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CHANGE IN UNITED STATES ATTITUDE TOWARD U.N., INTEP NATIONAL
Mr. Chairman, it will not be my purpose this morning to suggest any sweeping changes in the United Nations Charter or any of our other international institutions.
Rather, it will be my purpose to urge a sweeping change in the U.S. Government's attitude toward, and its use of, these institutions.
Never before has it been clearer that the unilateral and bilateral diplomacy that has been our tool in recent years is not adequate to cope with regional and world-wide problems. The tragic catastrophe in Southeast Asia demonstrates vividly the limits of such action, hopefully for all times. As I have said so many times, the United States cannot be the policeman of the world. The only alternative is collective action and multilateral diplomacy—the principal arena for which is the United Nations.
This, of course, is what we had intended the U.N. to perform when we joined the United Nations. It is as hard to pinpoint just where or when we began to shun involving the U.N. in our problems as it is to fix a date for our involvement in Vietnam or the time of the shift of power from the legislative to the executive branch. But it seems to me to be of the same pattern. Just as the executive branch was gradually freezing the Congress out of the foreign policymaking process, so was it equally determined not to tolerate any scrutiny of its policies and actions by the United Nations.
This is a far cry from the late 1940's and early 1950's when foreign aid legislation contained provisions ending these programs whenever the United Nations could take over and when our mutual security treaties contained a standard article: "This Treaty does not affect the responsibility of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
Some will argue that the coolness that has developed on our part toward the United Nations was a response to the growth and unmanageability of the institution, particularly the General Assembly. But that is somewhat like the chicken and egg argument. Did the General Assembly become what it has because its recommendations were being ignored or did we start ignoring it because it would not do our bidding and dared criticize our actions? I rather favor the former explanation because it opens the way to corrective action on our part through a change in our attitude toward the United Nations.
I may have become too insistent about the United States having to stop trying to remake the world in its own image but I believe this attitude was a factor leading to our present isolated stance in the United Nations.
As soon as we sensed that we were losing control over the United Nations and that member nations did not buy our view of the world and what should be done, we abandoned the U.N. as a major channel for American foreign policy and chose to take upon ourselves the responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.
What, however, would have happened if our attitude had been to try put ourselves in the shoes of the developing and nonalined countries? Could we not have avoided the polarization of the General Assembly and our subsequent isolation from the mainstream of world
opinion? Was "the tyranny of the majority” that is now so decried a product of our own making? A backward glance would seem to be in order.
The United Nations was intended to be the world's instrument for peaceful change but our nay-saying of recent times has thwarted that purpose.
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES' INABILITY TO PRODUCE CHANGE THROUGH U.N.
Long-time frustrations over the developing countries' inability to produce change through the United Nations in the areas of economic development, human rights and disarmament, no doubt played a role in producing the bloc voting now noted. When one recalls, for example, that questions relating to South Africa have been considered by the General Assembly since 1946 without an appreciable change in conditions there, one can understand the frustration of the majority that vented itself in the vote to suspend South Africa's membership. Perhaps the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties was a reaction to the developed countries' unwillingness and/or inability to devote even 1 percent of their gross national product to the development of others, and similar wealth-sharing proposals.
I personally wish to interject there that I do not regard the use of GNP as a reasonable criterion for these purposes, or for any other purpose, in my opinion, other than simple activity in many cases is of the meaningless kind.
But since it is used it is simply a very poor measure of our interest in it. But I also in saying this do not again wish to express approval of the bilateral assistance given the countries simply because I question its effectiveness. And I have for many years thought whatever should be done should be done through a multilateral organization.
The General Assembly has always served as a forum of world public opinion and an arena for moral judgments. Condemnation is a part of its functions. Indeed, the United States in the cold war days and at other times has used it in this fashion. The assumption, however, that the moral weight of world opinon expressed through the General Assembly, would have a moderating effect on the deplorable events and practices has not been borne out by events. As the United Nations ages and long-term problems continue on the agenda year after year without solution, the temptation to the majority to do something drastic just for the sake of "doing" may get progressively greater. The unenforceability of General Assembly resolutions is one member's protection but another member's frustration. In sum, after 30 years of resoluting to no avail the pressures for bending the provisions of the charter and the rules of procedure have temporarily become too great.
Perhaps as a result of their inexperience, the newly independent nations have a much more relaxed or liberal view of the charter than the Western bloc. The United States especially seems to be cast in the role of a "strict constructionalist.” This was not always so, as the United States is now often and rightly being reminded. At the heighth of the Stalinist period of the cold war, frustrated by interminable Soviet vetoes in the Security Council, we took a very wide view of the charter and led to a move to shift power from the Security Council to the General Assembly through the adoption of the “Uniting for Peace Resolution" of 1950 which stated that:
If the Security Council, because of the lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility, for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security.
At that time, this resolution was questioned by some as being a disguised amendment to the United Nations Charter and every possible legal argument was advanced by the United States to support the position that the General Assembly did have the power to adopt such a far-reaching resolution. In a way, the shoe is on the other foot now, and it is not becoming of us to be holier than thou and self-righteous about the rules of procedure and the United Nations Charter generally. The Charter, as our own Constitution, should be regarded as a living charter.
Similarly, the shoe would seem to be on the other foot as far as the "automatic majority” is concerned. As Ambassador Malik was quick to point out the United States invented the automatic majority. "I was a victim of the tyranny of the majority during the cold war at the U.N.” he said recently.
UNIVERSALITY OF U.N. CONCEPT Aside from the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties, the tyranny of the majority most deplored was the suspension of South Africa, the invitation to the Palestine Liberation Front to address the General Assembly and its subsequent acceptance as an "observer” at the U.N. These issues all involve in some way the concept of the universality of the United Nations. If the “town meeting of the world" view of the United Nations has any validity, then it should be acceptable to hear from representatives of liberation movements. And indeed, they have been heard for years in various General Assembly committees—from Puerto Rico to Southwest Africa to the Portuguese colonies and elsewhere.
The suspension of South Africa, on the other hand, flies in the face of the principle of universality and the charter. In this connection, I have to note with regret the vigorous battle waged by the United States last year at the General Assembly to keep the Lon Nol government seated and deny any role to the Khmer Rouge and Prince Sihanouk. We won our case by a vote of 56 to 54. What a phyrric victory. This exemplifies what I mean by changing our attitudes and adjusting to rising forces. We should view the United Nations as the forum where all sides can be heard and direct communcations between antagonists should be feasible. Nothing tragic would have occurred if Prince Sihanouk or his representatives had been heard at the General Assembly meeting. On the other hand, perhaps some good might have come out of trying to bring the parties together. But, we did not want anyone to interfere with us in Southeast Asia.
U.S. “POOR LOSER” IMAGE Among other attitudes that I would like to see change is the image of the “poor loser” that we have acquired. We are taking ourselves too seriously at the United Nations. It seems to me that the great power role has gone to our head and we have not learned to take the brickbats and setbacks philosophically and the tail-tweaking with good humor. When opposed, we pick up our marbles and go off to play by ourselves, making the situation only worse.
STRIVING FOR CONSENSUS I am also favorably impressed by the advice of Harlan Cleveland in the recent article that we should strive for consensus in place of putting every question to a vote.
SOLVING PROBLEMS IN POLITICAL ARENA THROUGH U.N. The change in attitude is all the more important now that the U.S. Government, or at any rate the legislative branch of it, is looking. toward the United Nations to help deliver humanitarian assistance to Southeast Asia. This should be the first step in turning to the United Nations for the solution of other problems in the political arena, such as the Middle East, as I have long advocated.
The hour is most appropriate for a return to greater reliance on multilateral institutions and processes for easing the world's growing pains and bringing about peaceful change. The United States should seize the opportunity positively, constructively, and with a sensitive appreciation of other nations' needs and yearnings. After all, 200 years ago we were revolutionaries ourselves, committed to undoing the status quo.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I apologize for such a long statement but it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
The CHAIRMAN. That was a very fine statement. We thank you for it.
PANEL OF FORMER PERMANENT U.N. REPRESENTATIVES HEARD I suppose you know the panel we had before us yesterday, Ambassador Yost, Justice Goldberg, Governor Stassen, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, they were the ones who had served in the U.N. as our permanent representatives over the years.
Mr. FULBRIGHT. Yes, sir.
ACTION AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA AND ISRAEL UNCONSTITUTIONAL The CHAIRMAN. You make reference in here to the action taken against South Africa. Justice Goldberg said that was contrary to the Charter. Mr. FULBRIGHT. I agree with that, yes.
The CHAIRMAN. And he also criticized the action that UNESCO took. He said that was contrary to the UNESCO constitution, too.
But, generally there was strong support by the whole panel for the United Nations. I think they made a very fine présentation and a very fine argument along the line that you make.
I gather from oblique reference in your statement that you feel there has been a loss of regard for the U.N. by the American people over the past few years.
Mr. FULBRIGHT. Yes; I do. There have been many statements by some public officials and others of disillusionment with it and there are people who advocate our getting out of the U.N.
SLOGANS REFERRING TO U.S. MEMBERSHIP IN U.N.
The CHAIRMAN. What do they say, “get the United States out of the U.N. and the U.N. out of the United States."
Mr. FULBRIGHT. That is right.
Mr. FULBRIGHT. There are some slogans. This I think is a very shortsighted view, and this has grown from the frustrations that you have already mentioned.
When we dominated the U.N. in the early days when there were 51 members and could count on about 30 votes on nearly everything, we thought it was a better institution. This, of course, is a very childish attitude toward any institution. I think we can make it work if we give it the respect that it is entitled to.
CONSENSUS APPROACII APPLAUDED
May I say I mentioned only in passing the article by Mr. Cleveland. He is a very, very experienced man, and it appealed to me as purely a matter of conduct the way you approach the problems in the U.N. rather than putting everything to a vote, to seek a concensus, which is a very tiresome and troublesome approach but often much more rewarding. It doesn't happen to be the kind of procedure we have followed here in the Congress but it is a procedure that many countries follow-many more, I suspect, than follow our procedure.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Symington has to go to an Armed Services Committee meeting. I yield to him at this time.
U.S. RELATIONSHIP WITH OIL COUNTRIES URGED Senator SYMINGTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Fulbright, it is a great pleasure seeing you, sir, and I am sorry I do have to leave. We are marking up the arms budget presentation this morning and that is why I was late and that is why I have to leave now.
Because of my great respect for you and the fact that you have been a true prophet about so many things that occurred in the development of our foreign policy, and in the relationship that policy has to the United Nations, and because I was, along with my distinguished colleague from Illinois, a delegate to the U.N. this year, I just have one question to ask you at this point.
As you know, for sometime I have worried that the billions upon billions of dollars being poured into previously relatively poor oilproducing countries will enable them to either barter their oil for plutonium or buy it—and possibly become a nuclear power; and whatever the reasons for the United Nations in the past, would you not agree that today it is vitally important that we have a relationship with oil countries, regardless of size or gross national product?
Mr. FULBRIGHT. Yes; you are quite right. I appreciate the comments in the beginning and, of course, it is a privilege to appear here to discuss this. I was very pleased that you were at the U.N. this last year and understand how it works.