Courtesy Reuters

The Critic Turns Actor

THE United States has changed overnight from the rôle of observer at international conferences to the rôle of leader. After sitting in the stalls for twenty-five years complaining about the play, the players, the music and the general confusion, we have suddenly been shoved up on the stage and given the opportunity to help name the play, direct the music, and pick some (though definitely not all) of the players.

Fortunately, before the war ended, we had a little practice in the new rôle. We ran the Food and Agriculture Conference at Hot Springs, the first session of the UNRRA Council at Atlantic City, the Monetary and Financial Conference at Bretton Woods, the Civil Aviation Conference at Chicago, the preparatory security conference at Dumbarton Oaks, and the United Nations Security Conference at San Francisco.

Like all ingénues, we had our troubles. At Hot Springs we opened the play before either we or the cast were ready and we surrounded the theater with military police and kept the critics out of hearing distance. At Bretton Woods, we were pretty good to the critics. We not only let them in to hear the play but let them wander around backstage where they could see the wheels and pulleys and all the professional tricks; but we didn't get all our own players together for a rehearsal before the opening night and we neither prepared for enough guests nor had adequate facilities for those we expected.

At the Chicago Air Conference, the other players got the impression that we hogged the stage, gave out our own version of what was going on, and generally messed things up until, in the closing days, with astonishing abruptness, we fired our leading man (in this case Adolph Berle) and sent both the audience and some of the players home wondering if we were ever going to become professional.

Finally, at San Francisco, we got a good theater, learned our lines pretty well, struggled through

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