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历史会 如何评价奥巴马?


Barack Obama

How will history see me?
历史会 对我做出怎样的评价?

If Barack Obama wants to be remembered as a great president, he should focus on three long-term problems
如果贝拉克·奥巴马 想作为一位伟大的总统而留名,他应当 把重点放在三个长远问题上

Jan 19th 2013 |From the print edition

NEXT week Barack Obama will take the oath of office as elected president of the United States for the second time—an honour granted only to 16 men before him. When he returns to the Oval Office he will rediscover a string of problems, from domestic struggles over America's debt ceiling and gun control to bloodier conflicts in Mali and Syria. But now more than ever he would be wise to look at the long term. Mr Obama will not run for office again. How will history see him?

下周,奥巴马 将第二次作为美国当选总统宣誓就职——在他之前只有16个人获得这一荣誉。当他返 回椭圆形办公室时,他会再 次发现一连串的问题:从有关 美国债务上限和枪支管控的国内争斗到马里和叙利亚更加血腥的冲突。不过,他应当 抱着比以前更明智的态度着眼长远问题。奥巴马 再也不会竞选公职。历史会怎样看待他呢?

More favourably, we hope, than it would if he were judged just on the past four years. That is not to dismiss the accomplishments of his first term. Few presidents have had to take office against such a dismal backdrop, with the economy contracting at 5% a year, jobs being shed at the rate of 800,000 a month and America mired in two failing wars. Mr Obama has done a creditable job of putting a critically ill patient on the road to recovery. His main legislative achievement—health-care reform—may yet help millions of Americans, though the verdict on that must await its full implementation. All this, together with an unconvincing opponent, persuaded enough Americans (and The Economist) to back him in November. But his first term was nowhere near successful enough to earn Mr Obama the mantle of greatness—or to guard him against the possibility of a disastrous second term wiping away all else.

若仅依据过去4年对他做出评判,我们希 望结果可能会对他更有利。这并不 是去否定他首个任期的成就。在他就职时,经济以每年5%的速度在萎缩,失业率以每月800000人的速度在增加,美国陷 于两场走向失败的战争。很少有 总统不得不在如此低迷的大背景下就职。把一个 身染沉疴的病人带上复苏之路,奥巴马 的功绩可圈可点。他在立 法方面的主要成就——医疗保险改革——虽说有 可能给数百万美国人带来好处,但是结 论必须在其全面实施后才能给出。所有这些,加之对 手无法令人信服,说服了 足够多的美国人(和本报)在去年11月支持他。不过,奥巴马 首个任期的成就还不足以为其赢得伟大的衣钵——也无法 保证第二个任期将所有这些都抹除的可能性。

The Obama legacy will partly be defined by events. When George W. Bush sat reading to schoolchildren in Florida on September 11th 2001, “the war on terror” was not part of his vocabulary. Mr Obama may well be blindsided by something similarly out of the blue. But Mr Bush is also often described as the man who expanded government more than any president since Lyndon Johnson; that was a legacy he could have avoided. More to his credit, Mr Bush will also be remembered for dramatically increasing and improving aid to Africa.

决定奥 巴马遗产的可能是一连串的事件。当乔治·W·布什于2001年9月11日在佛 罗里达州坐着为学生们读书时,“反恐战争”可能还 不在他的字典中。同样的 突发事件也可能把奥巴马搞得晕头转向。但是,布什常被当成是林登·约翰逊 以来扩展政府最大的总统;这本是 他能避免的一项遗产。更出乎意料的是,布什还 被当做是大幅增加和改进对非洲援助的人。

Political capital, like a leader's time and energy, is a scarce resource, and the list of areas where Mr Obama could spend his profitably is a long one. Immigration reform would be a great gift to leave America (see Lexington); the construction of an EU-US free-trade zone would help the West. But to our mind, three great issues stand out as not just likely to provide vast benefits if resolved, but also as liable to do immense damage to Mr Obama's legacy if neglected.

领导人 的时间和精力有限,政治资本也一样稀缺,奥巴马 能够出手的领域有很多。移民改 革会给美国留下一个大礼;构建欧盟-美国自 由贸易区将有助于西方。但是,在我们看来,如果以 下三个大问题得到到解决,不仅可 能给奥巴马带来巨大的好处;倘若被忽略,也极有 可能给他的遗产带来巨大的打击。

First, balance the books

The most fundamental is that America must put its fiscal house in order. Admiral Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, was not exaggerating when he said in 2010 that America's debt was the greatest strategic threat the country faces. Since then, $3 trillion has been added, pushing the dolorous pile above $16 trillion. Much of that has been caused by the recession and the stimulus to fight it; but by the end of this decade, with ever more baby-boomers retiring, the deficit is set to rise relentlessly. If Mr Obama hands over a country heading towards bankruptcy in January 2017, he can forget any idea of being remembered as an economic saviour.

最根本的问题是,美国必 须理顺其财政问题。时任参 谋长联席会议主席的麦克·马伦将军在2010年称,债务是 美国面临的最大战略威胁。他这样 说并没有耸人听闻。从那以后,债务增加了3万亿美元,总额已超过16万亿美元。其中大 部分是拜衰退和为了摆脱衰退而提出的刺激计划所赐;但是,到2020年的时候,随着婴 儿潮一代退休的人数大大超出之前的数字,财政赤 字注定毫不留情地增加。如果奥巴马在2017年1月交出 的是一个走向破产的国家,那么他 就可以放弃任何当经济救世主的想法。

Having ignored the recommendations of the deficit committee he himself established, Mr Obama has never given any sign, other than rhetorically, of being at all serious about cutting “entitlements”: these are the pensions and government health-care schemes for the poor and elderly that will overwhelm the budget as the population ages and medical costs continue their uncontrolled rise. Far from reforming entitlements, Mr Obama added an expensive new one in his first term: subsidised health insurance for lower-paid workers. And the president has just avoided coming up with any cuts in the deal made on January 1st to stop America heading over the fiscal cliff, despite bullying the Republicans in Congress to accept tax rises on the rich.

奥巴马 忽视了亲自组建的减赤委员会提出的建议,除了动动嘴之外,他从未对消减“津贴”做出任何严肃的表态:随着人 口老龄化和医疗费用得不到控制而持续增加,这些针 对穷人和老年人的养老金和政府医疗保健计划将超出财政赤字。奥巴马 在第一个任期内不仅没有改革津贴,还增添 了一个额外的新问题:为低收 入工人提供医疗保险补贴。除了胁 迫国会中的共和党人接受对富人提高税率之外,总统能 做的就是在为阻止美国跌下财政悬崖而于1月1日达成 的协议中避免了任何的开支消减。

An America that cannot deal with its financial problems other than through repeated crises followed by shabby postponements will eventually go broke. And its capacity to offer leadership to the world is gravely diminished. Why should leaders in Beijing, Brasília, Bogotá or even Berlin see anything to emulate in Washington? If Mr Obama corrects this, he will be seen as a transformative figure. If not, future generations will look back on “the Bush-Obama years” as a time when two presidents stoked up a very foreseeable disaster.

不能解决债务问题,只靠着 反复争吵之后不靠谱的拖延,美国这 样下去迟早会破产。同时,美国领 导世界的能力会被严重消弱。为什么北京、巴西利亚、波哥大 甚至柏林的领导人应该效仿华盛顿?如果奥 巴马纠正了这一点,他就会 被认为是一个有改革能力的人。如果失败了,后人在回望“布什-奥巴马时代”时,就会把 它看成是由两位总统联手挑起的一场早该能够预料到的灾难。

Next, get involved

Given America's problems, some emphasis on “nation-building at home”, as Mr Obama likes to call it, is inevitable. But a world in which America turned inward would be a far less predictable and a less safe one. Mr Obama also has a lot of unfinished business abroad from his first term (see article). Despite all the grand talk of resets and new understandings, Iran is still a threshold nuclear power, Russia is hostile, Europe neglected and the Middle East as tense as ever. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been wound down leaving neither victory nor stability in their wake.

考虑到美国的难处,就像奥 巴马喜欢说得那样,以“国内建设”为重并不为过。但是,因美国转向国内,世界会 更难以预测和缺少安全。奥巴马 在国外还有许多第一个任期内的未竟任务。除了那些有关“重启”和新认识的大话题,伊朗仍 是核大国的威胁,俄罗斯充满敌意,欧洲无人关注,中东依旧紧张。伊拉克 和阿富汗的战争逐渐平息,之后即 没有胜利也没有稳定。

That inbox is too much for any man, but two areas where the president should make a real and personal push in his second term stand out. One is China. By January 2017 its economy may be bigger than America's. No bilateral relationship in the world is now more important. In his first term Mr Obama avoided any big disasters. Now the odds are raised. On the negative side, a jumpy nationalistic China could become the equivalent of Prussia a century ago: the prospect of a conflict between China and America's ally, Japan, over the Senkaku islands is real (see article). But he also has the chance to turn a suspicious relationship into something much more useful. Imagine, for instance, what a “G2” climate-change agreement would do for the environment.

任何人 对这种局面都不好应付,但是,总统应 当在第二个任期内在两个领域内亲历而为。一个是中国。中国经济可能在2017年1月超过美国。中美关 系是当今世界上最重要的双边关系。奥巴马 在首个任期内避免了任何大的灾难,不过,现在问题来了。从消极的方面来看,一个敏 感的民族主义中国可能会像一个世纪前的普鲁士那样:中国与 美国的盟友日本就尖阁群岛发生冲突的前景是真实的。不过,奥巴马 还有机会将这种缺乏信任的关系转化成某种更实用的东西。比如说,一项“G2”气候变 化协议会给环境带来什么是不难想象的。

Xi Jinping has now been China's leader for two months, yet Mr Obama has not seized the chance to see him (in Europe last year the new president of France rushed to visit the German chancellor the very day of his inauguration). Mr Xi will be around for the rest of Mr Obama's time and for six years after he is gone, so frequent summits and many more bilateral meetings at all levels are essential. “Military-to-military co-operation” has languished and should be improved. A return to the close personal chemistry that existed between Bill Clinton and Jiang Zemin in the 1990s may be too much to hope for, but the chilly Mr Obama needs to strive towards it. He should spend less time playing golf and more in Zhongnanhai.

习近平 成为中国领导人已经两个月有余,而奥巴 马还没有抓住机会同他会面(去年在欧洲,法国新 总统在就职当天就赶去会见德国总理)。在奥巴 马时代的剩余时间以及在他任期结束之后的6年,习都将在位。因此,定期的 峰会和更多的双边会议是必须的。“军方对军方的合作”已经失去意义,因而应当得到改善。回归比尔·克林顿 与江泽民之间在上世纪90年代的 那种亲密私人关系可能有点希望过高,但是,冷面的 奥巴马有必要为此而努力。他应当 把时间多花在中南海而不是去打高尔夫。

The final area where Mr Obama will be judged—and where he could make an enormous difference—is the Arab world. One looming, disastrous Obama legacy could be the death of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian mess (see article). As for the broader Arab spring, he may not be able to control it, but he can help direct it, in the same way that the older President Bush oversaw the end of the cold war. Syria is out of control. Countries like Egypt and Tunisia may be ruled by Islamists, but they are now democracies and desperate for financial help. If Mr Obama leaves behind a region of mini Turkeys, that would be a notable achievement. He cannot afford to appear as indifferent, or fearful of failure, towards so dangerous a region in his second term as he did in his first.

最后一 个能给奥巴马下定论的领域——也是他 可以带来巨大变化的领域——是阿拉伯世界。对待巴以乱局,两国解 决方案的死亡对奥巴马遗产的来说是一个迫在眉睫的、灾难性的结果。至于影 响面更广的阿拉伯之春,他可能无法加以控制,但他可 以借用前总统老布什对待冷战终结的方式去帮助引导它。叙利亚已经失控。埃及和 突尼斯等国可能被伊斯兰主义者掌控,但它们 还是民主国家并且急需金援。如果奥 巴马让这个地区成为另一个土耳其,这将是 一个值得称道的成就。若第二 个任期内仍像上一个任期那样,对如此 危险的地区不管不问,甚或是害怕失败,奥巴马 的代价不言而喻。

History's verdict is always hard to predict. But if Mr Obama fails to grapple with these three things—the budget, China and the Middle East—he will surely be seen harshly. Each requires bravery and resolution, and Mr Obama needs to start working on them now. We should all wish him well.

数英雄论成败,古今谁能说明白。倘若奥 巴马在这三个问题上——债务、中国和中东——一事无成,他肯定会留下骂名。每一个 问题都需要他拿出勇气和决心,而且必须马上行动。祝他好运。




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