Kommentar

De som viser forståelse for Vladimir Putins angrep på USA under München-konferansen ignorerer de negative sidene ved Putins politikk og glemmer USAs positive. Det er merkelig at hele kampen for frihet i siste halvdel av 20. århundre er fraværende.

Aftenposten har utmerket seg med en høy grad av forståelse for Putins klage. Nils Morten Udgaard fulgte mandag opp en tidligere leder, ved å se «saken» fra den ydmykede sovjeter/storrussers side.

Udgaard forsvarer til og med Russlands opprustning som noe «naturlig» for en tidligere stormakt som ønsker å gjenreise sin status. Uten å nevne at Russland mangler de nødvendige forutsetninger for å spille den rollen.

Russernes østeuropeiske «allierte» er alle gått inn i EU og NATO. Det kan ikke russerne endre. Men deres mål nå er å gjøre det klart at de vil motsette seg en ytterligere maktforskyvning i USAs favør. De vil understreke at de selv – som en dominerende energileverandør og som verdens største land – står for en annen utenrikspolitikk, at de søker alliansepartnere ikke minst i Asia, at de vil bygge opp motmakt. Da er en gjenoppbygging av Russland forfalne militærmaskin påkrevet, med en budsjettøkning i år på formidable 23 prosent.

Udgaard skriver at den kalde krig er over og at Norge står alene, men det er den kalde krigs realpolitikk han anvender. Den gikk i graven i 1989. I dag er det helt andre utfordringer vi står foran. Herald Tribunes Roger Cohen har påtatt seg å skrive et svar på George W. Bush’s vegne. Han tegner et helt annet bilde av verden enn Aftenpostens redaktør. Det rommer idealisme og menneskenes frihetslengsel. Hos Udgaard er det kun makt som teller.

Vladimir, I’m pleased you have given me the opportunity to speak my mind. You are angered by NATO’s expansion to embrace the former vassal states of the Soviet empire. You see in it «a serious provocation» and the drawing of new dividing lines across Europe. You suggest Russia is the target of this maneuver.

Russia is big, Vladimir, but memory and history are bigger. Have you forgotten the Hungarian martyrs of 1956? Have you overlooked the Prague Spring that followed a dozen years later? Have the Soviet tanks and thought police that enslaved the peoples of Central Europe slipped from your mind?

Here was an overstepping of borders dedicated to the cementing in the Central European soul of totalitarian fear. I know that I have spoken in the past of the struggle between good and evil. I guess what I meant to say is that the 20th century saw a battle between the sanctity of the individual human being and the loss of humanity caused by the ferocious certainties of Communist and other armed utopias.

A child of one of the new NATO members, Pope John Paul II of Poland, was one of the leaders of this struggle in the name of the individual against a dehumanizing system. In this lay his lasting greatness.

Next time you’re having problems with NATO expansion, try seeing it as an act of prudence, a guarantee to people who needed it that they will no longer be shaped and controlled against their will, the repayment of a debt to Europeans whose humanity was traded away at Yalta.

Try looking at the world from Warsaw or Bucharest and try understanding NATO as democracy’s shield rather than its spear.

There is an enduring school of thought that we have somehow cornered you into belligerence through pushing NATO eastward and establishing a military presence in Central Asia. I have a different view.

Could it be that your assertiveness, and recent rudeness, are no more than the natural ploy of a once-great power with a declining army and population, a looming election in which nationalist muscle-flexing will play well, a diminished world influence and a horde of petrodollars allowing it to dream of wielding a big stick once more?

You seem somewhat blind, dear Vladimir, to events in your own country. You criticize the imposition on the world of one state’s legal system — the American — but do not ask yourself what legal system allows the killers of Anna Politkovskaya to act with apparent impunity.

And what of the slaying last year of Andrei Kozlov, the central banker whose mistake, it seems, was to shut down banks involved in money laundering?

The «hyper-use of force» of which you complain appears not to apply to your own scorched-earth policies in Chechnya. Taking as a measure the harshness of violence there, in the storming of the Moscow theater in 2002, and at Beslan’s school in 2004, it is legitimate to ask how Russia would have responded to a terrorist attack that took not tens, nor hundreds, but thousands of lives in two major cities. As you recall, Vladimir, we suffered just such an attack.

You praise the peaceful transformation of the Soviet regime, holding it up as a model of Russia’s «political culture, respect for democratic values and for the law.» The changes in Russia, its entrance into the global economy, its liberalization, have indeed been great achievements of the past 15 years or so.

We have been proud to partner with you in this great transition. But the changes remain a work in progress. Too often the gun trumps the law. Too often money and might trump the ballot box. The election in your country next year will be a critical test of the transition you laud.

Bak Aftenpostens verdensvante forståelse for maktpolitikk, ligger kynismen og opportunismen på lur. Den som ikke har noe å kjempe for, vil legge seg på rygg, så snart sterkere og mer brutale krefter dukker opp.

Cohens art: How Bush might have answered Putin speech er sub only

Norge og Putins «kalde krig»