Union Now, the U.N. and World Government
The world must be made safe for democracy. --|
Wilson, April 2, 1917.
What of the United Nations? The establishment of this successor to the
League of Nations since Union Now appeared raises several questions.
Many assume that they must choose between the U.N. and Atlantic Union, and some
devotees of the former fear the establishment of the latter must injure or
destroy it. Ever since President Roosevelt first used the term, United Nations,
I have urged the establishment of both a Union of the Free and a universal
United Nations league in which the Union would be a member. I have given
priority to the former, as more important to freedom and peace, but I have
always seen the two supplementing each other. As early as 1944 I said to the
Resolutions Committee of the Republican and Democratic national conventions:
I would readily grant that, as far as universal international organization
is concerned, the best we can hope for at this stage of human development is the
league system. So valuable do I hold such an international organization, that
from my experience at Geneva, I would recommend a league with every nation in it
rather than a more limited league with "teeth," for its "teeth"
would be illusory. But to have all the national governments meeting regularly
together would be a very real blessing indeed.
There is no sense in not getting the good there is in such a league simply
because it is not good enough -- but I see no reason, either, in putting all our
hopes for peace in so weak a basket.
The mistaken idea that the U.N. and the proposed Atlantic Union are in
conflict is unfortunately held much more widely than the true view, that they
complete and strengthen each other. The belief that they are competitive arises
partly from the fact that they are based on opposite principles though aiming at
the same general objective.
The two are so different that it is easy to conclude they can no more mix
than can water and gasoline. But though an automobile would not work if water
were mixed with the gasoline, one can use the two together in it very
effectively by keeping each to its proper function, and being careful never to
pour gasoline in the radiator or water in the fuel tank. Water would never give
the motor the power it needs to run, nor would gasoline keep it from
over-heating. Similarly, the principles of the U.N. can not provide the power
that peace requires, but they can provide a climate in which that power can
function most effectively for peace in present conditions.
The U.N. Charter Permits Atlantic Union
In so dangerous a world situation as the present one, surely only the
fanatical supporter of the U.N. would over-estimate its role in Korea, Suez and
the Congo to the point where he would want the Atlantic Pact dissolved and all
trust placed in the U.N. flag. More reasonable men must concede that the great
bulk of the power on which the U.N. must depend to protect its members from
aggression is centered in the North Atlantic community, that it will be hard and
slow enough to organize this ungoverned community's power, and that it will be
impossible to organize a more effective force in time.
The reasonable must also agree that nothing could so endanger the U.N. and
its individual members from Latin America through Africa, the Mideast, and
Southern Asia than military defeat of the Atlantic Alliance, or its economic
collapse, or its moral and political disintegration. The more the Atlantic
community can unite its power, the less it will be faced with inflation and the
more others can obtain from it the means they lack to raise their living
standards and the greater will be the protection the new, under-developed
nations will enjoy against both the military and the economic threats of
Communism. This would seem to reduce the issue to this: Is there anything in the
Charter to prevent these Atlantic peoples from transforming their alliance into
a federal government? The answer is, No. Nothing in the Charter prevents any
members from peacefully federating. There are not even the restrictions on this
that the Charter places on non-federal regional associations or alliances. It
does not so much as mention federal unions. Supporters of the U.N. have
generally hailed the steps toward union taken by the Western European nations as
helpful to it.
Unlike proposals to change the U.N. into a world government, Atlantic Union
would require no amendment of the Charter, nor involve any action by the U.N.
This proposal could not be vetoed by the Kremlin.
Formation of the Union need not affect the voting power of its members in
the U.N., except that the Union government would decide how all these votes
would be cast. The Union could follow the precedent that gave three votes and
plural representation to the Soviet Union. Since the United States, the United
Kingdom and France are specifically named in the Charter as permanent members of
the Security Council, this solution would avoid the need of making even this
change in the Charter. If the Atlantic Union should prefer to follow instead the
precedent of the American Union which has but one representative and one vote,
the Soviet Union would no doubt quickly agree to this Charter amendment.
With nothing in the Charter to prevent Atlantic Union, is there danger that
its creation would cause other members of the U.N. to feel offended or "excluded?"
The formation of a union involves no more threat to non-members than does an
alliance, and no worse "exclusion." There are a number of groupings of
nations already, and none has seriously offended those excluded.
The issue then boils finally down to this: Is an Atlantic Union incompatible
in any way with the Purposes and Principles of the Charter.1 Would it weaken them? The answer is again, No.
Atlantic Union is in harmony with them and would greatly strengthen them.
The Veto And U.N. Police Force
What of the veto, and a U.N. police force? The intrinsic importance of the
U.N. veto is much over-rated, as are also the votes in it. What really counts in
any league is not so much the way their delegates vote as what the governments
behind them do to carry out these votes. A delegate's vote is even less binding
than his signature to a treaty. Americans should remember from President
Wilson's experience that even a Chief Executive's signature does not necessarily
mean a treaty will be ratified.
Even if every Great Power agreed to abolish the veto entirely in U.N.
proceedings, this "delayed veto" power -- which every sovereign
nation, large and small, still retains (in NATO as in the U.N. ) -- would remain
to frustrate action particularly when the Security Council sought to enforce
peace. As Geneva's experience in applying sanctions to Italy indicated, it is
easier to get sanctions voted than to get them applied. There is no way to
abolish the "delayed veto" short of full federation, for the veto is
inherent in national sovereignty.
"Suppose the United States should follow the short-sighted theorists
who would have it lead in pushing abolition of the U.N. veto to a showdown."
I wrote in 1948 in the Postwar edition of this book. "Suppose all the
non-Communist nations should stand with it when the break came. What would be
the result? The United States would be morally bound to organize its
non-Communist league on a non-veto basis where the United States would have to
supply most of the men, money and material for the war with Russia that this
would hasten -- but would have no legal control over them. It might well find
itself in a small minority. Control over diplomatic and war policy would have
passed not only out of its hands but out of those of the experienced
democracies, and into the hands of the immature democracies who would form the
majority. This chaotic coalition would have to face the most centralized of
dictatorships. If the United States held to this policy, and did not resort to
the 'delayed veto,' it would simply be delivering itself, and all the free, and
all the world, to dictatorship."
Since 1948 all this has been made only the more valid by the number of new
members added to the U.N. and by other developments.
While the "delayed veto" remains, let alone the present U.N. veto,
the hopes placed in the establishment of an international police force or
disarmament must also be vain. And even if the veto difficulty could be
overcome, there would be the difficulty of actually forming from sovereign
nations a force effectively controlled by them all, yet capable of overawing and
overcoming any of their own national forces, or any combination of these. If the
international force were not capable of this, what Great Power would trust it
enough to disband its own means of defense?
True, it is easy for any one to work out on paper a "quota force"
or a "weighted representation" that is satisfactory to its author But
to get sovereign nations to accept it means getting each to accept a fixed ratio
of its own power in relation to that of every other nation's. There lies the
rub, not only for the international police question but for disarmament. To
solve it proved much too tough a job for the Geneva Disarmament Conference in
1932 -- and for all the meetings that have followed. Apart from the problems of
national pride and suspicion that vex it, it requires bafflingly intricate
calculations of the relative importance, now and in future, of land power, sea
power, air power, atomic power, rocket power, industrial power and raw material
power. The nations are differently equipped with these various elements of
power; some are in course of rapid development and others in course of decline.
It is significant that the only example of a quota or ratio in power that was
actually agreed on by sovereign nations was confined to the simplest arm to
measure and control, the navy. Even there it could not be extended to all types
of warships, and proved at Pearl Harbor to be anything but a contribution to
Grant that those who hope to make the U.N. work by equipping it with an
international force, or limiting national armaments, find some way to overcome
all these obstacles. They would still face the basic obstacles to league
coercion of sovereign states set forth in Chapter IV and section 3 of Chapter
VII of Union Now. The patchers still are with us, but patching still
Union Now And World Government
Union Now devoted to world government only one chapter -- but it was
entitled, "Public Problem No. 1." Many have jumped to the utterly
wrong conclusion that I believe, or believed, that a universal world government
could or should be formed at once. I meant that the problem as a whole was
urgent -- not that it could be solved in one stroke, or that a universal
organization should be the first step.
My reasoning was simply this: The development of machines and science is
driving the world relentlessly closer and closer together. This increasingly
requires us to solve the problem of organizing the world for freedom and peace.
It was obvious to me that current solutions in the 1930s must inevitably
plunge mankind into a worse World War. To avert this imminent danger, a sound
plan for governing our world had to be devised at once. It was in this sense
that I meant that world government was "Public Problem No. 1." I still
believe it is -- but only in this sense.
The war Union Now sought to avert did prove to be far worse than
World War I -- but happily did not throw us back into Dark Ages, as it might
have done. Instead, it resulted in accelerating the development of science,
technology and the speed of change. One must pause in awe at the astounding
vitality of man and of the civilization which freedom has developed. Despite the
devastation, production and standards of living almost everywhere are higher now
than before the war -- even in England, Japan, Italy, France, Germany and Russia
which suffered the worst destruction. And despite the millions killed, the
world's population has increased so fast -- thanks again to science and
technology -- and is rising so rapidly that it is likened to an "explosion"
and feared now by many more than war itself.
The problem of governing the world that was No. 1 in 1939 remains only more
urgently No. 1 in our dawning rocket atomic age. This is not yet evident to some
Congressmen who vote billions for the exploration of Space, while forgetting
that they cannot bring the moon within reach without developing machines that
must also bring Europe and the rest of the world far closer than they already
are. But this fact has impressed others so much that they not only rate this
problem as No. 1 but center their attention on the universalist approach to it.
Even in 1939 the prevailing logic was that since the problem was world-wide the
solution must embrace all, or nearly all, the nations from the start.
The more practical members of this school have always recognized that the
greater the number of nations organized, the lesser must be the ties that bind
them, and therefore a solution that begins with a world-wide organization must
necessarily be very rudimentary, much too weak to cope either with war or
depression. It can at best contain only the germ of a world government. The hope
is that this germ gradually will grow strong enough to do the job. That was the
hope behind the first such solution, the League of Nations. It is the hope
behind the United Nations now. And the same approach animates most of those who
would transform it into a "world government" in some one respect, as
by abolishing the veto, or giving it an "international police force,"
or control of weapons of mass destruction.
The Union Now solution has always been just the opposite. It
recognized world government only as an eventual, ultimate goal. It proposed to
solve the problem by (a) rejecting universality at the start and beginning with
only the few Atlantic democracies that could be united in a full, free federal
union, and (b) counting on this nucleus to grow in numbers by gradually
extending its federal relationship to others. Though few in numbers, these
Atlantic peoples had -- and still have -- together so great a share of the
world's moral material and military power that by federating it fully they could
-- and can -- avert current dangers of war, depression and dictatorship from the
start -- a hope that no universalist solution can give -- and gain enough time
and experience for the nucleus to grow peacefully in numbers.
Freedom's Answer to This World Problem
Union Now was, and is, proposed as freedom's answer to this world
problem. Dictatorship already in 1939 had its plans for world government; the
universalists who put peace first had theirs in the League of Nations -- but
those who put freedom first had no world plan in 1939. The Nazi plan was then
the most aggressive, but the Communist blueprint was already much more carefully
worked out, and much wider in its actual and potential appeal. Since the
destruction of its Nazi rival, the Communist plan for a world government has
grown far more formidable than Hitler's ever was. The Union Now plan
differs diametrically from both not only in seeking to make sure that the world
shall be governed by the principles of individual freedom, but in two other
important respects. Whereas dictatorship seeks to advance its plan by exploiting
hate, prejudice, the mob mind, Union Now has directed its appeal to
reason, common sense, -- to the open mind of the individual and to such emotions
as may sway him when alone with his conscience. And whereas dictatorship seeks
to build its world government by subversion, violence and war, the Union Now
program has always confined itself to the democratic methods of full free and
open discussion and agreement at every stage in the long process, from beginning
The Union Now approach to world government is so centered on freedom
and its Atlantic nucleus that believers in the universalist approach have long
criticized it as "exclusive," "dividing the world into two camps,"
and so on. It has been attacked as a universalist "world government scheme"
only by American isolationists or nationalists (few of whom could have read it)
and by Communists, here and abroad.
Within the Federal Union organization I long had to battle continually with
those who sought to change its accent from Union of the Free to world government
or the United Nations. By 19452
practically all these universalists had withdrawn either to the United Nations
Association or to the United World Federalists.
When the atomic bomb added "nuclear physics" to the jargon of
science, it ironically blew many nuclear scientists -- and a surprising number
of nuclear unionists and "practical" politicians -- into the camp of
the universal "world governmenters." In the days of the Acheson Plan
and the Baruch offers to Soviet Russia, when there was far stronger support of
the United World Federalists than now, I re-examined the universalist approach
carefully. I gave my reasons for rejecting it in the 1949 Postwar Edition of
Union Now, listing "ten fallacies in the universalist approach"
to world government which confirmed me in the view that it was untenable. Events
since then have made this so clear to the great majority that there seems no
need to make the case again here.3
- See Atlantic Union and the United
Nations by the author. This reprint, available from Freedom & Union
for $0.20, compares in parallel columns the effect of Atlantic Union on each of
the "Purposes and Principles" of the Charter.
- Since 1945 there has been no
controversy on this issue within the Federal Union association, which has
steadily and increasingly kept its accent on Atlantic Union.
- I would refer those who are still in
doubt to pages 259-262 of the Postwar Edition. A reprint of these pages is
available free from Freedom & Union.
Contents -- Chapter 9
-- Chapter 11