SAN JOSE, CA, October 25, 2012 - Last Wednesday the world observed the anniversary of the creation of the United Nations, whose charter was signed on October 24, 1945. The anniversary this year arrived two days after President Obama and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney squared off on their foreign policy perspectives. The president ripped into Romney and had jabbed quips ready to criticize Romney’s view of the geopolitical world as stuck in the ‘80s and antiquated. Obama was referring to an obscure remark Romney had made about the former Soviet Union being one of the biggest threats that face the United States in recent times. At the expense of Romney, the president made some jokes about boyonets and aircraft carriers to drive home his point.
The two men also explained their view of how to handle the situation in Syria right now, as it seems to be a nation out of control. Both men were capable of pointing out that Iran is Syria’s best friend as a nation in the region. However, Russia, the former Soviet Union, is Syria’s best friend outside of the region. And between China and Russia hindering efforts at the UN and preventing progress by the Western nations to halt Syria’s oppression and murder of the nation’s people, Romney’s comments may not have been so funny. In fact, when an intelligent person assesses the president’s remarks, it may make them think twice about how naïve he may be.
The UN Day anniversary brings to mind how the UN began and the original vision of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. The original intent was to create an international organization that could promote and maintain peace throughout the world. The conception came to fruition after the most disastrous global war in history, and being the second global war of the twentieth century, most of humanity welcomed the ideal of such an organization in light of the failure of the previous League of Nations.
The League of Nations was born from the ashes of the Great War which was deemed responsible for wiping out a generation of Europeans at the beginning of the century. Conceived by Woodrow Wilson as the fourteenth of his Fourteen Point Peace Plan, the League of Nations was meant to be an organization that would create international harmony: “…a general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.”
The League was instituted via the Treaty of Versailles, but fundamental flaws doomed the organization from the outset. Unfortunately, the United States’ Congress never ratified the Treaty even though the Europeans accepted it. A great irony of history is that the creation of the League of Nations occurred without guidance from the man who had the vision for the organization’s existence. This was only one of the fundamental flaws. Intended to create a more secure world, and thus embody the stature of the ‘world policeman,’ without US support, especially financially, much of the effort intended to create a secure world fell upon the British and French governments.
Without US support, war weary and financially strapped Britain and France were reluctant to take a leadership role in the League. Sadly, Wilson’s vision did not meet his expectations because without the will to enforce collective action upon member nations, the League did not become recognized as a relevant or viable organization in the world community. Then, within a few years, the seeds of another global war were taking root in European soil with the rise of Mussolini and Hitler.
The concept of the United Nations was born from the ashes of World War II. FDR and Churchill believed the body was an absolute necessity if the world was to endure. The term ‘United Nations’ is first credited to FDR in referring to the allies who had joined together to defeat the Axis Powers. Peace was the goal of the Atlantic Charter declared by the allies on April 12, 1941, and an essential foundational goal of the UN: “… they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all men in all lands may live out their lives in freedom…”
The core of the United Nations was actually the five major allies: Great Britain, France, Nationalist China, the Soviet Union, and the United States. According to the charter of the UN, these nations became the five permanent members of the Security Council, the organ at the heart of the UN’s effort to maintain stability and security in the world. The concept was sound, but like the League of Nations before it, the UN was founded with inherent fundamental flaws.
The establishment of the United Nations developed without the guidance of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the chief architect, the one who had the vision for the mission of the UN. He could not help in the construction of the dream.
The UN intended to pick up where the League of Nations failed with world peace and the intent to create a more secure world. Yet without credibility or sufficient strength a ‘world policeman’ would fail again. However, this time around, the effort of a world peacekeeping organization would receive US support. But an even more insidious flaw was engendered in the foundation of the UN.
The five primary nations, who were the core of the allied effort and the member states of the Security Council, included the Soviet Union. This meant that Joseph Stalin, appeared as a “benign dictator” and was trusted by the world since the Soviets helped greatly in the defeat of Hitler. But, the people of the world did not know “Uncle Joe” Stalin the way the people of Russia knew Stalin. The people of the world knew little of Communism the way the people of Russia experienced the repressive dictatorship of Stalin.
Unfortunately, having the Soviet Union as a member of the Security Council proved to be the same as trusting a wolf to protect the hen house. But, the wolf did not initially appear to be a wolf. Stalin appeared to the world as wanting the same thing as the rest of the freedom-loving world. First and foremost, he wanted the defeat of Hitler. But before this, he had been an ally of Hitler. A revealing indication of Stalin’s true regard for other nations occurred in a secret “non-aggression” agreement that the Soviet government entered into with the Nazi government of Adolf Hitler.
The world was not aware of this secret pact between Hitler and Stalin at the time, but the pact of non-aggression only applied to the two plotting nations. Essentially it initiated a mutual agreement to invade and divide Poland between the two aggressor nations and to divide the Balkan states into respective spheres of influence between the invader nations. This agreement was not known to the rest of the world when Germany invaded Poland in September of 1939. Stalin delayed the Soviet invasion of Poland until later that month, until after Britain declared war on Germany, which historians designate as the beginning of WWII.
When Stalin finally ordered the attack upon the Polish forces, the Soviets used a clever excuse and told the world that they needed to enter Poland “to protect” their ethnic Ukranian and Belorussian neighbors. This was a lie. Even Winston Churchill fell for it, as he declared in October of 1939, that the Red Army invaded Poland to protect Russia from the “the Nazi menace.” However from this point, the USSR became publically more pro-Nazi and began using rhetoric to denounce Britain and France for creating a war to maintain the capitalistic system under the Treaty of Versailles.
This was the real Stalin, this was the Stalin that was permitted a Soviet representative on the Security Council. The five permanent member states on the Security Council were each given a single veto vote to stifle any collective action regarding or police action or international security whenever it seemed necessary. The vote to commence action needed to be unanimous. To Stalin this was too good to be true, and he could take whatever military action he wanted without worrying about retribution – and he did. Stalin turned out to be something he was not.
As is often the case when the people discover something too late, the flaw was in the foundation and from that time in history, the pattern of clever Joe Stalin has been to hinder whatever good the Security Council could do in a very hostile world. It persists even into 2012, and is not limited to 1945 or 1985. For a sitting president not to recognize this is not only unsettling; but for this to be viewed as a joking matter, one can wonder whether Barack Obama is something he is not.
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