German workers remove Soviet blockades from the roads, May 1949.
Bild Bundesarchiv (Walter Heilig) / Wikimedia Commons

With the tentative accord on the status of Berlin achieved by the envoys of the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France in August it appears that this cause of contention may finally be put to rest. Agreement has been a long time in coming.

In 1948, Russian harassments blockading access to the city were submitted to the Security Council of the United Nations by France, Great Britain and the United States as "a threat to the peace within the meaning of Chapter VII of the Charter." In the spring of 1949 negotiations led to the lifting of the blockade but in 1959 the Soviets threatened to make a treaty with East Germany which, they claimed, would void the rights of the Western Allies.

The Berlin crisis of 1961 was, in the view of Richard Stebbins, "perhaps the gravest East-West crisis of the postwar period." On October 18 of that year, Secretary of State Rusk told a news conference that he would not pretend there had been no differences of opinion in the negotiations of the Western Powers on the way to deal with the Berlin crisis, but they were united on the principle of standing firm on their rights in Berlin. This was reminiscent of 1948, but now there were four Western Powers; for the German Federal Republic, whose abortion the Soviets had sought in 1948, participated on full equality with France, Great Britain and the United States. During that summer of 1961, Rusk was repeatedly asked whether the Berlin question would be taken to the United Nations. Rusk asserted that "if this crisis develops into a situation of very high tension, you can be certain it will come before the United Nations in some form."

In 1963 there were further Russian interferences with United States convoys on the autobahn. In March 1970 Four-Power talks on the status of Berlin started again. The patterns of 1948 were still sporadically recalled by hold-ups and blockages disingenuously justified by the repetition of stale excuses.

Drew Middleton quoted a "West European politician" in February 1971 as saying: "Don't ask me why the Russians continue to harass West Berlin. I just thank heaven they do; it helps hold Europe together." Is he correct, or is a quoted Dutch official more correct when he says: "Berlin is the panic button"?[i]

Even with a new agreement on the Four-Power status of Berlin and later ratification of Germany's treaties with the Soviet Union and Poland, Berlin as a geographical enclave will remain the sore thumb of Western Europe.

II

It is not necessary to retell the whole story which has been well written by Davison and Feis and others on the basis of firsthand accounts by some of the actors, even though no complete account based on all the documentary sources of history has yet been published.[ii] The thread of the present narrative-which is frankly selective-leads through a labyrinth of negotiations within the government of the United States, with the British, the French and the Russians and principally in and out of a United Nations drama in which there were many actors.

In 1948 and 1949, the United States and its Western Allies were faced recurrently with the choice among several types of procedures for attempting to settle the controversies with the Soviet Union over its blockade of Berlin. There were throughout advocates of each procedure. General Clay recommended pushing through an armored column to Berlin. On the other hand, General Frank Howley, the equally forthright commandant of the American sector of Berlin during the blockade, later answered a question put to him by Secretary of the Army Kenneth C. Royal who asked: "What would have happened if we had brought an armored convoy into Berlin when the blockade started last June?" Howley records that he gave a straight answer: "We would have got our derrières shot off"-except, he writes, "I have never been known to use the word derrière."[iii]

There were advocates of renewing negotiations with the Soviets; the British at times, and the French more often, advocated that course and had their American supporters in Washington-less so in Berlin. There were the pros and cons of reference of the blockade issue to the United Nations Security Council as a "threat to the peace" and subsequently of taking part in the mediatory efforts of the "neutrals" under the leadership of Bramuglia, Trygve Lie and Evatt.

Two points stand out in a detailed review of the experience of 1948-1949. One is the emphasis placed by the United States on the use of the United Nations, a course of action in which France and Great Britain grudgingly acquiesced. The second point is the widespread distrust by friends and allies of our motives-were they really peaceful?

The Russian blockade of Berlin began to creep around the city through restrictions on rail traffic as early as January 6, 1948, but March 1 is the date which subsequently was identified as the beginning of the full blockade. On June 25 and 26 the great airlift began despite doubts about its efficacy. The absence of an agreed plan to meet the emergency was remarkable. Even General Clay's staff in Berlin was divided; some thought the Russians were bluffing, others suggested the Allies should prepare to withdraw. Like uncertainty existed in Washington as Clay unswervingly argued for holding the line and for augmenting the airlift. The precise date is controverted but around the end of June, President Truman made one of his characteristic quick decisions-we were going to stay in Berlin; 6-29 bombers were to be sent to Europe. The Berliners were magnificently courageous-they remained so, but no one at the end of June could be sure that the airlift would meet all the city's needs.

Meanwhile on June 1, 1948, the Six-Power Conference (Benelux with France, Great Britain and the United States) reached agreement in London on the future of Germany in respect to the formation of a West German government and the control of the Ruhr without participation of the Soviet Union. Without asserting that the London agreements were inspired by the Berlin blockade, the latter was a major thrust in the cold war designed to oust the West; and the counterthrust of the West marked the beginning of a strategic advance which led to momentary tactical victory at Berlin.

I do not know who in Washington or London first became convinced that the Berlin blockade issue should be taken to the United Nations, but this course was a dominant theme in the tripartite diplomatic correspondence during the summer of 1948. At the outset, recourse to the United Nations was probably endorsed by some faute de mieux, since we were determined not to withdraw, not to fight (although the availability of the A-bombs was not ignored) and not to negotiate under duress. As early as April 14, 1948, Llewellyn Thompson, who was then Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs in the State Department, handed to Bérard, of the French Embassy, a draft of a statement which might be included in a note to the Soviet Union. The draft included a passage to the effect that unless traffic to Berlin were restored with adequate assurances, and "if the conditions for a discussion of the dispute under Article 33 of the Charter are not thereby fulfilled, the United States will, as the next obligatory step, submit the matter to the impartial judgment of the United Nations," reserving the right to take any measures necessary to safeguard its position in Berlin.[iv]

The spring and early summer were rife with discussions between the Americans, the French and the British, and by July it was clear that the three governments were agreed that the first step was an approach to the top echelon in Moscow-to Stalin himself or at least to Molotov. The United States had no expectation that negotiations in Moscow would be productive but two factors induced agreement to that course of action. One was the need to meet the French and British insistence on that procedure. The other factor seems to have been to prepare for ultimate resort to the United Nations. Much of the tripartite discussion at first was concerned with the drafting of a note to the Soviets. Immediately after President Truman's decision our London Embassy was informed that we would keep world opinion alerted and that eventually we might resort to the United Nations. On June 30, 1948, Ambassador Lewis Douglas, a consistent advocate of resort to the United Nations, reported from London that Prime Minister Atlee and Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin doubted the desirability of mentioning to the Soviets the possibility of a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers or of resort to the United Nations at that stage. The French also wanted to omit, in any note to Moscow, all mention of the possibility of such resort. The State Department insisted that the omission would make the note sound like an ultimatum. They said that Congressional and public opinion in the United States would not understand a failure to make any reference to the possibility of utilizing the machinery of the highest international body if the deadlock between the four occupying Powers continued, (If this was true in 1948, why is it not true today?) The Department fell back on the position that the three governments' notes need not be "identical."

The Department had given a good deal of thought to the possibility of taking the case to the International Court of Justice but noted that, unlike a domestic court in comparable circumstances, the World Court could not enjoin the Soviet Union. Yet it might prove desirable to get the General Assembly to ask the Court for an advisory opinion. The "appropriate organ" of the United Nations might recommend that the blockade be lifted while the question of the right of access was being adjudicated. The Department further pointed out that any U.N. member or the Secretary- General could bring the Berlin case to the Security Council as a threat to the peace; Secretary-General Lie had offered to help but was told it was not necessary at that time.

On July 6 the three Powers sent their notes demanding that the blockade be lifted. Senator Vandenberg recorded in his diary that "on my own Corona one midnight" he drafted stiffer language in the United States note. The Soviets rejected the notes on July 14. On July 30, Ambassador Bedell Smith and his British and French colleagues in Moscow requested an appointment with Stalin; after some stalling they were given an interview with Stalin and Molotov on August 2. In this and in ensuing talks in the Soviet capital, the issue of the currency circulating in Berlin was of prime importance. Briefly, the question was whether the Soviet mark should be allowed to circulate as the sole currency in all Berlin which would mean the withdrawal of the more valuable Western "B" mark and whether the circulation would be under quadripartite control. Stalin seemed to be in a friendly and accommodating frame of mind. He was, of course, not unaware that the West's counterblockade was tightening and that 60 U.S. 6-29 Superfortresses had arrived in England by July 17.

When the discussions moved to details in talks with Molotov, progress slowed to a halt. A further meeting with Stalin was arranged on August 23 and certain oral assurances were given by him. Without making it a condition, Stalin hammered away at the London agreements of June first about the formation of a West German government and indicated that the future status of Berlin depended on Four-Power agreement on German unity. Apparent understandings were reached in the so-called Directive of August 30 which left to the military commanders in Berlin detailed arrangements on the currency issue. This ambiguous paper disturbed General Clay in Berlin and the State Department in Washington. Marshal Sokolovsky soon revealed in the Berlin talks that Stalin's fair words were meaningless.

On September 2, as Marshal Sokolovsky in Berlin began sabotaging the August 30 Directive, Legal Adviser Ernest Gross sent a memorandum to "Chip" Bohlen, then Counselor of the Department, saying that we had weakened our position by agreeing to that Directive and "sooner or later we must face the possibility of international action, whether in the International Court or the United Nations." Douglas had already been instructed to urge resort to the Security Council and he kept pushing the British and French in the hope that tripartite action could be taken quickly when the break occurred. French Ambassador Massigli in London said the French government would not answer until told what course of action was contemplated after resort to the United Nations. Paris always suspected the United States of bellicosity. But Douglas asked Massigli what we would do if we did not go to the United Nations. This was a question often asked and never really answered, and Ambassador Bedell Smith in Moscow remarked to the Department that he had never been told what strategic plan was contemplated, aside from a reference to the United Nations. Actually no other plan had been adopted, though the Policy Planning Staff was studying the issue. George Kennan records his sense of frustration in his attempts to have the Policy Planning Staff fulfill its proper functions, and in general to have the Department deal wisely with the whole German problem.

On August 23, in a teletype conference with London in which the State Department assembled a "first team"-Lovett, Bohlen, Rusk, Reber, Bancroft, Beam, Gerhardt and Byroade-it had been argued that reference to the United Nations was an obligation under Article 37 of the Charter but did not preclude any other action which might be agreed upon. For French ears it was said that a reference to the Security Council would help to prevent armed action during consideration in the United Nations. It would be possible to take the case to the General Assembly after the Soviet veto in the Security Council. The French did not seem to realize, it was said, that the United Nations was about the only machinery by which we could avoid for a time the possibility of "a brutal choice between war or submission." Our "prestige and integrity of action" would be preserved by a U.N. discussion even while the blockade continued. The French had offered no alternative.

It was good news from Ambassador Caffery in Paris on September 7 that Robert Schuman had formed his new government and had agreed to tell the staff at the Quai d'Orsay that the Berlin case should be taken to the United Nations if there were a breakdown in the talks. The whole scene was shifting to Paris as the delegates began arriving there for the opening of the third regular session of the General Assembly.

In the week or so before Secretary of State Marshall arrived in Paris on September 19, the attempt to reach tripartite agreement continued full steam. On September 11, Bohlen suggested to Sir Oliver Franks, the British Ambassador in Washington, that the Soviets might be planning to go into the U.N. General Assembly with a propaganda campaign of their own. Ambassador Bedell Smith thought the Soviets would be in a strong position in the General Assembly; even if the West secured a two-thirds vote, abstentions by Far Eastern and Near Eastern blocs and the Scandinavian states would prevent any resolution from appearing as a worldwide condemnation of the Soviet threat to the peace. Marshall told the Cabinet in Washington that Bevin had sent him a personal message hoping they would not have to break negotiations with the Russians and would not need to appeal to the United Nations. The Cabinet talked about the war-weariness of the British who hesitated to make crucial decisions because, as Forrestal records, "they were in the front line."

There was one further exchange of notes with the Soviets before the three Western Powers at last, on September 26, 1948, informed Moscow that the "illegal and coercive blockade" created a threat to peace and security which the Powers were obliged to refer to the Security Council. In identical letters to the Secretary-General on September 29 they asked for an early meeting of the Council.

The General Assembly opened its session on September 21, 1948, in the Palais de Chaillot where the French were still completing some hasty remodeling. The Security Council, whose sessions were soon to overlap and be interlarded with those of the Assembly's committees, met in the large auditorium which was also used for the plenary sessions of the Assembly. When we met as the Council, we sat on the stage as if in a play. During the debate on the Berlin blockade we had what the theatre world would call "a good house."

I was one of the five United States delegates to the Assembly, and as the Deputy Representative of the United States to the United Nations, was one of the four persons who under the United Nations Participation Act of 1945 were authorized by Congress to represent the United States in the Security Council; the other three were President Truman, Secretary Marshall and Ambassador Warren Austin. Secretary of State Marshall told me that I was to handle the Berlin case in the Security Council.

Although the proceedings in the Security Council were quite separate from the concurrent proceedings in the General Assembly, members of the United States delegation to the Assembly were bound to be questioned by other delegates about the Berlin crisis. The United States delegation therefore had to be briefed. On September 25, Dean Rusk, then the director of the Office of United Nations Affairs, explained the situation in detail, emphasizing that the Western Powers were resorting to the United Nations, not just to make a record but in the hope of getting a settlement. He stressed the point that a heavy responsibility was lodged on the nonpermanent members of the Security Council.

Secretary Marshall stayed at the Embassy residence which is located about halfway between the Place d'Iéna, where the delegation had its offices in a commandeered hotel, and the Palais de Chaillot, not more than a five-minute walk. He met with the delegation every morning and often summoned individual members to conferences at the residence.

On the day following Rusk's presentation, Ambassador Douglas, Rusk and I met with Secretary Marshall at the residence. Douglas said that he had noted among members of the United States delegation some uncertainty as to whether our appeal to the Security Council was merely designed to give us moral backing for any further steps we might find it necessary to take, including the use of force, or whether we were seeking help in getting a solution. I strongly agreed, noting that the same question arose in the minds of other delegations and that to be convincing we must have in mind that we would be prepared to carry out a solution proposed by the United Nations even if it were not just what we would desire. The Secretary said any statement I made on that subject must be carefully considered but that now we had decided to refer the matter to the United Nations we must be prepared to carry through. As the three of us discussed it together later, we felt the Secretary had given us the necessary indication of our general policy, and we followed it thereafter as time and again our motives were questioned or challenged. The day following this conversation, Secretary Marshall himself explained the developments to the delegation. On October 14, Bohlen and I went to the residence and outlined to Secretary Marshall our plan of action in the Security Council debates. He approved it and told me that he wanted me to understand that I was not operating on leading strings and that he would back me up on any action I took provided it was not appeasement.

On another occasion he told a number of us that he would shortly have to return to the United States for an operation and that he thought under the circumstances he would resign as Secretary of State. We remonstrated vehemently, emphasizing the enormous prestige he had and what an irreplaceable asset to the United States he was. The next day I had an appointment to see him alone. He expressed annoyance at what he considered the flattery of the remarks made to him the day before; he didn't like that kind of thing. I told him that I had no reason to curry his favor; by giving me the Berlin assignment he had done me the greatest favor he could grant and the only other thing I could ask of him was to accept my resignation after the end of the session since I had overstayed my leave of absence from Columbia University. Later he told me that when he returned to the United States, since Ambassador Austin was ill he was going to appoint me acting head of the delegation. I told him he could not do that. It was the deliberate policy of President Truman to appoint a leading Republican as chief representative to the United Nations to assure the bipartisan nature of our U.N. policy. It was essential that he designate John Foster Dulles who was a member of the delegation and presumptive heir to the State Department if Dewey won the election that fall. Secretary Marshall appointed Dulles.

On October 4, Secretary Marshall met with Bevin, They agreed that there should not be any meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers while the blockade was on but that we should state in the Security Council that we would be willing to have such a meeting as soon as the blockade was lifted. Schuman also agreed. Bohlen telegraphed Ambassador Robert Murphy in Berlin that there was some concern in Paris lest anything be done in Berlin to aggravate the situation while the case was before the Security Council. Only in a great emergency should anything be done without first notifying the Secretary in Paris.

George Kennan, then Director of the Policy Planning Staff, in a memorandum of October 5 to Bohlen advised that if the United Nations asked the Soviet Union to discuss a solution of the whole problem, and if it could provide that restrictions on access to Berlin would be terminated during the discussions, the United States should accept such a proposal. He pointed out that since we could not discuss under duress, we needed some mediatory agency, which could only be the United Nations. He concluded that if the Security Council did not succeed in inducing the Soviets to lift the blockade, our last chance was to take the case to the General Assembly. Since this seemed to him a likely outcome, he had drafted a statement which Secretary Marshall might read in the General Assembly. George Kennan's enthusiasm for the United Nations has been frequently under the strictest control but this was not the only time when he recognized one of its values.

Meanwhile the ground was being prepared as it always must be in a case before the United Nations. Answers to possible arguments of opponents must be drafted in advance. Friends must be informed, persuaded or encouraged. During sessions of the General Assembly, a work week of 80 to 90 hours was normal. By the evening of October first, all members of the Security Council, except the Soviet Union and the Ukraine, had been visited.

The proposal to put the Berlin question on the Security Council agenda was debated on October 4; Vishinsky argued that the Council was incompetent to consider the matter, but the item was inscribed on the agenda on October 5 by a vote of 9 to 2, the Ukrainian representative naturally joining the Soviet Union in the minority. Since this was a procedural question, it could not be vetoed. The case for the three Western Powers was presented to the Security Council in statements made on October 6. The activity then continued behind the scenes until October 15 when Bramuglia, the Argentine President of the Council, put a series of questions to the Four Powers. We three replied on October 19, and on the basis of the data thus furnished the six so-called Neutral Powers presented a draft resolution on the 22nd. Their resolution called for the immediate raising of all restrictions on traffic to Berlin, resumption of talks of the four military governors on the currency problem and a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to discuss the whole question of Germany.

We had received from the Canadian delegation an advance copy of the draft prepared by the Six and reported its substance to the State Department in a teletype conference on October 20. We did not think the draft was perfect but the Six had tried to meet our essential requirements and the British and French were ready to accept it. Bohlen reported that on the preceding evening in Montmartre cabarets, "a notoriously bullish environment, the betting was 8 to 1 against Soviet acceptance." The Department authorized us to accept. October 25 marked the climax of the debate, with the three Western Powers accepting the draft resolution in detailed statements which were followed by Vishinsky's veto.

The Security Council was stymied for the moment, but the Berlin item remained on its agenda and we were determined to keep it there. I summed up the situation in a memorandum to Secretary Marshall on October 26. Our consultative group in Paris, I wrote, had considered alternative courses of conduct. We now felt that the earlier idea of turning to the U.N. General Assembly was not desirable, since even though we could count on an overwhelming favorable vote, that would not influence the Soviets, or lift the blockade, or strengthen the United Nations. We also recommended against the immediate introduction of the Western "B" mark as the sole currency in the Western sectors of Berlin. We agreed with General Clay that it would be futile to present road, rail and barge traffic at the barriers to see if the Russians would now let them through. Bohlen added that to have a train turned back at the checkpoint would be humiliating. Our fourth and only affirmative recommendation was for adopting some form of the plan for setting up a neutral U.N. commission of experts to study the currency problem in Berlin and to make recommendations.

Back in September, Secretary Forrestal had made a comparable suggestion which the State Department telegraphed to Bohlen. Forrestal suggested a committee which might be composed of three impartial experts chosen from the central banks of Holland, Sweden and Switzerland. He thought such a proposal would show that we in good faith wanted a settlement. But Forrestal did not have in mind, as we did, a further use of the U.N. mechanism. At the end of October, Murphy informed Under Secretary of State Lovett that General Clay would not comment on this plan, but Murphy and the Office of Military Government for Germany thought it a sound idea although they doubted whether the Soviets would agree. Bohlen suggested that the President of the Security Council should ask Secretary-General Lie to arrange with the Four Powers to allow neutral financial experts to go to Berlin to study the currency question on the spot. It was this plan of Bohlen's which we recommended to Secretary Marshall although, contrary to Bohlen's idea, we suggested that the United States might make an advance commitment to accept whatever recommendation was made by the neutral experts. We thought such a gesture would have the advantage of keeping the good will of the Six Neutrals and demonstrating our reasonableness and desire for a settlement. Of course we would need to consult the British and French. Ambassadors Bedell Smith in Moscow and Douglas in London concurred in our recommendation.

On October 27, a joint statement was issued by the three foreign ministers of the Western Powers in which they reiterated that they accepted the Resolution of the Six which Vishinsky had vetoed and that they were ready "to carry it out loyally." They stood by "their expressed willingness to be guided by the principles embodied" in the Resolution. They added: "The question is still on the agenda of the Security Council. The three Governments are ready to continue to fulfill their obligations and to discharge their responsibilities as members of that body, which is still in a position to consider any development in the situation."

It is striking how often one person after another stressed the point that we must convince others that we really wanted a settlement. The suspicion of our motives did not seem to slacken. I had a rather startling example of this when I attended the annual reception given by the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly. The President was the acerb Herbert Evatt of Australia who was a frequent source of annoyance and embarrassment, especially to Bevin in view of the Commonwealth connection. At the reception there came a moment when I was standing next to Evatt and no others were close at hand. He turned to me and snarled: "So you want to start another war, do you? Well, we're not going to let you do it!" I told him he was quite mistaken but I did not bother to inquire how, if we had intended to start a war, he proposed to stop us. Perhaps he thought he could do this through the ill-advised letter addressed to the heads of the four governments, in which on November 13 he and Trygve Lie urged the resumption of peaceful negotiations.

Trygve Lie had been following the Berlin question intently and has described his activities in his own memoirs.[v] His plan was substantially the one which, entirely independently, we had recommended to Secretary Marshall, namely that an outside neutral source, i.e. the United Nations, should work out the solution of the currency problem and submit it to both sides.

On November 22, Secretary Marshall was in Washington and attended a Cabinet lunch with the President. Forrestal recorded:

Marshall reported on our activities at U.N., from which it would appear that our situation vis-à-vis Berlin, and the Russian situation in general, is rapidly deteriorating. Evatt, who is President of the General Assembly, is an active source of both irritation and uncertainty. The result of his activities and, to a lesser extent, Bramuglia's . . . who is chairman of the Security Council, has been greatly to undermine the American position among the neutral nations. He has succeeded in giving the impression that, after all, the Russian demands are not so extreme and unmeetable.

Evatt was more influential than Bramuglia, but the General Assembly recessed on December 16 and the Security Council became preoccupied with the Indonesian question and renewed fighting in Palestine. The U.N. committee of experts continued its work in Geneva, finally reporting to the Security Council at Lake Success on February 11, 1949. They submitted a mass of material but had to say they were unable to recommend a plan acceptable to all Four Powers.

The Security Council never considered their report because it was overtaken by new events. Those events included the talks which I had in New York with Jacob Malik, the Soviet Permanent Representative to the United Nations- another use of that convenient international diplomatic mechanism. The story of those conversations (they were not "negotiations") is summarized by Dean Acheson,[vi] who succeeded Marshall as Secretary of State on January 21, 1949. The finale of that chapter in the postwar history of Berlin came on May 4, 1949, when in the United States Mission to the United Nations, Malik and I and the Permanent Representatives of England and France signed an agreement to lift the blockade and to hold a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Nevertheless there is an additional fragment to be added to the story. In 1951 the three Western Powers asked the General Assembly to appoint an international commission to determine whether conditions would permit free elections as a step toward the reunification of Germany. The General Assembly on December 20 adopted a. resolution to that effect by 48 votes to 6 with 8 abstentions. The Commission was composed of representatives of Brazil, Iceland, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Poland. Poland refused to serve and Soviet noncoöperation blocked the task of the Commission-just as in 1948 it had prevented the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea from carrying out its mandate to conduct free elections there.

III

The United States by its advance commitment, and by its very submission of the Berlin dispute to the United Nations in 1948, had taken a risk that it would have to submit to an unsatisfactory solution. It is true that we had reliable and influential friends in the United Nations, but even our British and French allies might have pushed us into an uncomfortable corner.

The Berlin dispute involved vital interests of the United States but there was no acceptable alternative to the United Nations. Advance submission to a U.N. decision does not mean that one relaxes into fatalistic inaction; one works literally day and night to inform and persuade. When we negotiated with our co-victors the Peace Treaty for Italy, agreement was reached in 1947 on a provision which bound the Powers in advance to accept any decision of the United Nations General Assembly on the future of the Italian colonies in Africa. The debates in the Assembly were long and arduous but the results were accepted by all concerned. The United States never did have a "mechanical majority" in the United Nations, but it often made proposals with which the requisite number of delegates or governments agreed. In the greatly enlarged United Nations of today the task of persuasion is much more difficult but it is not impossible-if we have a sound position. We would have been on firm ground five or ten years ago if instead of leading the fight against Peking we had announced that we would agree to any resolution adopted by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly concerning the seating of Peking's representatives in the Security Council and General Assembly, subject only to the condition that the fourteen millions of people on Taiwan were not exposed to massacre. It may well be true that the light we seek at the end of the bloody Vietnam tunnel could be turned on at the United Nations.

Apparently the "Nixon Doctrine" rests on the proposition that the role of the United States in world affairs is not that of the world's policeman. It would be equally true to say that we have no mandate to decide by ourselves how all the problems of the world are to be solved. The view of the majority of nations at times may be clearer than the view of one major nation. As George Kennan wrote in a letter printed in The New York Times on September 25, 1966, our nation "owes it to itself to show respect for the feelings of the world community and to make concessions to them even when it does not fully agree with them. Its long-term interests are not likely to be damaged by doing so." Power, to be sure, involves responsibility. The question is, responsibility for what and to whom? The responsibility of the world's most powerful nation may attach to an ever-changing series of international situations but it is always a responsibility to a constituency larger than its own people.

[i] Drew Middleton, The New York Times, February 7, 1971.

[ii] W. Phillips Davison, "The Berlin Blockade-A Study in Cold War Politics." Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958; and Herbert Feis, "From Trust to Terror-The Onset of the Cold War, 1945-1950." New York: Norton, 1970.

[iii] Frank Howley, "Berlin Command." New York: Putnam, 1950, p. 235-236.

[iv] Article 33 of the Charter, which is often invoked in this period, provides: "The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice."

[v] Trygve Lie, "In the Cause of Peace." New York: Macmillan, 1954. Chapter XII.

[vi] Dean Acheson, "Present at the Creation." New York: Norton, 1969, p. 269-274.

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