Margaret Scott

De l’usage et de l’abus de l’Histoire

LONDRES – Dans son brillant ouvrage intitulé The Uses and Abuses of History , l’historienne Margaret Macmillan nous raconte comment deux Américains évoquent les atrocités du 11 septembre 2001. L’un fait une analogie avec Pearl Harbour, attaque du Japon contre les Etats-Unis en 1941 dont l’autre semble ne semble pas au fait. « Mais si », répond le premier homme, « les Vietnamiens avaient déclenché la guerre du Vietnam en bombardant la flotte américaine ».

Certes, la mémoire historique n’est pas toujours aussi mauvaise. La politique et la diplomatie internationales fourmillent pourtant d’exemples d’utilisation douteuse et inconsidérée d’antécédents historiques pour justifier des décisions de politique étrangère qui conduisent invariablement à la catastrophe.

La réunion de 1938 à Munich entre Adolf Hitler, Édouard Daladier, Neville Chamberlain et Benito Mussolini fait figure de témoin souvent cité à comparaître par les politiciens qui s’efforcent de justifier leurs décisions en matière de politique étrangère. Pour expliquer l’invasion désastreuse de l’Egypte par les Britanniques en 1956, on a fait passer Gamal Nasser pour un survivant des dictateurs fascistes des années 30. S’il avait fallu l’apaiser comme ces derniers, les conséquences auraient été catastrophiques au Moyen-Orient.

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