THE first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York is a good time to review some of the theories on which the United Nations was founded at San Francisco, to test those theories against the developments in the United Nations since the first General Assembly meeting in London, and to analyze the record and speculate on the future.
The United Nations was founded on the basic theory that there must not be a world war every generation; that the death of some 40 million human beings through war during the past thirty years was enough; and that it was imperative, if the nations were to justify the notion that they were civilized, to combine together to prevent, and if necessary to repel, future aggression.
Nobody denies the validity of this basic premise. It is still good. Mr. Byrnes, Mr. Molotov and Mr. Bevin may argue about everything else but they agree on this. There is very little evidence that the nations have learned as much as they have suffered or that they are willing to do without the things that lead to war; but peace, they unanimously proclaim, is a good thing. So the first theory stands.
The second theory on which the United Nations was founded was that peace depended on the unanimity not of all the states, as the Wilsonian doctrine held, but on the unanimity of those states which had the power to wage modern war.
There was a corollary to this theory which is not clearly understood, at least in the United States. This was that there was never any intention that the United Nations should have power to coerce one of the great states. These states promised each other and the world to abandon war as an instrument of policy, and on the basis of this promise, which they insisted was sufficient, agreed that the United Nations did not need to have, and should not have, sufficient force to coerce one of "The Five."
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