IN the closing days of the General Assembly last December one heard even responsible heads of delegations remark, sadly, bitterly: "The United Nations is done for." Others exulted. They took the visible discouragement of the Western delegations as a sign that the "interference" and "one-sided intervention" of the United Nations in places and problems around the world would soon be terminated. They were correct, of course, in calling the U.N. interference one-sided. By definition and in fact the United Nations is on the side of the weak and threatened against the strong and greedy.
The United Nations, though not yet done for, is indeed on trial for its life--at any rate in the incarnation that enabled a country like the United States to think of it, as statesmen said so often, as "a cornerstone of American foreign policy." The verdict may be rendered sooner than anyone expected, as we see from the manner in which the Soviet bloc and fellow-travelling states exploited the crisis precipitated by the death of Patrice Lumumba. They pounced on the killing to attack ferociously and with preposterous untruth the United Nations itself, its operations in the Congo, the office and person of the Secretary-General and all countries which recognized the government of President Kasavubu. To add intimidation to calumny they organized attacks on foreign embassies (including in some instances those of the United States) in capitals where no public act can be spontaneous and the only demonstrations possible are those approved by the government itself.
If the assault succeeds, if the power to manipulate the United Nations for its own designs passes to the Soviet Union, or if the organization is rendered impotent by the structural changes which Mr. Khrushchev has demanded, it is indeed "done for" as a functioning agency of world collaboration. And though Moscow may be frustrated now, the trial is merely adjourned.
When the final showdown comes, whether on the Congo, the Secretary-General or some other issue, the result will depend
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