To Create a New World? American Presidents and the United Nations

By John Allphin Moore Jr.; Jerry Pubantz | Go to book overview

highest aspirations and the very survival of our civilization." 36 No cautionary notes were sounded about the continuing challenges to a peaceful world. Even disturbing news of Soviet occupation in Eastern Europe was couched in the expressed expectation that the new United Nations held out the likely possibility of resolving any differences among the Great Powers cooperatively. Hyperbole both before and after the San Francisco conference suggested that this was, as the House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sol Bloom put it, a "turning point in the history of civilization." 37

As late as the ninth of April, Franklin Roosevelt was telling the State Department that there would be time upon his return from Warm Springs, Georgia, to make final decisions about the trusteeship of non‐ self-governing territories under the United Nations and other outstanding issues before the conference convened in two weeks. Three days later the architect of Representative Bloom's "turning point" died. Final decisions and the formal birth and development of the United Nations would have to be guided by his successor.


Truman and the UN

I have but one ambition as President of the United States, and that is to see peace in the world, and a working, efficient United Nations to keep the peace in the world. [Having accomplished that I would be] willing to...pass on happily.

President Harry Truman38

The act of creation is the combination of two intertwined but nevertheless distinct activities: conception and implementation. And, at least in politics, it appears that the German philosopher Hegel was right: the idea generally precedes the thing itself. In almost dialectical form the history of the United Nations is the story of an American idea brought to reality. Initiated by Woodrow Wilson, the idea was carried forward by

____________________
36
Thomas Franck, Nation Against Nation: What Happened to the U.N. Dream and What the U.S. Can Do About It ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 9. For a discussion of the 1945 generation's perspective on the United Nations, see Kenneth W. Thompson, Political Realism and the Crisis of World Politics ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), 68.
37
Franck, Nation, 9.
38
"Remarks to the Women's Patriotic Conference on National Defense," January 26, 1950, PPP, 1950, 129-130.

-47-

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