Why Do We Need a World Organization?
The men who forged the Charter of the United Nations had a solemn task. While the most destructive war in the world's history was still going on, and in the knowledge that any future conflict would be infinitely worse, they sought at San Francisco a solution to the age-old problem how to prevent war.
The representatives who met in San Francisco from April 25 to June 26, 1945-representatives of the 50 nations then at war with Germany or Japan or both-were by no means breaking new ground. For centuries philosophers and kings, diplomats and ordinary citizens have hunted for the key to lasting peace. In the course of time, every conceivable variety of general principle and detailed plan has been put forward. But not until 1919 was a full-fledged organization established among the nations with the purpose of keeping the peace.
The League of Nations failed of that purpose. The men who created it predicted that a recurrence of world conflict would be certain disaster for humanity. But in the years that followed, men became less conscious of the costs of war and more preoccupied with the price of peace. Statesmen and students discussed at length the economic and social measures necessary to relieve political unrest but little was done to solve the critical problems. Nations, when the pinch came, hesitated to take direct action against aggression.
In Manchuria, in Ethiopia, at Munich, and elsewhere, however, the world learned that aggression cannot be stopped by diplomatic protests, halfway economic penalties or appeasement. It will take at least as much cooperation and determination to use joint force-if necessary-to keep the peace as it has taken to win the victory.
Another chance and another try
The military developments of this war-jet propulsion, rockets, atomic bombs-show what could be expected in a future war. They make the creation of a workable system to maintain world peace look like plain common sense. , Whatever peace may cost in the sacrifice of traditional ideas and policies would seem to be not merely worth while but indispensable. As Senator Vandenberg said to the Senate in his report on the San Francisco Conference, "If World War III ever unhappily arrives, it will open laboratories of death too horrible to contemplate. . . . They must be closed all around the earth (for keeps) because neither time nor space any longer promises to shield the victims of treacherous attack."
At San Francisco the United Nations laid the foundation and erected the framework of another world peace system. In some ways it resembles the League of Nations. In other ways it is different. But it faces the same basic difficulties and over it hovers the same big question mark: Will it succeed?