2015年9月，中国国家主席 #习近平 对美国进行国事访问期间，“修昔底德陷阱”(Thucydides Trap)一说的提出者——美国知名国际关系和外交政策学者、哈佛大学教授格雷厄姆·艾里森(Graham T. Allison)在《大西洋月刊》(The Atlantic)上发表了题为《修昔底德陷阱：美国和中国正在走向战争？》的文章，指出快速崛起的中国必将冲击美国主导的国际秩序。在这一过程中，新兴大国中国和守成大国美国极有可能爆发战争。艾里森在他刚刚出版的新书《注定一战：美国和中国能否逃脱修昔底德陷阱？》(Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap)详尽阐述了这一观点。他表示，如果美国不及时拿出全面应对方案，不做出重大战略调整，美中极有可能爆发灾难性的冲突，而冲突的导火索将极有可能是朝鲜。
Allison derived his interesting metaphor, the “Thucydides Trap,” from the fifth-century B.C. Peloponnesian War recounted by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. The combatants were the ruling power Sparta, which the “trap” describes as corresponding to 21st-century United States, and the rising power Athens, corresponding to today’s China. Thucydides attributed the war to the “growth in power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Sparta,” spurring the latter to launch what became a 27-year war.
But the comparisons do not end there. The Thucydides Trap further stretches history and credulity by presuming equivalence with other distant wars. Allison’s examples date to the 16th-century war between the ruling power France and the rising power the Habsburgs, the 17th-century war between the Dutch Republic and England, and the 19th-century war between the ruling power France and the rising power Germany — among several others, reaching back centuries. But the equivalences with 21st-century United States and China — geostrategic challenges and opportunities, international order, deepening and irreversible globalization, myriad interdependences, robust trade, potentially existential nature of war today and preferred resort to diplomacy — don’t really hold up. Especially not to ancient Sparta and Athens.