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cases the UN serves as an agency facilitating solution, agreement, or negotiation; in none does it make a significant autonomous input affecting either the Soviet Union or the United States.

There is one area, however, in which the experience of the United Nations has come to exert an influence of its own, and to do so asymmetrically-far more on the USSR than on the U.S. It is one which neither side planned and which the Soviet delegates would in fact be likely to deny. This is the growing frequency with which the U.S. and the Soviet Union take similar or parallel positions on particular issues, or even jointly sponsor new programs or resolutions, or intuitively tend to respond to new situations in similar fashion.

The phenomenon has been particularly striking whenever large numbers of member states have lined up on the other side of the argument. And perhaps even to a greater extent than the facts warrant, some observers-earlier, the Yugoslaves; more recently, the Chinese--profess to see all manner of collusion or at least convergence between the two global rivals. As a Yugoslav observer reported on a General Assembly session, for instance, a few years ago :

[... a series of proposals were advanced concerning ways of promoting the role of the United Nations. . . . Almost as a rule, the superpowers unanimously opposed all (such] proposals. ... The latest General Assembly session has clearly outlined the contours of a new type of constellation in the present phase of activity of the UN, with the superpowers on one side and all the

remaining world on the other.” The New China News Agency routinely reports on the "Superpowers' collusion" and the "Small and Medium-Sized Countries (which] condemn the two superpowers."

In the perception of “Third-World” nations, it is particularly in connection with economic development programs that both Russia and America-whatever the differences between them have shown rather identical reluctance to provide the kinds of quantities of assistance these nations demand. Both have sought to minimize or deny the political leverage and the economic claims of "developing" countries. The Secretary-General has remarked on "the contrast in the positions of the more developed and the less developed countries." It is often said that the global cleavage is no longer between East and West but rather between North and South: if so, then to the many have-nots the two superpowers symbolize the "have's."

This attitude is at times reciprocated, too. There is more symbolism than may be at first apparent in the anecdote which Lincoln P. Bloomfield relates. He recalls sitting in the UN. Delegates' Lounge with a senior Soviet delegate. “As the noise got louder and the crowd thicker, he suddenly looked up and burst out: 'We simply cannot do business in this place.'

One area in which common Soviet and American positions have invited comment and at times bitter criticism from other member states is arms control. In two instances in particular (the drafts of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and of the Seabed Treaty) the U.S. and the USSR faced the UN membership with a joint proposal, worked out directly between them, and then requiring considerable renegotiation, bargaining, and amendment to secure the support of other interested parties.

The Soviet Union has been especially sensitive to charges of "collusion" with the arch-imperialists. It has gone out of its way to denounce and dispell them. But one cannot escape the impression that in fact, over recent years, a modus operandi has evolved in which, despite their profound divergencies, Soviet and American UN representatives bave come to know how to deal with each other, have (over some ten years) sought to avoid exacerbating verbal bouts, have in fact at times worked out compromises behind the scenes, and have probably quite unwittingly come to share certain likes and dislikes, as well as some general perceptions of the international scene.

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8 The relative importance of informal contacts at the UN may in fact decrease over time, as (1) the détente makes for more direct contacts between the principals, and (2) other (bilateral and multilateral) Institutions and conferences proliferating outside the United Nations make communication between the superpowers easier, regardless of the UN.

7 M. Barišić, “The United Nations and the Super Powers," Review of International Affairs (Belgrade), No. 450 (January 5, 1969) ; cited in Brinkley, P. 121.

Lincoln P. Bloomfield, in Problems of Communism (Washington, D.C.), March-April 1973, p. 64.

A recent Soviet article recognizes that "some non-aligned countries have expressed the fear that an understanding between the two powers (U.S. and USSR] could be detrimental to the interests of the 'Third World." Their efforts, in effect, to monitor U.S.-Soviet talks “cannot be considered as constructive.” (Tomilin, loc. cit., p. 35.)

Some observers might go further and argue that both delegations have given evidence of a sort of acculturation or "adaptive behavior.” They might point, e.g., to an abstention from voting in the Security Council rather than have a negative vote recorded as a veto; recourse to "consensus procedure” under · which no formal vote is taken; and informal understandings not to speak on a given issue before the Security Council or the General Assembly. Such instances do illustrate the acceptance of tacit or explicit "rules of the game” by adversary participants. There is, however, no evidence that the styles of interaction at the UN have any tangible impact on Soviet or American policy-makers back home.


The current priorities of both the U.S. and the USSR are, in different ways, being contested at home; and future reversals of their policies cannot be ruled out. Nonetheless, one may assume that in broad features a continuation of present trends is likely. If so, one may hazard the guess that the United Nations is unlikely to have any major influence on the relationship of the two major powers; and that they are unlikely to rely on the UN in the development of their mutual relations.

In this fundamental regard, then, the situation remains unchanged. What has changed, in addition to the balance of power, is the diminution of “ideological” elements in Soviet conduct. It is true that the Soviet approach to the UN is still officially justified in orthodox Leninist terms as a way of "continuing the worldwide class struggle by other means." But there is a remarkable hiatus between doctrinal rationalizations and revolutionary rhetoric, on the one hand, and Soviet insistence on the plenitude of national sovereignty and on various conventions of "bourgeois" diplomacy, on the other. Especially in the past decade, traditional communist categories such as the "two-camp' view of the world, so thoroughly at odds with the one-world conception of the UN, have been further confounded and empirically contradicted-most dramatically, by the Sino-Soviet split. The assumption of a reasonably pragmatic approach is increasingly likely to provide a realistic guide to Soviet behavior in the UN. This is not to suggest that the Soviet Union is likely to acknowledge such a trend; nor that there do not remain serious preconceptions and blinders impeding a fuller understanding.

The U.S. outlook has similarly lost some of its phobic qualities, with the Kissinger diplomacy in regard to both Moscow and Peking; the termination of the Vietnam War; the recognition of Soviet-American strategic parity; the perception of mutual benefit from various joint endeavors with the USSR; and Soviet rejection of the trade bill stipulating conditions for the award of mostfavored-nation status to the USSR.

There are some elements of symmetry in the two powers' view of the United Nations. Both have sought to use, or refrain from using, the UN when it has suited their purposes. Both have adapted their conduct and policies to the changing mood and membership of the UN, but both have been frustrated by the numerical preponderance of small and underdeveloped nations. Both have viewed the United Nations as an instrument of limited utility. Authoritative texts on both sides ignore the UN as a significant agency for peace. Both have displayed mixed attitudes containing elements of self-righteousness as well as assertions of idealism. Both are dubious of the UN's ability to solve serious crises. Both have sought to keep down UN budgets, programs, and staffs. And both believe that things would be worse if there were no UN.

On the other hand, there are profound differences between Soviet and American perceptions and behavior. In style and rhetoric these are fairly self-evident. In recent years U.S. disillusionment with the UN has been more severe and the American response at times more hostile. And yet the Soviet Union goes further in its own determination to take no chances to let the UN be used against itself or its friends.

The United Nations is not prepared to assist significantly in the resolution of differences involving one or both superpowers. Its role, in this regard, is likely to be, at best, one of keeping the two apart or away from the foci of conflict, substituting its own presence. The UN can be expected to perform some constructive tasks in conflict-management—as a buffer, a scapegoat, a broker, or a receiver-assuming the principals seek a peaceful way out. If either of the superpowers does not, the UN cannot stop it.


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The enforcement of UN decisions relating to war and peace remains a divisive yet critical issue. Effective efforts for collective security require a mechanism for the enforcement of decisions, and such procedures have never been fully regularized. UN action, such as the dispatch of observers or the raising of peacekeeping forces, has been essentially ad hoc, with varying degress of success and acrimony.

Action presupposes great-power consensus on what constitutes a threat to peace and who is at fault. Soviet spokesmen candidly acknowledge that the struggle between “the forces of progress and those of recation" still "underlies our analysis of UN activities in a particular situation of conflict.” UN decisions therefore must "assist national liberation movements and promote social progress without ... taking sides with reactionary forces (as defined by the USSR]." ' In doctrine, this gap is unbridgeable. In practice, however, the Soviet Union has at times acquiesced in UN peacekeeping missions, though it has usually refused to contribute to their costs. Efforts to formulate rules for the supervision, operation, financing, and direction of UN forces have been stalled for many years."

Soviet support of the peacekeeping operation in the Middle East after the October 1973 war may or may not be an indication of a change in outlook. Soviet commentators have in fact pointed out that the prior Soviet-American détente made possible the relatively rapid Security Council action ending the Middle Eastern conflict, which (they remark) would have been far more dangerous at the height of the "cold war.”

The adoption of groundrules governing the use of peacekeeping forces is a prerequisite for increased UN effectiveness in regard to conflicts not involving the Permanent Members themselves. Conditions for UN peacekeeping may be improving. Thus, not only the Middle Eastern precedent, but also the breakdown of the “tight bipolar system” of international alliances, and the reaction to the fighting in Indochina make more likely that in future local conflicts both the U.S. and the USSR will prefer to stay out and use third parties such as the UN. It remains true that even under such conditions the superpowers frequently back opposing parties or come to view the effects of UN action (as in the Congo) in opposite ways, leading to a drastic erosion of the original consensus that makes a UN mission possible. The attitude of the People's Republic of China may, in turn, make agreement more difficult if it suspects "SovietAmerican collusion." In its entire history the UN has only rarely been able to constrain any combatant nation. It has never constrained any of the major powers. It must be recognized that it can do least where it would be needed most.

Moscow has evidently learned what may not be fully understood in this country: to turn one's back on the UN is precisely what one's worst enemies would wish. If the United States cannot "control" the UN, it cannot afford to ignore it either, in a world in which interdependence has become proverbial.

Détente may have led both American and Soviet delegates to the UN sometimes—not always-to tone down their remarks and to avoid some rought edges. This has meant some sacrifice in playing to the galleries or the public back home. Essentially this is a question of tactics. The real work at the UN is apt to be done behind the scenes. Ultimately, what is needed is not grandstanding but effectiveness. Politics is the art of the possible, and it would be a disservice to expect more of the UN that its structure allows. It would also be foolish to use it for less than it can provide.

Mr. DALLIN. I will try and show a more comprehensive picture of American and Soviet positions in the U.N. and their interaction there.


In recent years, American attitudes toward the U.N. have drifted, we have all observed, from elation to frustration. While in the early

9 Gromyko, loc. cit., p. 9; also_Prokof'ev, p. 75; E. S. Krivchikova, Vooruzhennye sily OON (Moscow, 1965) ; and Iu. Ia. Mikheev, Primenenie prinuditel'nykh mer po ustavu OON (Moscow. 1967).

10 One stumbling block is the relative role of the Secretary-General and the Security Council in the operational super vision of a peace-keeping force. See the letters of Soviet Ambassador Malik and U.S. Ambassador Bush to the Secretary-General, March 17 and 30, 1972 (Documents A/8669 and A/8676).

11 See, e.g., Tomilin, loc. cit., p. 36.

years this country had support of most member states there, from the mid 1950's on, the balance of votes became more uncertain as new states were admitted in considerable numbers. Moreover, in most international crises the U.N. proved unable to assert its will. This was true of, say, Soviet intervention in Hungary and Czechoslovakia; it was also true of American action in the Dominican Republic and in all the fighting in Indochina. In the Cuban missile crisis its role was marginal, and in the Middle East it has been unable to secure implementation of its resolutions.

On the other hand, the key accomplishments of recent years that we identify with the term "détente” have come about outside of the framework of the U.N. This is true of the shift in U.S. policy toward the People's Republic of China, arms control agreements negotiated in recent years, the various accords over Germany, and, of course, the summit meetings with the Soviet Union in the last 3 years. The declaration and statements of principles adopted in these ococasions made virtually no reference to the U.N. and there is no reason to think, I believe, that disputes between the United States and the Soviet Union which cannot be resolved bilaterally could be more successfully negotiated through or at the U.N.

One result of the changed situation at the U.N. has been the emergence of the U.S. with greater frequency as a loser and at times as a poor loser. This is likely to remain so, particularly if we choose to isolate ourselves erroneously lumping together all countries that do not agree with us, rather than seeking where possible compromise on disputed issues or taking advantage of tensions among nations outside the U.S. alliance system. It is, I believe, a form of political color blindness to perceive an identity of interests and policies among all “third world” nations or between Soviet bloc and neutralist states. The temptation to pursue a policy of benign neglect toward the United Nations is likely to weaken, rather than to strengthen, the American position, and to play into the hands of its adversaries. But the recent drift does add poignancy to the warning once voiced by the late Adlai Stevenson that “the crisis of our loyalty to the United Nations is still ahead of us."


The Soviet attitude toward the United Nations was, from the outset, rooted in a more hardheaded assessment of its potential role in the postwar world. Experience and ideology reinforced each other in inducing considerable suspicion, to begin with. There was the backlog of bitter hostility to the League of Nations, which had always been perceived as an inimical agency. Soviet membership in the League (1934– 39) scarcely increased Moscow's enthusiasm for a repeat performance: the fundamental aim of “collective security” was not served; and in 1939 the U.S.S.R. found itself expelled from the League for its attack on Finland.

Still, as a principal partner of the victorious coalition in World War II, Stalin evidently concluded that (a) the price of refusing to join the new world organization would exceed the costs and risks of membership; (6) maximally, the U.N. could serve as a useful vehicle to gain friends and influence people; (c) minimally, the Soviet Union could

make sure that there were structural guarantees (notably, the veto power in the Security Council, and the weakness of other U.N. organs) against possible U.N. action detrimental to the U.S.S.R. Since he expected the majority to be hostile to the Soviet Union, Stalin was intent on having an impotent U.N.

Soviet expectations were validated by the experience of the first postwar decade, within the United Nations as well as outside it.1


Soviet policy toward the U.N. has always tended to be a function of general Soviet foreign-policy perspectives. Thus, at the height of the "cold war,” general Soviet self-isolation also meant a virtual withdrawal from U.N. activities. In turn, when Moscow adopted a strategy of "peaceful coexistence," the U.N., too, appeared as one more promising arena for Soviet initiatives. Now it was Moscow's turn, for a time, to abandon realism for euphoria.

In broad strokes, Khrushchev's vision was a Soviet camp gaining in power and cohesion; a capitalist world rent by internal conflicts and crises; and the third world as a matter of self-interest, alining itself with the Soviet Union in an “anti-imperialist” coalition and gradually transforming itself in the Soviet-image. While in many respects this forecast proved to be woefully erroneous, the emergence of the new nation-states did seem to confirm the vision. In terms of membership, issues, style, and structure, the new nations brought about the most basic changes the United Nations has experienced. But by 1960–64 the Soviet Union, though stronger than ever, found itself in considerable difficulties, in and out of the U.N.

Khrushchev's improvised but insistent demand that the U.N. be reorganized so as to reflect the new realities--giving equal representation to the three blocs of states, Western, Communist, and neutralyielded nothing but frustration and failure. Moreover, experience showed that his underlying hope—the “neutrals” lining up with the U.S.S.R.-was, at worst a gross miscalculation and, at best, premature and only partly true. By the time Khrushchev was ousted from power, he had precipitated a major constitutional and financial crisis within the U.N. He had brought about no organizational changes other than an increasing instinct on the part of the powers not to raise issues at the U.N. that were apt to provoke a recurrence of such Soviet behavior.2


Since the mid-1960's, then, Soviet foreign policy--including the U.N.-has reverted to a less hectic mode of lesser risk taking. The "troika” proposals were quietly shelved; indeed, current Soviet writings on the U.N. totally ignore them. There has been a significant

1 For an authoritative summary dealing with the general topic of this statement, see Robert G. Wesson, "The United Nations in the World Outlook of the Soviet Union and the United States," in Alvin 2. Rubinstein and George Ginsburgs, eds., "Soviet and American Policies in the United Nations” (New York, 1971), ch. I. For an earlier and more detailed discussion, see Alexander Dallin, “The Soviet Union at the United Nations" (New York, 1962).

2 on the Khrushchev period as well as the policy of his successors, see particularly George A. Brinkley, "The Soviet Union and the United Nations : The Role of the Developing Countries," "Review of Politics”, January 1970, pp. 91–123. The Soviet treatment of the same problem is in A. Ia. Nekrasov, "SSSR i razvivaiushchiesia v. OON” (Moscow 1971). 1971).

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