美国前国务卿基辛格最近在美国一个智库论坛上(麦凯恩研究所的塞多纳全球问题论坛)警告说,美中的紧张关系可能会将整个世界卷入其中,并可能导致这两个军事和科技巨头之间爆发一场末日决战般的冲突。

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根据这名广受尊敬,推动1971年华盛顿与北京历史建交的外交官说法,当下美中两个超级大国在经济,军事和技术实力加在一起,所带来的风险,比美国在冷战时期同苏联对抗产生的风险还大。

基辛格指出,尽管核武器已足够摧毁整个世界,但核技术和人工智能的进步将使世界末日的威胁倍增。这是人类历史上第一次,人类具备了在短时间内自我毁灭的能力。他强调说,在核问题上,还增加了高科技问题,在人工智能领域,其本质是人类成为机器的伙伴,而机器可以发展出自己的判断力。

“因此,两个高科技强国之间发生军事冲突,将带来巨大的影响。”

为了避免核灾难,基辛格呼吁美国对中国的政策必须双管齐下,保持持续的对话并寻求合作的领域。然而,特朗普和拜登的美国政府似乎更关注于如何煽动舆论,打造中国是“与生俱来的敌人”,而美国及其盟国的主要任务就是与中国进行军事对抗。

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最近发表的战争论,就是来自美国国防部长奥斯汀,他警告说:“下一场重大战争的形式将与以往非常不同”。他呼吁美军利用先进的技术,加强整合全球军事行动,以“更快地理解、决策和行动”。显然的,以迅速行动摧毁中国,是美国目前不言而喻的军事立场。这种以战争为导向的战略问题在于,在任何核战中,都没有胜利者。

基辛格没有提到,除了机器会失误外,人也会犯下错误的举动。我们已经见证了无数的恐怖分子自杀袭击和其他疯狂的行为,这些人皆认为自己是在“替天行道”,而不惜也把其他人牵涉进来。

世界末日不仅可以意外的发生,且可以通过人为设计和意图来实现。后一种可能包括鼓动战争的政治人物和其在军队的支持者、大众媒体及一些狂热宗教团体。

世界末日钟警示

美国《原子科学家公报》组织(BAS)就创设了一种警示的“世界末日钟”。BAS是由爱因斯坦和参与研发第一颗原子武器的科学家于1945年创立的,世界末日钟以午夜倒计时为末日的到来,标示世界距离毁灭的距离,进而提醒人类和地球面对著的威胁。

世界末日钟预示著人类在面对核武器、气候变化和破坏性技术上带来的灾难之脆弱性指标,并在今年调至距离午夜仅剩100秒。这也是世界末日钟创设以来最接近“人类毁灭”的时刻。

尽管前景悲观,但BAS也指出:“我们相信,即使在危机时期,人类依然能应付现代科技带来的危机。但是,如果人类要避免毁灭的灾难……各国领导人必须在对抗虚假讯息,加强科学认知,以及合作减少全球风险方面做得更好。世界各地的公民可以并且应该──通过抗议,选票和其他创意方式,组织和要求其政府重新设置优先事项,并在国内外合作下,减少核战争、气候变化和其他全球性灾难,包括流行病的风险。”

这建议似乎没有得到应有的重视。澳州近日就发表了更激昂的反华言论,其新任国防部长达顿公开认同党同僚所言,台海局势爆发战争的机率正在升高。其言论也获得该国内政部秘书长佩苏略附和。佩苏略是在4月27日的澳纽军团日上公开发表有关挑衅的言论,声称澳洲“战鼓”已响起,并警告说澳洲必须准备“再次派遣战士出战”。

北京对最新的战争论反应是可预估的。中国外交部发言人汪文斌说:“中国必须并且将实现统一。我们愿意竭尽全力争取和平统一的前景,但我们绝不会为任何形式的‘台独’分裂活动留任何空间。 希望澳方充分认识到台湾问题是高度敏感的,遵守一中原则,谨慎行事,避免对‘台独’分裂势力发出任何错误讯号。”

澳洲也有一些头脑冷静的人,反对加速世界末日时钟。澳洲最大报纸近日就刊登了一篇读者的回应,《对抗中国习近平的政治》一文里,就向澳洲政府提出了谨慎的建议:

“如果我们不插手,停止装腔作势……他们(中国和台湾)将可在冷静下,有充足的时间去和平解决(台海问题)。停止鼓动他人,怂恿他们为我们的议程和‘欲望’而战。不要因为您的无知,以政治分化手段来转移本国政治的失败,以及为了再次当选,而把年轻人送往异地战死。”

不幸的是,就如澳洲前总理陆克文所言般,在一片鼓动战争的领袖论述中,这只是少数人的观点,反之,更多的是已陷入“与中国对抗”的心态,并煽动起对中国恐慌的舆论。

《对中国宣战会有什么后果?》(What Can Happen in a War Against China )原文:

Recently former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger in a recent forum at an American think tank meeting (McCain Institute’s Sedona Forum on global issues) warned that US-China relations can engulf the entire world in an Armageddon-like clash between the two military and technology giants.

According to the widely respected diplomat who crafted the historic 1971 detente between Washington and Beijing, the current economic, military and technological strengths of the two superpowers carries more risks than the cold war between the US and the Soviet Union.

Kissinger noted that while nuclear weapons were already large enough to destroy the entire world, advances in nuclear technology and artificial intelligence have multiplied the doomsday threat. 

Pointing out that humanity – for the first time in human history – now has the capacity to extinguish itself in a finite period of time, he stressed that “to the nuclear issue is added the hi-tech issue, which in the field of artificial intelligence, in its essence is based on the fact that man becomes a partner of machines and that machines can develop their own judgment.”

“So in a military conflict between hi-tech powers, it’s of colossal significance.” 

Talk Peace Not War 

To avoid nuclear disaster Kissinger called for a two pronged US policy that would maintain a constant dialogue and find areas of cooperation. However both the Trump and Biden administrations seem to be more concerned with inflaming public opinion that China is “an inherent enemy” and that the main task for the US and its allies is to confront China militarily.

The latest counter productive war talk comes from the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, who warned that “the way we fight the next major war is going to look very different from the way we fought the last ones”.  He called for the US military to harness technological advances and better integrate military operations globally to “understand faster, decide faster and act faster”.

Act faster to destroy China quicker appears to be the default US military position now. The problem with this war oriented strategy is that there are no winners from any nuclear war.  

Kissinger omitted mention that besides a failing in machines, human conduct can also be faulty. We have seen this happen numerous times in the actions of suicide terrorists and other crazies intent on leaving the world in a ‘blaze of glory’ and taking everyone else with them. Doomsday can come about not only by accident but by human design and intent.  The latter possibility includes war mongering politicians and their supporters in the military, mass media and some crackpot religious circles.

Doomsday Clock Ticking Closer to Midnight

A grim reminder on the doomsday clock ticking away comes from the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS). Founded in 1945 by Einstein and scientists who helped to develop the first atomic weapons, the BAS created the Doomsday Clock using the spectre of apocalypse (midnight) and the countdown to zero to convey threats to humanity and the planet. 

The clock which has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies was set this year at 100 seconds to midnight. This timing is the nearest that the clock has been set to the moment in time when earth will be blown up and mankind obliterated. 

Despite its pessimism the BAS noted:

We continue to believe that human beings can manage the dangers posed by modern technology, even in times of crisis. But if humanity is to avoid an existential catastrophe …national leaders must do a far better job of countering disinformation, heeding science, and cooperating to diminish global risks. Citizens around the world can and should organize and demand—through public protests, at ballot boxes, and in other creative ways—that their governments reorder their priorities and cooperate domestically and internationally to reduce the risk of nuclear war, climate change, and other global disasters, including pandemic disease.

This advice appears to be lost in our part of the world. More belligerent chest thumping anti-China talk has come from Australia with the new Minister of Defence, Peter Dutton, publicly agreeing with colleagues in his party that the prospects of a battle over Taiwan could happen quite soon. He was joined by Home Affairs MInister Mike Pezzullo. In a provocative publicity seeking message to his staff on ANZAC day on 27 April Pezzullo claimed that “the drums of war” were beating and warned that Australia should be prepared to “send off, yet again, our warriors to fight”.

Beijing’s response to the latest war talk has been measured. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said: “China must and will be reunified. We are willing to do our best to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification, but we will never leave any space for ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities in any form. “It is hoped that the Australian side will fully recognise that the Taiwan question is highly sensitive, abide by the one-China principle, be prudent in its words and deeds, avoid sending any wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces”.

There are cooler heads in Australia pushing back against the accelerated ticking of the doomsday clock. One reader in response to the article, “Standing Up to the Politics of Xi’s China” in a leading Australian newspaper has given his government this prudent advice:

If we leave them alone, cease the histrionics … they [China and Taiwan] will sort themselves out peacefully in the fullness of time when cooler heads prevail. Stop the playground antics of egging them to fight for our own motives and “pleasure”.

Don’t send young people to die in a foreign land because of your ignorance, your politics of distraction to deflect from your own domestic failures and your need to win re-election.

Unfortunately this is a minority view in a warmongering leadership described by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as addicted to the drug of ‘standing up to China’ every day of the week” and instigating a China panic public opinion. 

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