Disunited Nations

Why the UN was in trouble from the start

In the months before the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, two words kept cropping up in the vocabulary of its opponents: sovereignty and legitimacy . The war, they said, would threaten the sovereignty of an autonomous state (the Baath party’s Iraq), and it would lack the legitimacy conferred by the backing of the United Nations.

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From World War To Cold War

In an exchange of letters, a man who had an immeasurable impact on how the great struggle of our times was waged looks back on how it began

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“That Hell-hole Of Yours”

In 1943 Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Britain’s poorest, most dismal African colony, and what he saw there fired him with a fervor that helped found the United Nations

President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not look favorably on European colonialism. Like most Americans, he believed that the self-determination clause of the 1941 Atlantic Charter should apply to all peoples, not just Europeans. In the war’s early years he so disagreed with Britain’s prime minister, Winston Churchill, on the future of the British Empire that the two heads of state tacitly agreed to avoid discussing the topic.Read more »

Echoes Of A Distant War

The half-remembered Korean conflict was full of surprises, and nearly all of them were unpleasant

Korea is in the news again, and it’s ugly news. North Korea may or may not have the capability to make nuclear weapons, and North Korea’s aging dictator, Kim Il Sung, is unwilling to let international inspectors find out. The United Nations is talking of sanctions. The United States is pointedly scheduling military maneuvers with the army of the Republic of South Korea. Some of the media’s self-chosen secretaries of state summon us, from their word processors, to sturdy firmness.Read more »

A Postage Stamp History Of The U.S. In The Twentieth Century

Here is the federal government’s own picture history of our times—and it tells us more than you might think

FEW ARE AWARE of a major publishing project that has been sponsored by the federal government and some of our leading citizens over the past eight decades. It is a lavishly illustrated history of the United States in our times and it comes in parts—on postage stamps, to be precise. The story it tells may say as much about how we see ourselves as about what we’ve done since 1900. Read more »

What We Got For What We Gave

The American Experience With Foreign Aid

Imagine a person of great wealth with a habit of giving away vast sums and lending more. In order to understand his character, we should examine how the money is dispensed and why. Who are the recipients? What does the donor expect of them in return? How does he react if his expectations are not fulfilled? By asking the same questions of a wealthy and seemingly generous government, we can acquire a similar insight into its character. Read more »

Recognizing Israel

The behind-the-scenes struggle in 1948 between the President and the State Department

In the nearly thirty years that have passed since President Harry Truman issued the directives to support the partition of Palestine and afterward to recognize the State of Israel, the motivations of the President have been the subject of extensive historical discussion. A school of revisionist historiography has emerged which argues that President Truman’s Palestine policy was motivated by the purely political consideration of wooing the Jewish electoral vote.Read more »

Disarmament Conferences: Ballets At The Brink

“Almost every time a serious disarmament effort got under way, it barely managed to move forward an inch or two before a great world cataclysm intervened”

As spring moved northward over Europe in 1970, a familiar scene was enacted in Vienna, a city where diplomacy is as much a part of the civic tradition as steelmaking in Pittsburgh. In April, Soviet and American officials exchanged greetings, drank champagne, smiled at news cameras, and then settled down to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, known to headline writers as SALT . So, with the opening of the 1970’s mankind’s long dream of disarmament once more cast its spell. It is a compelling vision.Read more »

Journey Into Our Times

The “conversion” of Arthur Vandenberg, told by a former Secretary of State, his sometime adversary but also his friend

 

The first time I worked with Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg was fairly early in the course of that change in his outlook on the world which one might call his long day’s journey into our times.

 
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