Herbert H. Lehman, FDR och visionen om ett krig mot fattigdomen

Miljarder satsas på krig. Kan det då vara av säkerhetspolitiskt intresse att satsa en bråkdel av detta på freden? Efter andra världskriget funderade man i USA mycket på detta. Det fanns isolationister som sa att efter andra världskriget borde man lämna Europa och resten av världen åt sitt öde och svälta ihjäl om det var så. Men det fanns andra som ansåg att man tvärtom borde hjälpa till att bygga upp världen och förklara krig mot fattigdom och svält och underutveckling.

En av dem var presidenten Franklin Delanore Roosevelt (FDR). Som hans son dokumenterade i As He Saw It hade president Roosevelt ganska radikala ideer för världen efter andra världskriget. Han ville bygga freden på antikolonialism. Det gjorde att Churchill och Roosevelt tidvis hade ganska heta diskussioner om hur världen skulle se ut efter kriget.

”I am firmly of the belief that if we are to arrive at a stable peace it must involve the development of backward countries. Backward peoples. How can this be done? It can’t be done, obviously, by eighteenth-century methods. Now—”“Who’s talking eighteenth-century methods?”“Whichever of your ministers recommends a policy which takes wealth in raw materials out of a colonial country, but which returns nothing to the people of that country in consideration. Twentieth-century methods involve bringing industry to these colonies. Twentieth-century methods include increasing the wealth of a people by increasing their standard of living, by educating them, by bringing them sanitation — by making sure that they get a return for the raw wealth of their community.”

En annan som delade Roosevelts åsikter var Herbert Henry Lehman director of foreign relief and rehabilitation operations for the US Department of State som från 1943 kom at jobba med Förenta Nationernas katastrofprogram.

I ett tal 17 juni 1943 sa Lehman att hans vision var att USA skulle ta ledningen i att bygga upp världen igen.

”It is not military necessity alone, however, that compels us to undertake relief and rehabilitation measures. Millions of people have been plundered, despoiled and starved. Unless the United States in concert with the other United Nations, extends a helping hand to these peoples, we can anticipate with certainty that the liberated areas for decades will suffer from disrupted economies, crushing burdens of unemployment, shattering inflations and the internal turmoil which adds up to chaos.”

Det skulle kosta pengar men vara billigare än krig och det skulle vara lönsamt, för man skulle bygga upp marknader igen för amerikansk framtida handel. Och handen skulle sträckas ut till alla, för att göra forna fiender till vänner.

If we have learned anything from the decades just behind us it is this: That we cannot, even if we could, make ourselves secure in a world in which millions of men, women and children are dying of want or by epidemic Let us recognize frankly that freedom from want is a basic component of any enduring peace and that if America is to have any hope of lasting peace and a stable world economy it must help see to it that the liberated peoples of the world are restored as rapidly as possible to a self-sustaining basis.

That is merely enlightened self-interest.

We can not live with security in a world half rich, half pauperized. International trade can not flourish or sound economic expansion take place in a world tormented by expectations of the violence that is born of suffering and misery…

The relief and rehabilitation of war-stricken nations is the necessary first step toward a balanced economy in which a high level of consumption will prevent the piling up of those great stocks of surplus goods which would otherwise be quickly accumulated after this war in all the primary producing countries. Relief and rehabilitation is but the opening phase of the post-war era. The long-range reconstruction which follows this phase must be conducted on the basis of world trade. By emergency relief and rehabilitation measures now we can make it possible for the liberated peoples of Europe and Asia to become in succeeding years the customers for our goods. Thus by restoring the basic economic equilibrium of these peoples we can hope to create demand which will provide jobs for the millions of fighting men who will be streaming home from our victorious armies to take jobs in an industry converting back to production for peace…

The knowledge that American and other United Nations are prepared to extend relief and rehabilitation to the victims of war and to sustain the spirit of resistance among the down-trodden people of Europe and Asia when the hour of freedom strikes, will help to transform those people into a cohesive group, ready and willing to cooperate in the battle of liberation. Should America’s readiness to bring relief to the weary peoples of Europe and Asia shorten the war by but a week or two, the United States will have saved far more on war costs than the total outlays which can be anticipated in the field of relief and rehabilitation.

The deepest aspiration of the peoples of Europe and Asia will be for an opportunity to rebuild their own lives toward a system of stability and order. Unless they are helped in the initial stages to help themselves, this opportunity for sound reconstruction may be lost. It would be folly for this country and the United Nations to pour out their total substance in a complete effort for victory and hesitate to expend the final dollars which would make possible the realization of the objectives for which they fought—theestablishment of a stable world economy and of a peace that will endure.

The cry of nations and their peoples for assistance in the first hours of liberation will present democracy with a supreme test. The fate of all United Nations’ attempts to insure banishment of these global wars may well be determined by the success of the first joint action in relief and rehabilitation administration. This work of binding up the wounds of those who suffer, of preventing and halting death by starvation, exposure, disease and neglect, transcends the realm of political allegiances and can give full expression to the highest principles and instincts of all peoples.

If the nations of the world should fail to work in mutual cooperation for these high principles, what hope could we hold for political cooperation to banish war? If it is true that nations learn to work together by actually working together, then the joint effort of the United Nations to help the liberated peoples of the world may well provide the experience which will make possible the more gigantic enterprises to come.

It is given to us, twice within the span of a lifetime, to attempt to devise a peace in which all men can live in freedom from fear and want. We failed last time. We dare not fail again.

Efter det andra världskriget såg vi en del av detta program iMarshallplanen och Västeuropas enande. Programmet visade sitt värde och byggde bort fiendskapet mellan Usa, Tyskland, Italien och Frankrike.Man kan bara fundera på vad som hade skett om man följt visionerna USA:s ledarskap hade vid tiden och byggt bort fiendskap och hat på global skala.

Principerna funkar ännu. För en bråkdel av vad USA:s försvar kostar hade man kunnat försöka bygga bort fiendskap och hat i stora delar av världen. Enligt principen att egoism och altruism går hand i hand. Det är givetvis i de ekonomiskt välmående ländernas intresse att alla länder på planeten blir välmående. Det blir marknader för de egna produkterna och samtidigt blir man själv en marknad för de uppbyggda ländernas produkter.


Nazisterna i Europa gillade inte dessa efterkrigsplaner utan spred ut myten att id+en om kriget mot fattigdomen bara handlade om att göra världen beroende av USA:s produkter. Resten av världen skulle göras till slavar under USA. Senare kopierade kommunisterna denna nazistiska grauelpropaganda och spred samma myt.

Aftenposten i Norge skrev om Lehmans planer 17 maj 1943. AP var vid denna tid kontrollerat av nazisterna.