La mauvaise leçon de Munich

NEW YORK – Il y a pile soixante-dix ans ce mois-ci, à Munich, le Premier ministre britannique Neville Chamberlain signait un document permettant à l’Allemagne de s’octroyer un gros morceau de la Tchécoslovaquie. Les “accords de Munich” seraient considérés plus tard comme une trahison abjecte à l’égard de ce que Chamberlain appelait “un pays lointain duquel on ne sait pas grand-chose.” Mais ils n’étaient pas beaucoup à penser ainsi à l’époque.

L’opinion de Chamberlain, qui pensait que la Grande-Bretagne n’était pas encore prête à faire la guerre à l’Allemagne nazie et que la diplomatie et le compromis constituaient des solutions plus sûres, était en fait partagée par de nombreux Européens à qui leur expérience personnelle avait appris les horribles conséquences de la guerre. Néanmoins, l’histoire a affublé Chamberlain d’une réputation de lâcheté, et l’on met souvent sur le dos de son “apaisement” de l’Allemagne nazie la responsabilité de la campagne d’Hitler visant à conquérir le reste de l’Europe.

Chamberlain avait sûrement tort. La Grande-bretagne et la France auraient pu arrêter l’Allemagne. “Munich 1938” fut l’une des rares occasion, dans l’histoire des démocraties, où la diplomatie prudente s’est révélée être un échec. Ce qu’il fallait alors, c’était un héros obstiné et romantique, prêt à mettre en jeu la destinée de son pays en se battant, “quel qu’en soit le coût,” comme disait Winston Churchill.

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