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

By John Allphin Moore Jr.; Jerry Pubantz | Go to book overview
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threat to sign a separate peace with East Germany, which would put a stranglehold on West Berlin. In Asia the conclusion of war in Korea brought no American retreat. Regular threats by Mao Zedong's communist regime in Beijing against the Republic of China on Formosa required an American guarantee to defend the islands of Quemoy and Matsu. Then, in 1960, just when it appeared that a mild thaw in Soviet‐ American relations might be occurring, U.S. spy planes (a U-2 surveillance plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers and an RB-47 lost over the Arctic) were shot down over Soviet territory, sending the cold war into a deep freeze. In all these episodes the United Nations played a minor role. Condemnatory resolutions might be passed, but that was about it. Each side used the organization for bombastic speeches about the perfidy of its opponent, and nonaligned nations decried the inability of the organization to meet their needs or temper the contest between Moscow and Washington.


Cold War Tensions and UN Institutions

The cold war perverted the structure and purposes of the United Nations. The confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union made its way directly into the structure and operations of the UN during the Eisenhower years.

Because the United Nations as a form of parliamentary diplomacy worked by votes and semilegislative procedures, it was critical for both superpowers to seek majority support for their resolutions and initiatives. This was not difficult for the United States from 1945 to 1955, when the overwhelming majority of the membership was closely associated with the Western camp. For the USSR it was important to seek the admission of new states from the third world to redress the imbalance. Most significantly, it was critical to the Soviets to seat the representatives of the People's Republic of China in place of the delegation from Chiang Kai-shek's regime, which had been run off the Chinese mainland in 1949. 56

The admission of communist China was a "hot button" issue in American politics. Mao's introduction of troops in the Korean War, coupled with the anticommunist mood of the United States, produced

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56
It must be remembered that the USSR had boycotted the Security Council for a good part of 1950 over this issue. One consequence was to let the United States obtain Council support for intervention in Korea.

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