U.N., a Bitter Disappointment
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks...neither shall they learn war anymore." These words, written by the Prophet Isaiah and then restated by his contemporary the Prophet Micah some 700 years before Christ, have been etched in stone at the United Nations Plaza.
They sum up for all time the yearning in the heart of mankind for peace. Listen to the sounds of war from Isaiah's day. The snap of the whip, the clatter of chariot wheels, the snorts of frightened horses, the crackle of fire, the crashing of buildings, the screams of women and children, the cry of the dead and dying, the moans of innocent civilians being dragged away naked and bewildered into slavery.
Above all, there was the sense of hopelessness and despair as the achievements of decades -- even centuries -- of toil and building were consumed in a moment before some madman's dream of empire. (The same madman, I might add, that later generations dignify with a suffix - "The Great.")
Do we wonder that as war grew even more terrible, more and more men of goodwill would seek ways of peace. As we scan ancient history, we discover that people would accept even a measure of tyranny if their only choice was between tyranny or anarchy.
When Rome had conquered the Mediterranean world, the people accepted Roman dictatorial rule for what they called the Pax Romana.
In the 9th Century, to gain peace and security, the European tribes submitted themselves to the Carolingian dominion of the Holy Roman Empire (which later historians assert was neither holy --nor Roman -- nor an empire).
With the rise of nation states, the senseless wars between them, and the beginning of widespread conflict over claims to newly discovered territories, the head of the Roman Catholic Church attempted to bring peace by arbitrarily dividing the world into two major spheres of influence -- one given to Spain, the other given to Portugal.
Peace remained elusive, and when revolution in France brought anarchy, there arose a 26-year-old general named Bonaparte who brought France an illusion of stability for a season. But soon he wasted the flower of French youth on his personal dream of empire and ultimately turned Europe into a charnel house.
When Napoleon was defeated, the major powers met in Vienna to map out a new Europe, which hopefully would enjoy peace. Count Metternich of Austria, who dominated the conference, was no idealist. He recognized the cupidity of the powers and the ever-present danger of war. His solution was the creation of a balance of power, somewhat like what we call Detente, under which no bloc of nations would have the strength to begin aggression against any other bloc.
Preserving the European balance required that no European power would be permitted to gain added strength in the New World of North and South America.
To insure the European balance of power, Lord Canning of England persuaded President James Monroe of the United States to issue what we know as the Monroe Doctrine, which declared North and South America off limits to European powers. The Monroe Doctrine was honored because it was backed first by British power, then until the Cuban Missile Crisis, by the power of the United States.
With balance of power politics in place in Europe and with the incredible ascendancy of British economic power and its resulting naval power the Nineteenth Century is considered a time of relative peace, which we call the Pax Brittania.
The most devastating conflict of the period was not between nations but within our own nation. I refer to the Fratricidal conflict called by historians the "Civil War" but which those in my home state of Virginia refer to as "The War of Northern Aggression."
Indeed the Nineteenth Century was one of great optimism. And pride...mankind was soaring...he was inventing, producing, discovering, and transforming. And in the orgy of self-congratulation, the intellectual and spiritual leaders of mankind were moving from their roots.
I noted that Win Lord in his address to you in 1985 quoted with approval a verse from the Bible, which states, "Remove not the ancient landmarks which your fathers have set."
But had not mankind at the beginning of the 20th Century proved itself superior to its fathers? And could not the ancient landmark of belief in man holding rights as a unique creation of God be discarded with impunity? Could we not now embrace human peace and human progress as an ineluctable part of our advanced humanity?
Our intellectual dreams were shattered by an assassin's bullet at Sarajevo.
Never in mankind's history had there been fought a war as horrible. Never had there been such weapons of destruction or such loss of life.
Never has a war spawned such a bloody aftermath. An ailing president of the United States virtually ignored the Versailles Peace Treaty while he gave such of his strength as remained to the formation of a League of Nations to insure a world safe from war. Perhaps it is one of the tragic ironies of history that the punitive provisions of Versailles paved the way for the rise of Adolf Hitler and World War II ...even as the League of Nations was dying of impotency.
Could anyone living at the year 1900 have dreamed of the horrors of Stalin's starvation of the Soviet Kulaks, the concentration camps and gas ovens of Hitler's final solution, and the dehumanizing conflict that gripped the world less than three decades after World War I?
Following the carnage of World War II, the world yearned for lasting peace. As was the case with a feeble Woodrow Wilson who looked beyond the immediate reality of the treaty of Versailles as he sought to grasp the elusive goal of peace on earth through a League of Nations, once again a terminally ill president of the United States brushed aside the immediate reality of post-war Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Manchuria to seek the long range goal of lasting peace.
Perhaps this can somehow explain Franklin Roosevelt's idealistic yet incredibly naive explanation to Winston Churchill of his concessions to Joseph Stalin:
"I think", he said of Stalin, "that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace."
Although Roosevelt's "Four Freedom's Speech" and the subsequent "Declaration of the 26 United Nations" on January l, 1942, gave the impetus for the United Nations, Roosevelt did not live to see the founding of the organization some 41 years ago. He undoubtedly would have shared the idealistic fervor of those who hailed its creation.
The United Nations was presented to the American people in glowing terms. In Dean Acheson's words, "as almost holy writ, with evangelical enthusiasm of a major advertising campaign. It seemed to me," said Acheson, "to raise popular hopes that could only lead to bitter disappointment the General Assembly appeared to be the town meeting of the world."
Brief highlights stand out along the road to the "bitter disappointment" of which Acheson spoke.
In 1950 Harry Truman activated the General Assembly to mobilize a police action against North Korea.
In 1958 President Eisenhower broke the Anglo-French effort to maintain access through the Suez Canal. When he turned the matter to the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold used the occasion to blast European imperialism; to link Israel as a pawn of imperialism; and to extol the virtues of the so-called Afro-Asian non aligned nations. It is instructive to note that his rhetoric and actions were in no way directed against the Soviet Union, which had brutally repressed freedom fighters in Hungary under cover of the Suez Crisis.
In 1960 when Belgium began to withdraw from the Congo, civil war broke out. The Belgian government waited for United Nations action. When none was forthcoming, the Belgian army moved in to restore order. Then Hammarskjold condemned the Belgians and raised a United Nations force from the non-aligned nations. Mineral rich Katanga Province had seceded from the chaos to form a separate state under Moise Tshombe.
In the melee that followed the United Nations forces turned on the European settlers and Katanga. Can any of us forget the photograph in Life Magazine showing a bullet riddled Volkswagen Beetle, a dead woman and child inside, and a dazed and blood spattered Belgian settler raising his head to implore his attackers or heaven itself to understand why the United Nations "peacekeeping" forces had just done this terrible thing to him and his family.
From this time on a new philosophy took over at the United Nations. Right was on the side of the emerging non-aligned nations. Tribal warfare, revolution, dictatorship, terrorism, torture, graft, murder among these nations were glossed over. The former Western allies and the United States became, in the words of a subsequent non-aligned leader, "the great Satan."
The most grotesque example of the emerging morality of the United Nations took place on October 1, 1975 when Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin, and then Chairman of the Organization for African Unity addressed the General Assembly.
According to one historian, when he spoke, he denounced the Zionist-U.S. conspiracy and called not merely for the expulsion of Israel from the United Nations but for its "extinction". The assembly gave him a standing ovation when he arrived, applauded him throughout, and again rose to its feet when he left. The following day the U.N. Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly gave a public dinner in Amin's honor.
Amin had murdered at least 200,000 of his fellow citizens including Anglican Archbishop Luwum. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania said, "Since Amin usurped power he has murdered more people than Smith in Rhodesia, more than Vorster in South Africa."
Yet not once would the United Nations move either to censure him or to prevent his rape of the loveliest land in Africa.
Since the early 1970s, perhaps in a desire to give philosophical legitimacy to its bizarre perspective, the U.N. has brought forth resolutions on the New International Economic Order and the Charter on the Economic Rights and Duties of States.
The new thrust is for a world devoid of ideological differences, with a built-in poor versus rich bias, with a New Information Order severely restricting press freedom; and a New International Legal Order mandating by fiat world peace as an inalienable right of humanity -- in other words, peace at any price -- a proposal that could ultimately result in a loss of all other human rights under a one world dictatorship.
This concern over human rights leaps into focus when we realize that in the realm of human rights from 1980 to 1984 the Third Committee concentrated exclusively on human rights violations in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Chile.
Until the consideration in 1986 of Afghanistan, human rights violations in communist countries had never been placed on the agenda of the General Assembly or any of its committees.
This is not altogether surprising because the non-aligned nations, comprising a majority of U.N. members vote with the U.S.S.R. an average of about 85 percent of the time in the General Assembly.
From a business standpoint the fiscal inequity and mismanagement of the United Nations may be its greatest weakness. The poorest countries contribute less than one-hundredth of one percent of the U.N. budget. Together eighty of these countries, comprising a numerical voting majority of the General Assembly, contribute less than one percent of the U.N. budget.
On the other hand the United States pays 25 percent of the United Nations assessed budget, and an even larger percentage of the costs of some agencies.
In 1983 the total United States contribution to the U.N. was $1.2 billion, $672 million for assessed and peacekeeping obligations and $530 million in voluntary programs.
Yet our share of U.N. Secretariat personnel amounts to one sixth, and among agency professional posts about 12.6 percent.
Where does the money go:
In the 1984-85 fiscal year the U.N. funded 2.2 billion pages of documents.
It employed at the Secretariat alone 52,000 civil servants, which are paid 32 percent higher than their American counterparts, will earn on the lower levels after 15 years of service pensions 80 percent higher than their American counterparts, and for those with rank of Under-Secretary or above will depart after 30 years service with a $310,000 tax free farewell bonus, plus, I understand, a generous pension.
Dean Acheson's warning has proved correct. The U.N. has led to "bitter disappointment." It has not preserved peace, and it assuredly has not served as a dispassionate forum for the benefit of all mankind.
Today, I propose to you a new organization of nations.
One that is based not on failed utopian idealism, but on realism.
One that is not based on the shifting sands of ideological expediency but on the bedrock of time honored principles. A return, if you will, to "the ancient landmarks our fathers have set."
A community of sovereign nations based on democratic institutions, representative government, respect for the rule of law, respect for individual freedom, private property, the basic rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and freedom of press. Those nations which neither use terrorism against other nations nor torture and terror against their own citizens.
I call for a new "Community of Democratic Nations" which would be open to all nations whose governments have achieved legitimacy because they embrace democratic processes.
When a nation was able to move from totalitarianism or dictatorship to true democracy for a specified period of time it would become eligible for membership in the Community of Democratic Nations.
With a new Community of Democratic Nations the artificial distinction of first world, second world, and third world status should be eliminated. There would no longer be East to West, and Non-Aligned. The international institutional dynamics flowing from the anti-colonial period would be superceded by the new reality of the emerging Twenty-First Century.
Since the member states would represent the lion's share of the world's economic power, it would be able to use that power constructively and efficiently for genuine development without Soviet obstructionism. Furthermore in matters of trade, loans and credits, economic development, and military assistance the Community of Democratic Nations could use its power to give international support to those governments which do respect democratic principles and promote constructive change.
An organization that would include such diverse nations as Sweden, Costa Rica, and Japan could scarcely be called an American propaganda effort.
I would propose that the United States reduce its funding to the United Nations by at least $250 million and use that sum for a number of years as seed money for the New Community of Democratic Nations. Over the years the present U.N. could concentrate more and more on the things it does best in the technological arena, while it continued to serve as a place of discussion between representatives of opposing camps.
But the world would have moved in its quest for lasting peace from an arena of failed idealism, the rhetoric of fantasy, and bitter disappointment to a new realism which truly reflects the global struggle of freedom against totalitarian tyranny.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.