The United Nations and Power Politics

The United Nations and Power Politics

The United Nations and Power Politics

The United Nations and Power Politics

Excerpt

This is a book by a layman for laymen. Its purpose is to help the reader to understand world affairs. With apologies where due, I have assumed that the reader knows no more about public affairs in general and the United Nations in particular than busy people normally pick up from their newspapers and radio.

At Lake Success and Flushing Meadow world affairs are conducted under a spot-light. In the debates the policies of each government are expounded and defended by its own spokesmen and criticized by others; in resolutions and amendments, these same policies are crystallized in definite programmes; and in the votes that the delegates cast, the hard facts emerge stripped of diplomatic phrases. Speeches, resolutions and votes are recorded in black and white and available for the press, the radio, the historian and, indeed, for any and all of us.

The machinery of the United Nations thus enables us to peep through the jealously-guarded doors of Foreign Offices and State Departments. It makes democratic control of foreign affairs possible to an extent hitherto unknown. But we have to pay a price and avoid a temptation. We have to take the trouble to familiarize ourselves with the machinery of the UN and to follow what goes on there. And we must put aside the temptation to turn our critical eye on other governments rather than our own. It is, of course, comforting to blame our troubles on others; and it is certainly easy to find mistakes and misdeeds of foreign powers, indeed our press and statesmen do little else in explaining world events to us. But it is also futile. We cannot change the policies of any government save our own, and our condemnations of the others are as effective as growling at the moon.

Since a grasp of the machinery of the UN is necessary in order to follow the world events spot-lighted by it, I have tried to make that machinery clear. My general method of presentation is to trace specific world problems on their course through the UN. I hope that this method of studying the machinery will . . .

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