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更新时间:2017-11-2 11:15:04 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Did the World Get Aung San Suu Kyi Wrong?

WASHINGTON — This is not the happy ending we were led to expect.


When Myanmar elected Aung San Suu Kyi’s party to power in 2015, she was widely portrayed as a sort of political saint, an icon who had endured great suffering to guide her people from dictatorship to democracy.

2015年,当昂山素季(Aung San Suu Kyi)领导的党派经选举上台执政的时候,她被普遍描绘为某种政治圣人,一个忍受住巨大的折磨,带领人民从独裁走向民主的偶像。

President Barack Obama praised her. Hillary Clinton embraced her in public. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, once compared her favorably to Gandhi.

贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)总统称颂过她。希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)公开与她拥抱。参议院多数党领袖米奇·麦康奈尔(Mitch McConnell)曾说她比甘地更了不起。

Today Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, is the target of worldwide criticism for standing by as her country’s military wages a campaign of murder, rape and torture against the Rohingya minority group.


Though her fall from grace was exceptionally spectacular, this is a common story. Western leaders champion individuals, often activists who have made heroic sacrifices, as the one-stop-shopping solution to the problems of dictatorship or shaky new democracy.


In their zeal to find a simple solution to the complex problem of political change, they overlook their heroes’ flaws, fail to see the challenges they will face in power, and assume that countries are the products of their leaders, when it is almost always the other way around.


“We keep ending up in this situation where we either idolize or demonize foreign leaders,” said Danielle Lupton, a Colgate University political scientist who studies how leaders’ behavior affects foreign policy.

“我们总是让这种解决方案停留在偶像化或妖魔化外国领导人的层面上,”研究领导人行为如何影响外交政策的高露洁大学(Colgate University)政治学家丹妮尔·拉普顿(Danielle Lupton)说。

Some of that is simply politics. But Lupton believes that those simplistic judgments are rooted in a quirk of psychology that makes them hard to avoid, and harder still to alter once they take hold.


“In political psychology there’s this notion of confirmation bias: that you have a predetermined belief about either an outcome or, in this case, whether a person is good or bad,” she said. That bias leads people to subconsciously select information that reinforces those beliefs — and to ignore facts that are inconsistent with it.


That helps explain how Suu Kyi’s champions in the West seemed to overlook signs that she might not be a paragon of liberal democratic values after all.


In a 2013 interview with the BBC, for instance, she brusquely dismissed questions about rising violence against the Rohingya, saying that Buddhists had also been displaced from their homes and that there was fear “on both sides.” Asked why the violence had overwhelmingly affected Muslims, she deflected, saying that Buddhists lived in fear of “global Muslim power.”


Though such episodes mounted during her rise, they conflicted with Suu Kyi’s saintly image, and so went largely unnoticed. Western leaders continued to embrace her, building her legitimacy as they pressured the transitional government to hold elections that were widely expected to elevate her to power.


“Confirmation bias is so powerful that we can ignore information that conflicts, and don’t even notice we’re doing it,” Lupton said.


The simple story of a crusading leader who will transform a nation rarely works out that way.


The United States once championed the Afghan leader Hamid Karzai as the democratic successor to the Taliban’s oppressive regime. But Washington was disappointed to find that Karzai, rather than rising above the problems of corruption and cronyism that had beset Afghanistan, established an inner circle that embodied them.

美国曾支持阿富汗领导人哈米德·卡尔扎伊(Hamid Karzai)成为取代塔利班暴政的民主力量。不过,华盛顿失望地发现,卡尔扎伊非但没有解决困扰阿富汗的腐败和任人唯亲问题,反而建立了一个此类问题严重的核心圈子。

“If you hold up a leader as a paragon of virtue, you may aid in consolidating their power, which can have all kinds of unintended consequences,” Saunders said.


In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame was hailed as his country’s savior when he took office, with Western support, after the 2004 genocide. But despite successes in reducing poverty, he has proved to be an authoritarian leader. Opposition politicians often end up in prison, in exile or dead. Human Rights Watch has documented widespread military detention and torture.

在2004年卢旺达种族灭绝事件之后,保罗·卡加梅(Paul Kagame)总统在西方的支持下上台,被誉为该国的救世主。尽管他在减贫方面取得了成功,但事实证明,他是一名威权领导人。反对派政治人士的关押、流放或死亡屡见不鲜。人权观察组织(Human Rights Watch)发现该国广泛存在军事拘押和酷刑。

And it was easy to support the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement when it was a rebel group fighting Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the Sudanese leader currently under indictment for genocide in Darfur. But after the group’s officers and allies took power in the newly independent South Sudan, they helped plunge the country into civil war.

作为一个反抗苏丹领导人奥马尔·哈桑·巴希尔(Omar Hassan al-Bashir)的组织,苏丹人民解放运动(Sudan People’s Liberation Movement)自然获得了我们的支持——巴希尔目前正因在达尔富尔进行种族屠杀而被起诉。但是,在该组织的军官和盟友在新独立的南苏丹掌权后,他们的所作所为导致该国陷入内战。

It is not only Western leaders who make such misjudgements. In the 1960s and ‘70s, activists worldwide cheered the rise of African independence leaders like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, many of whom later hardened into dictators.

不是只有西方领导人做出过这种错误判断。在20世纪60、70年代,世界各地的活动人士为津巴布韦总统罗伯特·穆加贝(Robert Mugabe)等非洲独立领导人的崛起欢呼雀跃,但他们中的很多人后来都成了无情的独裁者。

There are exceptions, such as Nelson Mandela, the first post-apartheid president of South Africa. But the Mandelas are so uncommon, and their successes rely on so many factors clicking into place, that they are still marveled over as wondrous mysteries, including among frustrated activists in Myanmar.

也有例外,比如南非种族隔离解除后的第一位总统纳尔逊·曼德拉(Nelson Mandela)。不过,曼德拉这样的领导人非常罕见,他们的成功依赖于诸多因素的汇合,至今被许多人当作不可思议的神秘事件来赞叹——包括心灰意冷的缅甸活动人士。

Suu Kyi is not Kagame or Mugabe, but after less than 20 months in office she is showing hints of the traits that define such leaders.


Upon winning power, she quickly sidelined many of the activists and civil society groups that had aided her rise. “She is only listening to those close to her,” said U Yan Myo Thein, an activist with the pro-democracy 88 Generation group and a former political prisoner, characterizing her inner circle as a “personality cult.”

在获得政权后,她很快就开始排挤很多支持她崛起的活动人士和公民社会团体。“现在,她只听那些与她关系密切的人的话,”支持民主的“88世代学生团”(88 Generation Group)的活动人士、前政治犯扬妙登(U Yan Myo Thein)说。他把昂山素季核心圈子的特征描述为“个人崇拜”。

“This is one of the features of a dictator,” he said.


As international plaudits for Suu Kyi continued to mount, some in Myanmar saw growing signs that she was consolidating power and suppressing critics.


“Though they claim themselves as an icon of democracy, they want to centralize and control everything,” Kyaw Thu, who leads the prominent civil society group Paung-Ku, said of the elected government. He added, “Anyone not supporting their agenda is the enemy.”

“尽管他们声称自己是民主的象征,但他们想要集中和控制一切,”著名公民社会团体Paung-Ku的领导人觉杜(Kyaw Thu)在谈到该民选政府时说。他还说,“任何不支持他们的计划的人都是敌人。”

Though senior policymakers seem confident in their habits, younger voices are beginning to question whether the international community, after so many such disappointments, might have something to learn.


“This pattern is far too frequent to be ignored,” Tim Hirschel-Burns, a Peace Corps officer in Benin, wrote on his personal blog.

“这种模式出现得太频繁了,不容忽视,”贝宁的和平队(Peace Corps)官员蒂姆·赫舍尔-伯恩斯(Tim Hirschel-Burns)在自己的个人博客上写道。

Perhaps the underlying model, of reforming a troubled country by installing a promising leader, might have the problem backward, he argued. Perhaps change needs to come bottom-up, even if this is harder and messier and takes longer.


“People in these countries, just as we are, are largely products of their environments,” he wrote.


Treating Suu Kyi as somehow above Myanmar’s problems allowed the world to see only her “moral righteousness and bravery rather than the political force she represented,” he added.


“People want democracy in the sense of being rid of dictatorship and having a leader that’s popularly elected,” said Thant Myint-U, a historian and former United Nations official. “But that’s very different from accepting the whole panoply of liberal values, especially when it comes to issues of race, ethnicity or gender equality.”

“人们所希望的民主是摆脱独裁统治,有一个民选领导人,”史学家、前联合国官员丹敏(Thant Myint-U)说。“但这与接受自由主义价值观的全部理念非常不同,尤其是在涉及种族、民族或性别平等的问题上。”

It is worth asking how much of the Western anger now directed at Suu Kyi, including calls to revoke her Nobel Prize, is partly buyers’ remorse from supporters who regret their own role in transforming her into such a powerful symbol.

值得思考的是,现在西方对昂山素季的愤怒,包括取消她的诺贝尔奖(Nobel Prize)的呼声,有多少是来自懊悔的支持者,他们曾经出力将她变成如此强大的象征,现在则追悔莫及。

Andrew Selth, a professor at the Griffith Asia Institute, wrote in a recent article, “If Suu Kyi had so far to fall, it is because the international community raised her so high.”

前不久,格里菲斯亚洲研究所(Griffith Asia Institute)的教授安德鲁·塞尔思(Andrew Selth)在一篇文章中写道,“如果昂山素季现在倒台,那是因为国际社会把她捧得太高了。”