient supply chains. And we will keep advancing an agenda that promotes workers’ rights in pursuit of decent, safe, and healthy work at home and abroad to create a level playing field for American workers and companies.

At times, the competition will be intense. We are prepared for that. We are pushing back hard on aggression, coercion, and intimidation and standing up for the basic rules of the road, such as freedom of navigation in the sea. As Secretary of State Antony Blinken put it in a speech in September, “America’s enlightened self-interest in preserving and strengthening this order has never been greater.” We also understand that the United States’ competitors, particularly China, have a fundamentally different vision.

But Washington and Beijing need to figure out how to manage competition to reduce tensions and find a way forward on shared challenges. That is why the Biden administration is intensifying U.S. diplomacy with China, preserving existing channels of communication and creating new ones. Americans have internalized some of the lessons of the crises of decades past, especially the potential to stumble into conflict. High-level and repeated interaction is crucial to clear up misperception, avoid miscommunication, send unambiguous signals, and arrest downward spirals that could erupt into a major crisis. Unfortunately, Beijing has often appeared to have drawn different lessons about managing tensions, concluding that guardrails can fuel competition in the same way that seat belts encourage reckless driving. (It is a mistaken belief. Just as the use of seat belts cuts traffic fatalities in half, so do communication and basic safety measures reduce the risk of geopolitical accidents.) Recently, however, there have been encouraging signs that Beijing may recognize the value of stabilization. The real test will be if the channels can endure when tensions inevitably spike.

We should also remember that not everything competitors do is incompatible with U.S. interests. The deal that China brokered this year between Iran and Saudi Arabia partially reduced tensions between those two countries, a development that the United States also wants to see. Washington could not have tried to broker that deal, given the lack of U.S. diplomatic relations with Iran, and it should not try to undermine it. To take another example, the United States and China are engaged in a rapid and high-stakes technological competition, but the two sides need to be able to work together on the risks that arise from artificial intelligence. Doing so is not a sign of going wobbly. It reflects a clear-eyed assessment that AI could pose unique challenges to humanity and that great powers have a collective responsibility to deal with them.

It is only natural that countries aligned with neither the United States nor China will engage with both, seeking to benefit from the competition while endeavoring to protect their own interests from any spillover effects. Many of these countries see themselves as part of the global South, a grouping that has a logic of its own and a distinct critique of the West that dates back to the Cold War and the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement. Unlike during the Cold War, however, the United States will avoid the temptation to see the world solely through the prism of geopolitical competition or treat these countries as places for proxy contests. It will instead continue to engage with them on their own terms. Washington should be realistic about its expectations when dealing with these countries, respecting their sovereignty and their right to make decisions that advance their own interests. But it also needs to be clear about what is most important to the United States. That is how we will seek to shape relations with them: so that on balance they have incentives to act in ways consistent with U.S. interests.

In the decade ahead, U.S. officials will spend more time than they did the past 30 years talking with countries that they disagree with, often on fundamental issues. The world is becoming more contested, and the United States cannot talk only with those who share its vision or values. We will keep working to shape the overall diplomatic landscape in ways that advance both U.S. and shared interests. For instance, when China, Brazil, and a group of seven African countries announced that they would pursue peace efforts to end Russia’s war in Ukraine, we did not reject these initiatives on principle; we called on these countries to talk with Ukrainian officials and offer assurances that their proposals for a settlement would be consistent with the UN Charter.

Some of the seeds we are planting now—investments in advanced technology, for instance, or the AUKUS submarines—will take many years to bear fruit. But there are also some issues on which we can and will act now, what we call our “unfinished business.” We have to ensure a Ukraine that is sovereign, democratic, and free. We have to strengthen peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. We have to advance regional integration in the Middle East while continuing to check Iran. We have to modernize the United States’ military and defense industrial base. And we have to deliver on infrastructure, development, and climate commitments to the global South.

UP TO US

The United States has reached the third phase of the global role it assumed following World War II. In the first phase, the Truman administration laid the foundation of American power to accomplish two objectives: strengthening democracies and democratic cooperation and containing the Soviet Union. This strategy, carried on by subsequent presidents, included a comprehensive effort to invest in American industry, especially in new technologies, from the 1950s to the 1970s. This commitment to national strength through industrial investment began to erode in the 1980s, and there was little perceived need for it after the Cold War. In the second phase, with the United States having no peer competitor, successive administrations sought to enlarge the U.S.-led rules-based order and establish patterns of cooperation on critical issues. This era transformed the world for the better in a variety of ways—many countries became more free, prosperous, and secure; global poverty was slashed; and the world responded effectively to the 2008 financial crisis—but it was also a period of geopolitical change.

The United States now finds itself at the start of the third era: one in which it is adjusting for a new period of competition in an age of interdependence and transnational challenges. This does not mean breaking with the past or giving up the gains that have been made, but it does mean laying a new foundation of American strength. That requires revisiting long-held assumptions if we are to leave America stronger than we found it and better prepared for what lies ahead. The outcome of this phase will not be determined solely by outside forces. It will also, to a large extent, be decided by the United States’ own choices.


EDITOR’S NOTE

Before this article was posted online, a passage in it about the Middle East was updated to address Hamas’s attack on Israel, which occurred after the print version of the article went to press.


(Updated on October 25) A PDF of the print version, which went to press on October 2, is available here.



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《美國優越論在2024》評論
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0.  前言

扎卡瑞阿先生大作討論美國「國力」(本欄第二篇)。他的文章相當長,內容即使說不上複雜,「豐富」則當之無愧。我一時三刻無法做個頭頭是道的分析。

教授的大作甚短,不到扎卡瑞阿先生文章1/6內容相對的較為平易。柿子挑軟的檢,所以先行評論。

我常常不了解美國政論文章的標題以前提過一、兩次,奈教授這篇大作屬之。在我看來,「美國優越論」和「在2024」連用非衍即贅譯為2024的美國優越論。拙見以為美國優越論與2024大選》則通順達意美國優越論與外交政策》或《外交政策中的美國優越論》皆可謂「對題

1. 
外交政策流派

奈教授大作第一段指出:面臨2024大選,對美國在全球應該扮演的角色有三種「定位主張:

1) 
基於自由主義的「國際派我認為:「國際派」在此可以詮釋成「干涉主義;或前者是後者的代名詞;或前者是羊頭後者是狗肉
2) 
精打細算的「量力而為派。此處可參考我提到的:美國外交政策在優先順位上四種決策依據
3) 
戴上「美國第一」面具的「孤立主義

2. 
美國優越感

奈教授大作第二和第三兩段的作用在引出以下「美國優越感『來源』」的論述。我只做兩點簡單的分析/評論。

1) 
如果美國人民(包括奈教授這種純正血統的美國人和扎卡瑞阿先生這種歸化美國人)有這兩段文字所說的「優越感」,則它是一種性格上的「虛驕」,或一種「建構」出來的「虛驕」。我們都知道早、後期到美國的移民,絕大多數是窮人、罪犯、被歧視者、或被壓迫者。

以現代標準來判斷,過去美國移民對北美洲本土原住民的行為是「種族滅絕」;和納粹黨人如希特勒、希姆萊之流是同一等級和類型。不同的是,納粹黨人屠殺的是手無寸鐵的猶太人;而北美洲原住民中還頗有幾位能打仗的領袖。

2)  自由主義主導下的國際秩序
(該欄《前言》篇)基本上是個鬼話(中文)或「宰制論述」。各位只要細讀《美國頭號惡名昭彰戰犯季辛吉畢世於100(該欄12/01貼文),就會同意我所言不虛。

此外,一個使用黑奴和種族歧視一直持續到今天的社會,有什麼臉侈言「自由主義」?

3. 
美國優越感的來源

奈教授大作第四到第九段闡述「美國優越感」的三個來源。以下略表淺見。

3.1
啟蒙運動傳統

此處基本上還是在談「自由主義」;請見以上2-2)小節的評論。不過,奈教授還不是一位完全厚顏無恥,胡說八道的學者;在第五、六兩段他不得不針對我以上的批評扭捏作態擦脂抹粉一番。

3.2
清教徒傳統

如果我們拿邊境牆和第七段中山坡上的小城相映,就能看出這個「傳統」的淺、薄、和蒼白。

3.3
地理位置

奈教授大作第九段討論「美國優越感」最根本的來源或者說,她在第二次世界大戰後成為暴發國的原因地理位置;此處可以參考扎卡瑞阿先生大作中相關的論述。

我不是美國史專家,就我所知一、二來說,美國立國時只有13州。後來的國土主要靠燒殺搶掠而得;另外有兩、三州,如阿拉斯加和路易斯安那,靠的則是坑矇拐騙。奈教授大作中兩次提及1945;或許,在潛意識中,他了解到所謂的「優越感」只不過是財大氣粗而已。

4. 
美國領導階層的自我定位和外交政策

最後,在第10到第13四段中,奈教授討論到「自我定位」和美國外交政策。此處略而不論。我建議此處可參看拙作新保守主義者的最後殘喘》評論一文。

5. 
結論

1) 
美國在20世紀後半期的崛起和躍登全球一哥,是因為美國政府採取「經濟帝國主義」的外交政策(該文第2.11)

2)  
美國或任何其它國家(包括中國)所謂的「優越感」,基本上都不過是「虛驕」或政治啦啦隊的吶喊。

附註

1. 
當然,「經濟帝國主義」能夠運作的背景還是堅船利砲或CIA飛彈無人機:With more than 750 bases across 80 countries, and about 175,000 troops stationed in 159 countries, the Americans always stay within striking distance of their rivals at all times, and that is what makes the US the most powerful country in the world.

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