저팬 타임스(Japan Times) 인터넷판에 2017년 10월 10일에 실린 기사이다.
현대의 국제정치 상황을 설명하면서 하버드대학교의 그래햄 알리슨(Graham Allison)교수가
사용하기 시작한 "투키디데스의 함정"(Thucydides Trap)이란 기원전 5세기 고대 그리스의 역사학자이자
장군이었던 투키디데스가 스파르타(Sparta)와 아테네(Athenes)간의 전쟁(431?404 BC)이었던
펠로폰네소스 전쟁(Peloponnesian War)을 기술한 "펠로폰네소스 전쟁사"(History of Peloponnesian War)에서
이 전쟁은 "기존의 강대국(스파르타)이 새롭게 떠오르는 신흥세력(아테네)의 출현으로 위협을 느끼면서
전쟁(무력충돌)은 불가피했었다"는 설명에서 유래하였다.
현재 미국과 중국간의 역학적인 관계를 이런 관점으로 보는 눈들이 많이 있어
요즘 자주 인용되는 말이다.
알리슨교수의 저서 "의사결정의 욧점"(Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1971)이
학교다닐때 학과장교수 강의의 필독서였던 적이 있는데 those were the days.
1962년 꾸바 미사일 위기때 케네디(John F. Kennedy)와 크루쉐프(Nikita Khrushchev)가 내린
정책결정의 과정을 3가지 모델로 설명을 하였다.
아래 기사의 제목 "우리는 '투키디데스의 함정'을 피할 수 있을까?"는
알리슨교수의 최근 저서 "전쟁으로 갈 수 밖에 없는: 미국과 중국은 "투키디데스의 함정"을 피할 수 있을까?
(Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? , May 30, 2017)에서
흥미있는 분들은 알리슨교수의 기고문을 여기에서 읽으시길요.
제목은 투키디데스의 함정: 미국과 중국은 전쟁으로 치달을것인가?
Thucydides’s Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War ?
Can we avoid the ‘Thucydides Trap’?
The U.S. and China must do everything they can to escape the obsession that 'war is unavoidable'
by Yoichi Funabashi
When an emerging power attempts to supplant a hegemonic power in international politics, major conflict often ensues. Harvard professor Graham T. Allison describes this scenario as the “Thucydides Trap.” His recent book on the subject ? “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?” ? has received worldwide attention.
In this book, Allison asks whether the current power shift, namely China’s precipitous rise and fierce pursuit of the world’s postwar hegemon, the United States, will lead to war between the U.S. and China. Allison also identifies ways in which a war between these two powers could be avoided.
The term “Thucydides Trap” derives from the ancient Greek historian’s account of the Peloponnesian Wars, which unfolded in Greece in the fifth century B.C., when the rapid rise of the maritime city-state of Athens provoked fear in Sparta, the continentalist hegemon, and ultimately plunged the two city-states into war.
Thucydides concluded that “it was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” This zero-sum mentality between the pursuer and the pursued, characterized by the overconfidence of the rising power and the loss of confidence and paranoia of the declining hegemon, is the greatest enemy to the balance of power and international stability ? in other words, a “trap.” Allison analyzed 16 cases in which a rising power challenged a ruling power over the past 500 years, and concludes that the result of a full 12 of them was war ? the so-called Thucydides Trap.
I attended a presentation by Allison at the 2017 “Summer Davos” World Economic Forum meeting in Dalian, China. It was a full house. Following the presentation, I talked briefly with a Chinese journalist seated next to me. Our casual conversation eventually turned to the North Korean nuclear crisis.
This journalist told me: “The U.S. welcomes the worsening of relations between China and North Korea, and by forcing China to put pressure on North Korea, the U.S. hopes to bring about a decisive deterioration in the China-North Korea relationship. Many Chinese believe that the U.S. has set a ‘North Korean trap’ for China. Chinese and American doubts beget doubts when it comes to the Korean Peninsula ? mutual distrust is deepening. A Thucydides Trap is already in place.”
One of the primary causes of war is the obsession that “war is unavoidable.” Indeed, this is the essence of the Thucydides Trap. It is desirable for both the U.S. and China to discern the danger posed by this trap, and compel each other to exercise self-restraint.
However, we should avoid the simplistic assumption that the contradictions in the U.S.-China relationship can be overcome as long as both sides develop a theoretical understanding of the Thucydides Trap.
First, we must consider a crucial question: Can China’s “rise” continue in the long term to the point that it overtakes the U.S.? A great number of severe problems await the rising power: these include China’s national debt, its aging and declining population, environmental destruction, corruption and stratification, and the ethnic tensions in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region. China cannot expect the type of linear growth and rapid ascendance that has characterized the past three decades to continue in the future.
It is likely that the level of instability (including psychological unease) in Chinese domestic affairs will increase. Internal insecurity has already forced China’s power elite to adopt an unyielding stance toward the outside world, heightening tensions in the region and the world at large.
Indeed, Harvard professor Joseph S. Nye argues that it is not the Thucydides Trap but rather the “Kindleberger Trap” that should concern us most ? in other words, a China that appears weaker, not stronger. Nye is referring to the work of the late MIT economic historian Charles Kindleberger, who once argued that when the U.S. supplanted Great Britain as the global hegemon, it failed to assume the latter’s leadership role. The former hegemon Great Britain “was willing but not able” to fulfill it. Meanwhile, as the rising world power, the U.S. “was able but not willing.” Kindleberger explained that it was precisely this mismatch that brought about the collapse of the global system in the 1930s.
Whether China will demonstrate leadership and collaborate with other countries to create a new global system will ultimately depend on its willingness to provide global public goods. For the time being, however, China is likely to continue in a state of “being able but not willing.” For as long as the current regime continues, it is hard to imagine China sharing a set of universal values with the wider world.
Additionally, there is a danger the Thucydides Trap theory could ensnare the U.S.-China relationship within the dramatic historical narrative of “the rise and fall of the great powers.”
This view of history, which sees the great powers as pieces on a giant chess board, tends to dismiss the importance of robust regional orders to the creation of the overall global order, when in fact these regional orders are of decisive importance. China’s behavior at the International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organization is far less revealing than the way China behaves toward its neighbors, or with regard to territorial disputes. After all, in geopolitics, “the devil lies in the regions.”
China has stubbornly pressed the U.S. to establish a “special relationship” between the two countries ? in other words, “a new type of major power relations.” The Thucydides Trap could easily be transformed into “a new type of major power relations” trap. This is the trap that must be avoided at all costs.
Yoichi Funabashi is chairman of the Asia Pacific Initiative and former editor-in-chief of the Asahi Shimbun. This is a translation of his column in the monthly Bungei Shunju.
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