De vanskelige beslutninger

Læste et interessant defensorat af Robert Kaplan for den famøse amerikanske udenrigsminister under Nixon og Ford: Henry Kissinger. Som ypperstepræsten indenfor udenrigspolitisk Realpolitik var (og er) han forhadt og kritiseret. Selv har jeg ikke indsigt nok i verdenspolitikken 1969-1977 til at have dannet en velfunderet mening. Men Kaplan gør et ihærdigt forsøg på at nuancere billedet af Kissinger, der ellers normalt fremstår som über-realisten, der koldt og kynisk forfulgte amerikanske nationale interesser. Han hævder således, at Kissinger kunne føre sin nøgterne politik netop fordi han ofte havde svære moralske og etiske kvaler:

“Henry Kissinger believes that in difficult, uncertain times—times like the 1960s and ’70s in America, when the nation’s vulnerabilities appeared to outweigh its opportunities—the preservation of the status quo should constitute the highest morality. Other, luckier political leaders might later discover opportunities to encourage liberalism where before there had been none. The trick is to maintain one’s power undiminished until that moment.

Ensuring a nation’s survival sometimes leaves tragically little room for private morality. Discovering the inapplicability of Judeo-Christian morality in certain circumstances involving affairs of state can be searing. The rare individuals who have recognized the necessity of violating such morality, acted accordingly, and taken responsibility for their actions are among the most necessary leaders for their countries, even as they have caused great unease among generations of well-meaning intellectuals who, free of the burden of real-world bureaucratic responsibility, make choices in the abstract and treat morality as an inflexible absolute.

Unlike his fellow Republicans of the Cold War era—dull and practical men of business, blissfully unaware of what the prestigious intellectual journals of opinion had to say about them—Kissinger has always been painfully conscious of the de­ gree to which he is loathed. He made life-­and-death decisions that affected millions, entailing many messy moral compromises. Had it not been for the tough decisions Nixon, Ford, and Kissinger made, the United States might not have withstood the damage caused by Carter’s bouts of moralistic ineptitude; nor would Ronald Reagan have had the luxury of his successfully executed Wilsonianism. Henry Kissinger’s classical realism—as expressed in both his books and his statecraft—is emotionally unsatisfying but analytically timeless.”

Når man bor  i Danmark, et land hvis størrelse og geopolitiske betydning er aldeles negligerbar, kan patosfyldte begreber som ‘statsmandskab’, ‘træffe den vanskelige, men rigtige beslutning’ og ‘historien vil vise at vi har ret’ virke overdrevne og floskuløse.  Omvendt møder vi for tiden ofte statsmandens nære slægtning, ‘nødvendighedens politik’, i den aktuelle danske politiske debat. Reformer gennemføres og begrundes med teknokratiske argumenter om hensynet til konkurrenceevnen, skoleelevernes faglighed, folkesundheden og fremtidssikringen af velfærdsstaten. Nu er det selvsagt meget muligt, at den førte politik rent faktisk ER både nødvendig og rigtig. Måske vil historien give Thorning-Schmidt regeringen ret. Man kunne godt fortænke Bjarne Corydon for at se sig selv som en lokal (og økonomisk ansvarlig) udgave af Kissinger.

Kaplan og Kissingers pointe er, at i virkeligheden er realistisk og uideologisk realpolitik i virkeligheden mere moralsk og etisk rigtig. Tilbagetrækningen af de amerikanske tropper fra Vietnam foregik blandt andet ved en række stærkt kontroversielle bombninger i Nordvietnam og Cambodia. Kaplan argumenterer dog for, at man i virkeligheden bombede …. for lidt:

“Within two years, Nixon and Kissinger reduced the number of American troops in Vietnam to 156,800; the last ground ­combat forces left three and a half years after Nixon took office. It had taken Charles de Gaulle longer than that to end France’s involvement in Algeria. That successful troop withdrawal was facilitated by a bombing incursion into Cambodia—primarily into areas replete with North Vietnamese military redoubts and small civilian populations, over which the Cambodian government had little control.

The bombing, called “secret” by the media, was public knowledge during 90 percent of the time it was carried out, wrote Samuel Huntington, the late Harvard professor who served on President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Council. The early secrecy, he noted, was to avoid embarrassing Cambodia’s Prince Norodom Sihanouk and complicating peace talks with the North Vietnamese.

Despite the North Vietnamese invasion of eastern Cambodia in 1970, the U.S. Congress substantially cut aid between 1971 and 1974 to the Lon Nol regime, which had replaced Prince Sihanouk’s, and also barred the U.S. Air Force from helping Lon Nol fight against the Khmer Rouge. Future historians will consider those actions more instrumental in the 1975 Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia than Nixon’s bombing of sparsely populated regions of Cambodia six years earlier.”

Det er selvsagt omsonst at kaste sig ud i den slags kontrafaktiske betragtninger. Hvem ved reelt om man kunne have forhindret Khmer Rouges folkemord, hvis man ikke havde tilbageholdt støtten til Cambodia? Pointen er dog tankevækkende. Hvis man kan forhindre en stor forbrydelse ved selv at begå en mindre, skal man så gøre det? Er de sociale konsekvenser af ‘nødvendighedens politik’ i 2013 rimelige, hvis de aktuelle reformer kan medvirke til en fremtidssikring af velfærdsstaten?

Sagen er vel den, at politikere til tider skal være klar til at tage ansvaret på sig og træffe svære beslutninger – også når man er usikker på, at det er det rigtige man gør. Det må man sige at Kissinger havde modet til at gøre. Hvilke danske politikere kan man sige det om?

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