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International Organization

THE RELATIONS AMONG NATIONS are scarcely those one would find in a purposeful organization. Rather, the observer is impressed by the profound lack of shared beliefs among the national governments except the essentially negative belief that each state should go its own way. Imagine the chaos that would permeate an administrative agency, a political party, or even that barely organized network called the public, if the conditions attaching to international relations were present!

The persistence of the ideal of universal brotherhood seems marvellous indeed in view of the actual state of international relations. Whole peoples are segregated from one another by iron curtains and communicate principally by mutual abuse. Dozens of different educational systems exist, the chief purpose of which is to teach children to be able to read one side of the abuse, and to master the mechanics of damaging other people. Then, there is the telltale fact that in all countries travel abroad is regarded as a privilege, not as a normal movement. In a host of ways, the purpose of men is to forestall international organization.

Yet there are certain stable patterns of behavior in international affairs. For example, nations conduct wars and diplomacy in similar ways. Patterns of behavior tend to become institutions or organizations such as the International Red Cross or the United Nations. So we may well study international relations with an eye towards those tendencies of behavior that have almost achieved the status of worldwide international organization. In other spheres of politics, there are so many political organizations to study that we can afford to be impatient with mere tendencies. The international sphere, however, to most people's views, desperately needs organization, and the problem is too important to be dismissed, no matter how meager the materials of history.

Three principal modes of organizing international relations provide us with the general divisions of this chapter. The first is the imperial method, illustrated differently by the Roman Empire and the Medieval Church. The second is the shared beliefs in the balance of power and international law. The third method of organizing international relations is by international organs with federal or confederational authority, such as the United Nations.

Roman World Order and Its Medieval Myth


As we have seen in the chapter on federalism, the ancient Greeks failed to achieve international peace despite their wonderfully cultured city-states. They organized several voluntary associations or leagues, none of which developed into a true federal state or brought peace by voluntary co-operation. Although the Greek cities managed together to fight off conquest by the oriental empires, they finally succumbed to Alexander of Macedon and then to the Roman Republic.


The empire of the Roman Republic and the later Roman Empire were not established from a desire to co-operate with other nationalities, but were the result of conquest. In conquering the civilized world of the West and Middle East, however, the Romans had occasion to supplement their effective military might by arrangements of civil government that gave rights to the conquered. The Romans, after the fashion of their times, were not prey to torment and guilt of soul when they moved into conquered lands. No Roman consul is known to have beseeched the Almighty, as President McKinley did on the question of governing the Philippines, for advice on the disposal of new lands. The Romans occupied foreign lands, imposed Roman governors, destroyed their principal individual enemies, instituted an orderly military or civil administration, left the inhabitants with their local institutions, and diverted a not too great amount of local treasures to Rome.

Occasionally revolts of nationalities flared up, but most of the time the many groups forming the Empire felt that they could prosper and be free within the Empire at least as well as they could without. Individuals from all parts of the Empire moved at will from province to province. In Rome itself, long before the Christian era, grumpy, old politicians spoke angrily of the babel of tongues and characters that inhabited the Eternal City.


The fact is that the Romans, with no great love or hatred of other people, earned universal admiration for their administrative system. By tolerating strange cultures within their empire and by allowing other people sooner or later to share their own political institutions, they caused a great imperial loyalty to arise. As the centuries passed, one could hardly say when Rome as the mistress of colonies died and the Roman Empire as an international unity began. Sufficient to say that for many generations Italians, Gauls, Greeks, Spaniards, Egyptians, Mesopotamians and many other local groups accorded sovereign legitimacy to the Roman Empire. And the legitimacy that was granted the imperial rule (imperium) seriously hampered the efforts of hundreds of medieval kings to establish their own legitimacy, save on the basis of charisma (Charlemagne), or on some accredited claim of being Roman Emperor (Charlemagne, later on).


A striking development during Roman times was the development of a body of international law called the jus gentium. This "law of the peoples" was an extraction and compilation from the analogous and common elements of the laws found among the peoples of the Empire and the fringes beyond the boundaries of the Empire. A "foreigners' judge," praetor peregrinus, applied and developed this law in the many disputes that arose among individuals travelling to Rome and other parts of the Empire. Similar in important respects to modern international law, the jus gentium had the most important quality of being enforced by an adequate administrative machinery.

Gradually, the jus gentium was infiltrated by elements of a theory of natural law. As the Empire was integrated, the jus gentium became part of the civil law, and, finally, its elements are to be found in the great Code of Justinian. It must be admitted that this is an ideal course for international law to run, and modern international jurists have such a career in mind for their rather ineffectual counterpart.


Medieval politists held fast to the ideal of universal empire, but demanded, as the credentials for establishing such an empire, that authority be descended from Rome. Rome, of course, was no longer in a situation where it might export legitimate force. It could only exert spiritual power. The new age had two such psychological instruments, the idea of a grand unity just referred to and the spiritual authority of the Roman Catholic Church. The idea of unity was perhaps a hindrance, except as it worked through the Church, because it was practically impossible to realize. While their fields rotted, and their peoples starved and fell prey to brigands, the medieval princes competed for the elusive imperial honors. Here was the earthly Holy Grail, sought for through great misery but never found.

The Church did better than the temporal rulers, granted that no absolute supremacy could be achieved. It was an age when violence was so customary and important as a means that few could see anything practical in peace. Yet some mitigation of warfare was accomplished by recurrent Church movements to establish the "Peace of God." At the end of the eleventh century, a "Truce of God" was declared. It aimed with some success at confining private warfare to certain periods of the year only.

Subsequently, peace leagues were formed by the Church to propagandize for peace and, in a few cases, to impose punishment on transgressors. The weak and spasmodic machinery of enforcement, it may be imagined, had to rely on motives other than dislike of aggression in order to strengthen itself. When several motives, including the dislike of aggression, were joined, punitive action sometimes resulted. "Transgressors," then as in recent times, very often happened to be principalities without powerful friends, but with temporal and religious enemies that bad been nursing old grudges.

The Equilibrium of Nations and International Law


The Treaty of Westphalia (1648), ending the Thirty Years' War, marked the beginning of the modern system of national states. It "recognized" the "equality" and "independence" of all the states of Europe. Now, of course, this agreement did not change much the character of the players in the game of international politics; it merely changed the conditions of play from poker to bridge. The ghost of the Roman Empire was banished from the scene; no group now claimed a right to omnipotence. Religion was put aside as the stipulated object of conflict. Each nation was given a new deal; its internal affairs were not supposed to be the business of other nations; only its external moves and motives could legitimately provoke the other governments into warlike acts towards it.

Two major developments followed the new nationalistic kind of international relations. One was the growth of the "balance-of-power" idea. The other was the growth of "international law." We may discuss them in turn, realizing always that international conflict, whatever the changes in its mode or rationalization, played the paramount role in international life.


The balance of power is the name given to a prevailing system of international relations in which peaceful and bellicose national actions are dominated by a strategy of preventing any single power from achieving a monopoly of strength (see Figure 12). It is to be distinguished from the imperial system, where the predominant motives for action are to maintain an existing monopoly (Roman) or recapture a vanished monopoly (medieval).

The balance-of-power system is also to be distinguished from the imperialist system, in which the predominant motives are revolutionary in nature, as, for example, to establish the rights of man everywhere (French Republican and Napoleonic Wars), to spread the gospel (Christian crusades, Mohammedan expansion), to achieve world communism (Soviet imperialism), to exploit the riches of the world (Spanish imperialism of the sixteenth century, English imperialism of the eighteenth century).



(International Equilibrium)

A. Equilibrium in which nation "4" is very strong. (Example: France under Napoleon is nation "4.")

B. Equilibrium in which nation "1" has accumulated strength in relation to nation "4." (Example: Germany under William II is nation "1.")

1. each nation within the balance of power network is a circle

2. size of circle represents strength

3. lines represent alliances; arrows represent direction of force The "ideal" situation: A disposition of international means fixed to immediately repel any disturbance of the equilibrium. This disposition requires, in theory, the constant equating (through frequent jiggling) of the opposing forces at any possible rupture point.

No age is free of the balance-of-power motive. Soviet imperialism today is complemented by a balance-of-power motive aimed at containing the power of the United States in western Europe and elsewhere. Many medieval men fought to maintain an equilibrium, even though the shadow of the Holy Roman Empire overcast the proceedings.


The strategy of the balance of power has as its major aim this situation: that no nation shall be in a position to destroy the power of a combination of other nations that can be expected to join together to prevent monopoly. The classic illustration of this condition is English foreign policy from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. In the eighteenth century and part of the nineteenth century, England intervened on the continent by policy and by arms to prevent the Bourbon kings and Napoleon Bonaparte from destroying the Hapsburg regime based on Austria-Hungary and its allies.

When Prussia united Germany in 1870, after defeating France, England supported France against German power, ultimately entering World War I on the side of France. France, meanwhile, supported her own position against Germany by allying with Russia against the Austro-German alliance, and, when the Bolshevists seized power in Russia, attempted to strengthen her position in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. This last move on France's part failed in the face of Nazi activities in Eastern Europe. Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia fell under German influence in the 1930's, leaving France dependent upon Britain and upon Russia.

The Soviet Union, however, ideologically hostile to France and England, could not be counted on to support France against Hitler, especially after France and England refused Russian aid in settling the demands of Hitler in Czechoslovakia at Munich in 1938. On the other hand, the Soviet Union could not enter the lists on the side of Germany. In August, 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed a nonaggression pact. The Soviet Union first waited out the German war against the West and then was forced to fight against Germany. Hitler had no intention of allowing Soviet Russia to amass strength while Germany languished in the West. As matters turned out, Hitler acted precipitously and foolishly. He recklessly invited enemies of great strength while gaining allies of modest strength in Japan and Italy. Like Napoleon, he acquired enemies who were joined together not out of mutual esteem but to fight a threat to the existing order.

Not only the great states but also the smaller states played the strategy of the balance of power over the last several centuries. Countries like Venice, Hungary, Savoy, Spain, Poland, and Czechoslovakia tried to achieve security and maintain their independence by allying themselves now with one, now with another, of the great powers. Their continued existence or their aspirations to independence (if they were not already states) were fostered by the reluctance of the great powers to see them assimilated into or destroyed by some threatening nation. In his Politics among Nations, Dr. Hans Morgenthau quotes a letter by Queen Mary of Hungary, written in 1553, in which she writes of the Venetians: "You know how they fear the power of the one and of the other of the two princes [Charles V of Austria and Francis I of France] and how they are concerned to balance their power."


The balance of power, says Dr. Morgenthau, is achieved by four general methods: the principle of "divide and rule"; compensations in the form of territorial grants, colonial and trading concessions (and, we may add, outright subsidies); armaments; and alliances and counteralliances.

The first method-divide and rule-has been consistently used by Germany to fight Russian attempts to unite eastern Europe in a pan-Slavic federation, for fear that Slavic power would be massed on the edge of Germany.

The Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession, exhibits the use of compensations to maintain the balance; the French Bourbons and Austrian Hapsburgs divided Spanish territorial possessions between them in a manner calculated to conserve the European equilibrium. Other illustrations of the use of compensation are the French post-World War I policy by which France tried to keep its eastern European allies out of the arms of Germany by means of loans, among other things, and the Marshall Plan by which America has tried to keep western Europe from allying with the Soviet Union.

The armament race is another common symptom of the jiggling of the equilibrium. A territorial conquest (like that of the Nazis in Austria, for example) will cause a nation to expand its munitions production and strengthen its frontier forces (as did France after the Austrian Putsch).

Mutual-aid alliances, by which one nation agrees to go to the aid of another nation in the event of war, are also common; they seek to establish a condition under which attempts to expand are frustrated by a forceful counterpoise to expansion. The French-Eastern European agreements, alluded to previously, exemplify this practice.


The balance of power as the basis for international relations rests on some premises that must be made clear. A nation's leaders may dream of empire; but no nation may believe in imperium or imperialism as a practical way of settling permanently the sphere of the equilibrium. Thus, Italy could manage to take part in the balance-of-power arena quite well until Mussolini went beyond the point of dreaming of imperium to the point of believing a restoration of the Roman imperium a practical idea. However, a nation may strive for the balance of power in one sphere while being imperialistic in another sphere. For example, England in the eighteenth century sought a balance in Europe and empire overseas.

Another premise of the balance-of-power principle is that the participants in the equilibrium do not believe a legal order founded either on international co-operation or on international authority is a practical solution. Nations operating according to the balance-ofpower principle may join organizations like the League of Nations but they continue to practice "secret diplomacy" according to the balance-of-power principle.

In addition, the balance-of-power principle assumes that nations are free to shift as necessity demands they shift-almost automatically, by the pure principle. Otherwise, the situation will develop into one resembling a retail trading market when a single concern owns a number of stores that are supposed to be free to set their own prices but in fact are not. It is most unlikely that Soviet Russia today will let Poland ally itself with France in order to get more French goods and perhaps, later on, better concessions from the Russians. It is even unlikely that a nation in western Europe will be allowed by .the United States to ally itself with Russia.

From these examples we can see that the balance of power, which is premised on flexibility of maneuvers and diplomacy of the traditional, amoral type, now faces extreme rigidity in international affairs. If an allied nation has any choice at all, it can jump the scale once and no more. It is then transfixed by all political instruments to its new polar position, either for or against one of the superpowers, America or Russia. Both in England and France, and in South America as well, there has been talk of independence, of a third force to enter and give meaning to the equilibrium idea. But it has come to naught and is unlikely to capture the leadership and resources at this point in time that would be required to influence decisively the policies of the superpowers.


So it seems that the age of balanced power is passing, and with it, some of its most noted paraphernalia. Time was when a new treaty caused the greatest excitement among connoisseurs of international affairs. It would be scrutinized meticulously for its meaning to the existing equilibrium. Men would ask: Who has sold out to whom? Who is aiming at an advantage? What effects will this have on our allies, and can we use this treaty to cause jealousy and disaffection among the opposing coalition's allies? And so on. Today a treaty is often administrative in nature-that is, it presents a way of handling a technical problem or solving a problem of minor jurisdiction within the larger system. Or it is often the publicized part of a well-known fact that A consistently dominates B and leads B by the hand, economically, socially, and politically.

Diplomacy adorned the age of the balance of power as chivalrous knights and scholarly clerics adorned the late Middle Ages. The individual diplomats were as necessary to kings and republican committees as agents on the stock exchange are for investment bankers. The shrewdness, deftness, and facility of diplomats for arranging affairs often brought great gain to their countries. Inernational conferences, at which their talents were arrayed in free-for-all competition, made decisions of great moment to the status quo.

Today, the conditions for the effective functioning of diplomacy and conferences are absent. Diplomats with nothing to give sit at tables where there is nothing to take. Their governments, if they are the two or three most powerful of all, have locked up everything at home. The agents of the smaller states come to get inside information on events, not to make history.


Of all the institutions that have suffered from the decline of balance-of-power politics, perhaps the most noteworthy victim is international law. If we were to trace the importance of international law in the history of international affairs, we should describe it as a lusty infant in the seventeenth century, a promising child in the eighteenth century, a young adult with a disturbing muscular weakness in the nineteenth century, and a helpless cripple in the present.

The career of international law was importantly related to that of the balance of power. The politics of balanced power required a corresponding quasi-legal order. Both processes - the balancing of power and the development of international law - were based on the ultimate premises of equality of nations and self-help. These processes could not settle with finality the question of peace and war. They might only moderate that question, substituting conditional warfare for total warfare, and substituting a fair degree of observance of common rules for a disregard of international bonds. Consequently, the history of international law has never satisfied those who seek a legal system as effective as the legal systems that regulate the domestic affairs of a nation.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Vittoria, Suarez, Gentili, and Grotius wrote treatises on the "laws" of war, with some reference to peace. Taking the several nations of the world as equal in world affairs and all-powerful within their domestic spheres, they describe some of the uniformities observable among the nations in their relations with one another. Thus, the practice of exchanging prisoners of war was accepted, rather than the practices of making them into slaves or of killing them. Save Gentili, they believed that there was a universal law of nature which could be discovered by reason and good faith, and that nations "should" obey that law.

Of course, what nations "should" do and what they "would" do are quite different matters. Diplomats and politecians might read Grotius and approve of his ethics, but, when called to their desks, they could hardly behave as he wished them to. "Treaties must be obeyed," wrote international lawyers. But the practical politician, in order to survive, said: "Treaties must be obeyed unless the national interest demands the contrary." "Neutrals must be allowed the freedom of the seas by belligerents," wrote the jurists. It was a dictum that pleased the Americans in the last years of the eighteenth century, but Britain paid scant heed to it. Then came the Civil War, and Britain claimed the doctrine strongly, while the Union cause avoided it like the plague.

Still, it is foolish to be cynical. The fact is that there was something to international law over two centuries and more. It can be stated best in Montesquieu's terms: the Law of Nations requires nations to help each other as much as possible in time of peace and to injure each other only so much as is necessary in time of war. In an age of total war, this principle, once so trite and so vague, now appears to have been a great accomplishment. From it sprang practices that at times threatened to harry the dogs of war from earth.


Mediation--the friendly intercession of a third party in a dispute-stopped wars like the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, prevented armed conflicts, and helped to settle conflicting claims of nations that were out of touch with one another Arbitration-the adjudication of a dispute between two parties by a third party or a panel of disinterested persons, taking into account principles acceptable to both parties--settled some significant disputes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Large numbers of states declared their adherence to treaties that laid down codified rules for the conduct of war.

Dozens of international organizations dealing with special problems got under way in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Among the earliest of these were the Universal Telegraph Union (1865) , the Universal Postal Union (1874), and the European Union of Railway Freight Transportation (1890) . The names of these organizations and of the others that followed signify that, in important practical matters, the national states had decided that efficiency, cultural interchange, and economic progress did not have to wait for a world state.

Finally, we may mention the efforts to establish true international law, with adjudication of disputes. At The Hague, later at the League of Nations, and ultimately at the United Nations, a panel of judges was established by election of the participating nations. This International Court of Justice, as it came to be called, was to interpret international law when pronouncing judgment on facts and law in cases involving member nations.


Now the inquiring reader may ask what was this international law that these bodies were supposed to apply. The question should not be particularly bothersome, because it is a rare jurist who, given the right to declare the law, cannot find a law to declare. Common law courts never had serious trouble with this problem. And the judges of some Roman Law countries adhere to the doctrine that there is a law to cover every case that comes before them.

More particularly, however, the international law that these international tribunals expected to apply came from four sources: (1) conventions and treaties to which the parties involved in a suit are parties; (2) international custom (the modal practices of nations in their dealings with one another); (3) general principles of public law accepted in the domestic legal systems of states; (4) the writings of jurists and the precedents set by previous court decisions on points of international law.

This richness of sources prevented, and will continue to prevent, an international court from begging leave of a case for lack of law. However, .the ineffectiveness of international law as compared with the law as we defined it earlier stands out when we realize that there are no police officers and legal officers to prosecute "criminal" cases under the law of nations. Furthermore, there are no executive officers of the court. Finally, individual damage must be converted into a national claim before it can be taken up in the court, and even then, the defendant must be another nation, not the individual culprit.

Before the 1930's there seemed to be a trend towards granting international courts more and more jurisdiction, just as there seemed to be a trend towards employing international organizations for doing a number of other tasks of a legislative (multilateral treaty) and administrative (of the Postal Union type) kind. But since that time, the trend of international affairs, both major and minor in importance, has been diverted by the politics of the great issues of totalitarian rule and cold war.

The success of the law and the courts, in the last analysis, whether we be discussing domestic or international affairs, depends on the power of the supporting authorities in the realm that courts and law profess to cover. International courts depend on some international authority in the realm of international affairs. Otherwise, at best, they illuminate with lawfulness only those crevices of international conflict that the forces of independent nationalism find too trivial to darken.

Peace and Law by Co-operative Force


What has been the nature of attempts to organize a jural order of the world in which the law will be declared and enforced as a matter of course? Political writers have sometimes dedicated themselves to proposing ideal schemes for the organization of mankind. Dante Alighieri, the great medieval poet, proposed a universal empire, jointly commanded by a temporal and a spiritual state. Later examples of the same ideal of an international authority are to be found in the writings of the Abbe St. Pierre, of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and of Immanuel Kant.

Recent times have seen any number of detailed proposals for world organization, ranging from the wildest imperial dreams of international revolutionary associations composed of Fascist or workers' spokesmen to the scholarly, technically elegant compositions of the famous card-playing expert, Ely Culbertson, or of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, sponsored by the University of Chicago.


In describing the two modern attempts at putting into practice the ideals, of world organization, we must be cautious about exaggerating the differences between the balance of power and a world order. The balance of power, we have said, no longer can govern with moderate success the relations among nations. But certain aspects of the balance of power are perennial companions of any political and legal order. The devoted advocates of world order often believe that conflicts will be reduced to near zero by the magic of universal organization. But, recalling that the national political organization has not eliminated conflict in the internal affairs of nations, one cannot take such beliefs seriously. Under any conceivable world order, nations will wrangle, men will differ bitterly, selfish interests will prosper, and honest men will be bedeviled and frustrated. Combinations will form and blocs will seek control of the international machinery. The balance-of-power idea and practice will no longer monopolize the policies of nations and peoples, but they will continue to operate within the world order.

Nevertheless, the world order that may be postulated realistically is one which will box in the politics of nations and interests on four sides: First, legitimacy will be accorded the world order; a dominant ideology of allegiance to the world will prevade the minds of a significant number of politists. Second, a consensus will develop, forming a basis for collective action; beliefs shared by a vast majority of the world's people will dominate .the words and actions of the new order's officers and institutions. In addition, a nearly universal area of free communication will embarrass special interests and prevent men who covertly espouse the principles of the balance of power or other "antisocial" principles from overtly conspiring on their behalf in some isolated corner of the world. And, last, the world order will require large-scale administration that will have several effects: politists who are loyal to the world order will increase proportionately to sectional or nationalistic politists; administration will bring home to peoples everywhere the functional, workaday meaning of a world order; and the institutions of the world order will become sufficiently durable and massive to resist destruction. Even a relatively ineffective world organization, the League of Nations, showed some durabilitywriting of the administrators of the League before World War II, E. F. RanshofenWertheimer declared: "The Secretariat commanded its own loyalties, it had its own corporate reaction, its own psychology. This basic unity survived even the outbreak of the war . . . ."


We will now analyze the two great operating international organizations of modern times, the League of Nations and the United Nations and try to understand why neither achieved the conditions of a world order.

The League of Nations, of course, came first; its Covenant was drafted by a special commission of the Peace Conference after World War I, under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson of the United States. It was approved by a Plenary Conference of the victorious powers in 1919, and the League came into being on January 10, 1920. The League's subsequent career demonstrated the difficulties besetting any project for a world order by co-operative force.

Twenty-nine states formed the initial membership, thirteen neutrals joined in 1920, and the addition of further subscriptions, including those of ex-enemy nations like Germany, brought the total membership to fifty-four by 1928. The United States, whose President inspired the organization of the League, never became a member. A dislike of becoming involved in commitments to other nations, quite widespread at that time in America, combined with a violent dispute between President Wilson and a group of senators to block America's affiliation.

It is difficult at present to assess exactly the results of America's alienation from her brain child. Certainly the beginnings of the League were auspicious enough, and it is possible that American adherence to the Covenant might ultimately have made the difference between life and death for the League. America would have supplied, without doubt, a greater degree of nonpartisanship than the ultimate French and British leadership provided for the League.

Without the United States, the more disinterested motives behind the formation of the League lost a powerful spokesman, and the League became, in the opinion of many observers, an instrument for the preservation of the power position of victorious England and France. The general motivation behind the League the growing sense of world community, the desire to provide machinery for keeping the peace and for punishing breakers of the peace, the need for positive administration of the world's resources to benefit both countries that were well off and those poorly off-these general purposes were often afterwards subordinated to the purposes of preserving the status quo.


The structure of the League was formidable. Nothing like it had ever existed before. There was an assembly of all the member nations, acting through agents of their governments. There was a Council on which the "Great Powers" were permanently represented and to which, ultimately, ten nonpermanent members were elected by the Assembly for threeyear terms. The Great Powers, primarily France and England, dominated the Council and, in turn, the Council came to dominate the League. The assembly in time confined itself mostly to declaring general policies and to acting as a sounding board for international official opinion.

A Secretariat administered the affairs of the League without much executive authority. A number of specialized agencies, such as the International Labor Organization, were attached to the League and many of these had effective economic and humanitarian programs. Thus, the League, through such agencies, helped to resettle hundreds of thousands of displaced persons. It gave loans to hard-pressed nations of eastern Europe. It fought disease throughout the world and came to grips with the problems of narcotic's rings and white slavery. It hastened the freeing of certain waterways to international commerce. It gave to technically backward areas a great deal of information and technical assistance.

Yet the League failed to achieve peaceful solutions of the most important problems-aggressive nationalism and international economic maladjustments. True, the Covenant had foreseen both of these problems. In Article 12 of the Covenant, there was a provision requiring that any dispute that might lead to war be submitted to peaceful settlement. The League was to inquire, when negotiations seemed to be bogging down, into the circumstances of the conflict between two powers. Members agreed not to engage in warfare while the League was investigating. The League might then recommend adjudication or arbitration of the dispute by the Permanent Court of International Justice, or the Council itself might arrange for the settlement of the dispute in consultation with the interested parties.

If these remedies failed, or if one party defied the League, Article 16 authorized the League to inflict financial and economic penalties-such as embargoes-on the offending member, or, if deemed desirable, the League might ask its members to take up arms against the convicted aggressor.

Also, on the question of international economic maladjustments, Article 19 of the Covenant, providing for treaty revisions when deemed necessary, authorized the reform of international arrangements so that poorer powers would not be deprived of markets and raw materials.


However, the League did not employ in a determined fashion either of these two provisions for attacking the most important problems of international politics. British policy tended to regard the League as a means of preserving the balance of power. French political leaders tended to regard the League as a means of encircling Germany and preventing the rise of new powers. The Soviet Union, belatedly a member of the League, treated it for many years as a hostile capitalist coalition.

Italy, chagrined at its poor winnings in World War I, saw the League as a conspiracy of the wealthy powers to prevent the expansion and growth of the poorer powers. Germany, although it joined the League after a time, disliked many features of the organization that seemed to have been formed mostly to enforce the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles against that country. The small nations, disappointed at the abstinence of the United States, came to look with cynical eyes upon the League; to them it was often only a new version of the old balance-of-power politics.

The League, in retrospect, was a sacrifice to national interests, faint hearts, and missed opportunities. Although it could stop disputes between Sweden and Finland, Germany and Poland (when Germany was weak), Turkey and Iraq, Greece and Bulgaria, Peru and Colombia, Poland and Czechoslovakia, and even could stop minor disputes of great powers like Britain, it failed miserably over the gigantic issues of Japan in China, Italy in Ethiopia, Germany in the Rhineland and Czechoslovakia, foreign intervention in the Spanish Civil War, and Russia in Finland.

These great failures decreed the doom of the League, for the League was founded mostly to ensure peace by mutual aid or collective security. The League's failures in these matters overshadowed its bright successes in less important areas. As the final crises of World War II approached, the League was already discounted, and the failures of the final days of those crises go to the debit of the oldfashioned diplomacy of the balance of power.


The United Nations attempted to apply the lessons learned from the failures and successes of the League of Nations and of traditional diplomacy to a new international consolidation following World War Il. Whether the most important applications were made is at this point questionable. Whether the total problem of international peace can be solved even on paper is also questionable. And certainly one cannot expect a single institution to solve handily the most lamented problem in the history of mankind. In the heat of World War II, while all peoples were flushed with determination to end war, Mortimer Adler wrote that wars most probably would be with us for several centuries. It was an unpopular prediction, but many honest predictions of social science, of all degrees of substantiation, are bound to be unpopular. Fortunetellers have customers because they predict wealth and romantic encounters, not because they foretell sordidness and humdrum marriage.

The structure of the United Nations (Figure 13) promised little more than the League's structure did. The Great Powers were again entrenched in a Security Council with permanent seats. A Military Staff Committee was provided for the Council to expedite the use of force if ever the Council were to resort to force to preserve the peace and punish aggression. But each of the "Great Powers" was to have a veto over all substantive decisions of the Council, unless the power was a party to the dispute under consideration; however, if a vote was to be taken to apply sanctions, either economic or military, then a "Great Power," whether a party to the dispute or not, might veto the measure.

This means that the Security Council might not apply sanctions against any one of the "Big Five" that committed an act of aggression. The "Big Five" included the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and China. However a combination of powerful states could in the past practically always exert sufficient pressure on a weaker state to cause it to desist from some generally disapproved course of action, and it is at least questionable whether the elaborate machinery of the UN has not missed its main objective, the repression of aggressive behavior among the greater powers. The United States government and the Soviet dictatorship, it seems, had dealt everybody a hand in the United Nations, but reserved the privilege of saying "Count me out."

Thus, to take an example, the Soviet Union might veto any action, including the application of sanctions, with respect to any of its satellites, including, for example, the North Korean People's (communist) Republic. The Soviet Union could not block any action of the Council to investigate and recommend actions on any dispute to which the Soviet Union was itself a party. But, beyond such an investigation and such recommendations for action, the Council might not go; the Soviet Union could veto punitive measures voted by the Council against the U.S.S.R.



So the Security Council of the United Nations, like the Council of the League, could take few actions to which a permanent member of the Council might take umbrage. Exceptions might occur only on those matters bearing on the investigation of disputes and the suggestion of remedies short of sanctions when a great power is a party.

There was provision for an international army to enforce UN decisions, but this international army could only be called into being by the good will of the members of the United Nations. Every member had a "hidden veto" in its willingness to respond or not to respond to the command of the United Nations to furnish troops. In the Korean war, few members who voted police action against the North Korean communists sent troops to fight there under the United Nations banner.


The General Assembly under the United Nations was hardly stronger than was the Assembly of the League. Again each state government appointed and controlled its delegation and each delegation had an equal vote on all matters. The Assembly could make recommendations to its member nations and could call the attention of the Security Council to situations that might be endangering the peace. It might not interfere in the "internal affairs" of its members. It was granted a number of other powers, all of which, however, were subject to the checks and control of the Security Council. The Assembly could not govern the behavior of the Council or even of one permanent member of the Council except in the unlikely event that the mass of Assembly members were to rise up and waive the letter of the Charter. The Assembly was the voice of many opinions from all the world, but those opinions were prevented by censorship from affecting the peoples of communist countries and the several other nations where censorship exists.

Both the Security Council and the Assembly created special committees to deal with a variety of special issues that have come up. An example is the Disarmament Commission, which was created by the General Assembly to deal with armaments restrictions, especially concerning nuclear weapons. It was expanded gradually to include delegates of all Assembly members. The gigantic and fearsome problem did not, however, lend itself to UN solution, so that the success of UN efforts in this area can be measured only by the questionable assertion that interminable discussions may have had something to do with forestalling an outbreak of general warfare.

The Economic and Social Council, elected for three-year terms by the General Assembly, did represent a difference in formal organization from the League. The Council was concerned with furthering the economic and social development of member states; it was a positive organization, dedicated to the solution of such problems as unemployment, submarginal standards of living, illiteracy, and the repression of political and civil rights. The Council held conferences, provided technical assistance, investigated conditions, and made various recommendations for action to the United Nations Assembly. Note again that it could operate only on an administrative level. A century of peace or so might result in these administrative operations accumulating to a point where they might influence the total behavior of the great powers.

The Trusteeship Council, a fourteen-nation body, was assigned the task of supervising relations between a dozen non-self-governing Trust territories with 15 million people and their administering countries. An example was Tanganyika, under British trusteeship, which in a few years was granted independence. Ultimate independence for these countries is being facilitated by the Council. Actually the colonial issue was far larger, involving non-selfgoverning territories of 200 million persons and valuable economic interests. But, for one reason or another, here as elsewhere, the important problems eluded the authority of the United Nations. To be consistent with its premises, the Council should have supervised the Congo, Angola, Libya, and other areas needing an internationalist transition to independence.

There existed a number of international organizations affiliated with the United Nations such as the International Labor Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They continued along the League of Nations pattern. They performed useful administrative work and in many cases constituted international discussion groups on technical and scholarly matters. The International Bank (World Bank), for instance, was created to assist economic and industrial development in war-devastated and underdeveloped parts of the world. It has operated with funds provided by its members and has not found favor with the Soviet bloc. Operating on banking principles, which have given it something of a conservative financial cast, it has nevertheless successfully explored and negotiated a number of loan agreements with member nations for irrigation projects, manufacturing facilities, and mining. UNESCO, with headquarters in Paris, operates a number of educational and informational programs around the world. It is a rallying point for many of the world's intellectuals. It aids the United Nations in planning for basic educational and technical assistance in Africa and elsewhere. It fosters mutual appreciation among the diverse cultures of the world. It keeps up a steady, though rarely adequate, pressure on the many countries of the world in the direction of a free press and academic freedom.

Two more branches of the United Nations deserve mention. One is the Secretariat, headed by a Secretary-General, who received appointment by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. Although primarily an administrator of the many offices and thousands of personnel of the United Nations, the Secretary-General, unlike his predecessor of the League, was given the power to bring to the attention of the Security Council any situation which seems to threaten .the peace. Inherent in this right was the germ of real executive authority, but the SecretaryGeneral, unlike the American executive, was given very few major "laws" to administer. Consequently, he lacked a lever by which to expand his power.

The International Court of Justice, located at The Hague, Netherlands, was inherited from the League of Nations. It received its cases from those states that had signed blanket subscriptions to submit on many matters to its compulsory jurisdiction and from the voluntary agreement by two states to submit a case arising out of a particular dispute.

Even the brief description of the United Nations just given indicates the close resemblance between it and the League of Nations. One of the outstanding authorities on international organization, Dr. Leland M. Goodrich, concluded a study of the two instruments of international collaboration by writing:

The student of international organization must recognize the United Nations for what it quite properly is, a revised League, no doubt improved in some respects, possibly weaker in others, but nonetheless a League, a voluntary association of nations, carrying on largely in the League tradition and by the League methods. Important changes have occurred in the world distribution of power, in the world's economic and political structure, in the world's ideological atmosphere. These changes create new problems and modify the chances of success or failure in meeting them, but the mechanics remain much the same. [1]


The United Nations, like the League of Nations before it, could not flesh out its skeletal framework. It had the beginnings of everything that makes a governmental system effective but the opportunity of fulfilling nothing. Yet the years following World War II seemed to provide conditions for one large development that did not occur after World War I -regionalism. Put into the abstract language of communications, the contemporary world, as contrasted with the recent world, provided several large and rather solid clusters of supranational, though subuniversal, interests and sentiments that could become organized and effective. These were natural centers of regionalism, the organizing of mostly neighboring nations around shared interests and sentiments. Perhaps the League of Nations Covenant was not much different from the UN Charter, but it in fact applied to a European world, and a Western European world of World War victors at that. Other powers were in by sufferance, or as second-rate citizens, or not at all. Examples are numerous. A member by sufferance was Germany; back-seaters were the U.S.S.R. and China; among non-members were the United States and several colonies that are now major powers, such as India. England, France, and sometimes Italy, called the tunes and the other nations piped or hooted. Partly for this reason and partly because the world's people then did not recognize or realize their dependence upon a larger community, each nation tended much more to consider its role in international politics an isolated one. After World War II, the nations were much more driven to consider their common psychological, economic, and political interests. When therefore they had to fall back from the idea of a true world order centralized in the United Nations, they could readily perceive advantages in regional groupings. Thereupon occurred a series of regional establishments that added to some degree of mutual political concerns new bonds of financial, economic, and ideological character. These were not necessarily connected with the United Nations. They ranged from weak to strong cohesiveness in their scope and intensity of power over their members. There may be mentioned here, going from weak to strong regional communities, the Afro-Asian Bloc, the Arab League, the Organization of American States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Economic Community (and Council of Europe and European Coal and Steel Community and Euratom), and the communist bloc.

The "Afro-Asian Bloc," actually too inchoate to be called a regional organization, represents the bare minimum of regionalism. It consists of the great majority of countries of Asia and Africa. They meet on occasion, more or less informally, to present views that the members feel are not represented adequately enough in the United Nations proceedings and in the policies of the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. The political differences among the group are considerable and the permanent organization therefore almost negligible. Essentially, the bloc is formed to express the opinion of the governments concerned. Pleas for disarmament, expressions of disapproval of nuclear weapons testing, demands for the elimination of imperialism of the nineteenth-century type, and pressures for greater aid to the economic development of the poorer countries of the world constitute the principal themes of these nations, most of which have arrived very recently upon the international scene.

The Arab League, a more formal organization, was created in 1945 with the help of the British government and consists of nine Arab states with headquarters in Cairo. The Majlis is the Council of the League and consists of the prime ministers of the member governments. A Secretary-General heads the Secretariat of the League. Opposition to the growth, and indeed to the existence of Israel, was a prime purpose of the League, and economic measures among the members have taken a secondary role owing to anti-Israel activities and quarrels among some of the members, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Still, the unity among the Arab states, personified in the League, reached the highest point since their separation from the Ottoman Empire. The League can give voice to the sentiments of Arab nationalism and culture.

The Organization , of American States unites practically all the nations of the Western hemisphere. Its charter was adopted in 1948. Its supreme organ is the Inter-American Conference, which resembles the UN General Assembly. Its principal operating body between the five-year sessions of the Conference is a Council wherein each government has one vote and there is no veto. The Council concerns itself with disputes among the states of America and supervises the technical organs of the OAS, which include economic, social, juridical, and cultural councils. The Secretary-General of the OAS, chosen by the Council, is director of the PanAmerican Union, which is the Secretariat of the OAS. Apart from providing a forum for hemispheric governmental opinion to express itself, the OAS has taken a hand in controlling aggression from Nicaragua into Costa Rica in 1955, in the severing of diplomatic ties with the Dominican Republic in 1960, and in censuring the Castro regime in Cuba for its close ties with the U.S.S.R. More importantly perhaps, the OAS began to plan a hemispheric economic development fund that would be controlled by all of the nations and thus avoid some of the political, public opinion, and economic problems that have been experienced in the past when the United States has attempted unilaterally, and inadequately, to assist the technical progress and the improvement of standards of living of the countries to its south.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was originally a military alliance, formed for defense against communist Eastern Europe by the United States, Canada, and thirteen European countries. It acquired a permanent Council and set up boards dealing with semi-military and even non-military economic reconstruction. The United States found in NATO also a means of fostering European unity. NATO was a stronger regional organization than the Arab League because it was not torn by dynastic struggles, and because it was composed of great as well as lesser powers, which might ward off outside economic and political penetration.

Still, NATO has some serious internal problems. For instance, France, restive in the face of German rearmament, determined to become a member of the "nuclear club" in her own right. Committed to the conception of the "glory of France," she has often proved to be an independent partner. In addition, the colonial issue in Algeria and elsewhere has caused trouble in the alliance. For instance, during the Suez crisis of 1956, the divergent policies of France and Britain on the one hand, and the United States on the other, sent a fissure of disharmony crackling through the alliance. But despite these problems, NATO still remains the West's most important military regional organization.

Besides NATO, other regional groups, of a largely military nature, were formed. The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), organized by the United States in 1954, was one. Another was ANZUS (1951), which joined Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. A Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) was developed in the fifties by Great Britain, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan, with a pledge of American support. The Warsaw Pact (1955) committed the Soviet Union to the same kind of military aid to its seven satellites of Eastern Europe as the United States pledged to the NATO countries.

The European Economic Community was the most integrated and federal of the several voluntary regional organizations. Often called the European Common Market, it was formed in 1957 to facilitate commerce and travel among Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. A plan for mutual tariff reductions and a single tariff schedule for countries exporting to the Common Market countries was made and partially executed.

The beginnings of the EEC were in the Council of Europe (1949) that itself was fostered by dreams of a European unity and by the U.S.A. Marshall Plan to aid European reconstruction. The Council discussed and resolved a number of social, economic, and cultural questions, without however having binding authority on its member nations. The first real supranational authority in Western Europe was the European Coal and Steel Community, set up in 1952 to establish a free market for coal, iron, and steel among the six nations. Then came the broader European Economic Community. Perhaps a circle will be completed when the special military ties of NATO and the economic bonds constructed in basic industry and customs will be used to convert the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe into a parliament of Western Europe. Even with its present membership, the union has the population and production of the United States. If, as appears likely, England and other countries would join the group, then the Western European union would easily convert the bi-polar world into a tri-polar one.

The Western European community was then scarcely a federal union, whereas in the East the communist bloc of nations constituted a tightly knit intergovernmental group, held together by the power of the Soviet armed forces and the international Communist Party that served the Soviet Union. The Warsaw Pact, referred to above, was the only structure housing the bloc. That other formal apparatus of unity was largely absent did not forestall an effective operational and ideological unity, under Russian direction. The satellite system, then, is extreme regionalism.

Capabilities of the United Nations

The more nearly impossible problems of world order went to the United Nations, along with a variety of useful tasks. It could not choose its members as the regional groupings did, on the basis of common aims or force. It bad to make the most of the weak sentiments of humanity and fears of destruction that circulated about the globe. More specifically the UN could rely upon generally accepted beliefs in the unity of mankind and in international cooperation. It could count on a fear of isolation among the nations that would make them adhere to it even under disadvantageous circumstances. And then, practically, it afforded all the nations a world forum in which to vent their opinions.

The mistake is often made of treating the world-forum idea solely from a rationalistic viewpoint and then it becomes insignificant, "mere words." Actually, without the UN the world would be bipolarized still further. World discussions would occur at Moscow and Washington. Feelings of absolute helplessness and frustration would prevail among many governments and people. Often they would feverishly resort to infinitely varied "deals," or relapse into apathy. Thinking in terms of the world community would be discouraged and reduced. The United Nations is not a world government; neither is it a world press, putting out uniform propaganda. It is a highly effective medium for conveying and amplifying a wide range of controversial voices.

Its problems are well-nigh impossible to deal with. It has intervened with greatly varying success in crises in Iran, Palestine, Korea, Cyprus, Egypt, Hungary, and the Congo. At best it is a scapegoat to take the blame that sensitive nations will not accept for failure; it also helps to keep the peace by mixing into troubles between two countries, reducing the explosive potential. How can it b;; expected to accomplish disarmament; to educate the world to peace with a few million dollars; to bring about economic well-being everywhere; and to keep bloody-minded factions apart with a few national troop units that are hampered by many shifting rules? The answer is that the UN cannot do these things. It lacks legitimate authority. It lacks also strong international armed forces, the power to tax, the power to move its officials freely about the world, and the power to treat directly with the populations of the world. In sum, it lacks all of the hard realities of power. It is a wonder that it moves at all. But it cannot go very far unless a major shift in the character of world politics takes place. The United States and the U.S.S.R. are prepared to remove any problem from real UN jurisdiction as soon as it touches upon a sensitive point of national interest. This may or may not have to be, from the standpoint both of national and world interest, but the United Nations cannot then add many bricks to the structure of world order.

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