No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations

No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations

No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations

No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations

Synopsis


No Enchanted Palace traces the origins and early development of the United Nations, one of the most influential yet perhaps least understood organizations active in the world today. Acclaimed historian Mark Mazower forces us to set aside the popular myth that the UN miraculously rose from the ashes of World War II as the guardian of a new and peaceful global order, offering instead a strikingly original interpretation of the UN's ideological roots, early history, and changing role in world affairs.


Mazower brings the founding of the UN brilliantly to life. He shows how the UN's creators envisioned a world organization that would protect the interests of empire, yet how this imperial vision was decisively reshaped by the postwar reaffirmation of national sovereignty and the unanticipated rise of India and other former colonial powers. This is a story told through the clash of personalities, such as South African statesman Jan Smuts, who saw in the UN a means to protect the old imperial and racial order; Raphael Lemkin and Joseph Schechtman, Jewish intellectuals at odds over how the UN should combat genocide and other atrocities; and Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, who helped transform the UN from an instrument of empire into a forum for ending it.


A much-needed historical reappraisal of the early development of this vital world institution, No Enchanted Palace reveals how the UN outgrew its origins and has exhibited an extraordinary flexibility that has enabled it to endure to the present day.

Excerpt

We cannot indeed claim that our work is perfect
or that we have created an unbreakable guarantee
of peace. For ours is no enchanted palace to
“spring into sight at once,” by magic touch or
hidden power. But we have, I am convinced,
forged an instrument by which, if men are serious
in wanting peace and are ready to make sacrificesr
for it, they may find means to win it.

—Remarks by Lord Halifax, British ambassador to
the United States and acting chairman of the UK
delegation, San Francisco, 26 June 1945

“A new chapter in the history of the United Nations has begun.” With these confident words, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali greeted the end of the Cold War and hailed the “extraordinary opportunity” it presented his organization. The decades-long standoff between the superpowers had marginalized it, but the collapse of the USSR offered the UN not only challenges but renewed meaning. Its peacekeeping role could now be expanded and the mandate for its soldiers made more robust. It could take an active role not only in resettling refugees from war-torn states but also in facilitating political . . .

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