public vs. private morality

I think this article really hits at the heart of what I’d like to focus the debate more on. In the author’s words:

“Shultz was operating under a different morality than the one normally applied by humanitarians. His was a public morality; not a private one. He and the rest of the Reagan administration had a responsibility to the hundreds of millions of Americans under their charge… And the American public’s interest clearly dictated that of the two states, Iran and Iraq, Iran at the time constituted the greater threat. In protecting the public interest of even a liberal power, a statesman cannot always be nice; or humane.”

Public vs. private morality: a most ineluctable differentiation to be made. Obviously, any sane person would hear the story of George Shultz and the Kurds in 1988 and be disgusted with what she heard. The big picture, or in Mr. Kaplan’s words, public morality dictated otherwise. The same can be said for the US cozying up t0 Deng Xiaoping after his harsh repression of the protesters at Tiananmen. But again the big picture tells us a different story. There is a lot more at play here than what you read on a sign carried by a protester.

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