In This Review

U.S. Foreign Policy and the United Nations System
U.S. Foreign Policy and the United Nations System
Edited by Charles William Maynes and Richard S. Williamson
W. W. Norton, 1996, 304 pp

One of the most striking paradoxes of the 1990s is that strong currents in American opinion have turned against the United Nations at precisely the moment when it is most in America's hands -- that the restrictions it imposes on U.S. freedom of action have seemed most unbearable at the moment when it most reflects American will. That the United Nations is beset by weaknesses and incapacities of various kinds is acknowledged by the authors of this volume -- a typically excellent American Assembly compendium -- but they generally urge that recognition of the need for U.N. reform or of the inherent limitations of the organization not obscure its continuing utility for American foreign policy. Contributors include Michael Doyle, with an insightful essay on lessons learned from recent peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations; Lewis Dunn, who calls for "an enforceable global taboo" on the use of weapons of mass destruction but sidesteps the more difficult issue of enforcement of nonproliferation; Frederick Cuny on refugees and displaced persons, an essay completed shortly before his death in Chechnya; and Donald Puchala, who provocatively urges inventive but unrealistic changes in the United Nations' machinery and structure.