Maintaining World Peace and Security


By JOSEPH C. GREW, Under Secretary of State

Delivered at a Luncheon Sponsored by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the Chicago Association of Commerceand Broadcast over the CBS Network, December 13, 1944

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 205-209.

"ARMY and Navy leaders are agreed that if any aggressor again attempts world conquest this nation will be attacked first of all. We shall be hit suddenly, by surprise, and hard. We can never again expect that other nations will take the first shock and hold off the enemy until we can arm.

"The reason is plain. We have twice shown the world that we have greater war power than any other nation on earth when given time to mobilize it. So a future aggressor's first goal must be to crush us before he attacks anyone else; and not give us what we have always needed in other emergencies—time.

"Such a blow has become possible. We are no longer out of reach. Today's airplanes cross oceans on routine operations. Tomorrow the B-29—which can drop a big bomb load on targets 1,000 miles distant and come home—will be superseded by planes with much longer range, dropping more powerful bombs. Planes dragging gliders laden with airborne troops will be able to fly from Europe or Asia and land men to seize Pittsburgh steel mills or the Mississippi River bridges. In the foreseeable future are improved invasion craft which could land troops and supplies on our coasts. There will be robot bombs of greater accuracy, launched from planes, from carriers, from islands—perhaps even from other continents. We may be struck out of the blue by lightnings we did not know existed.

" 'Our geographical position can no longer be considered a protection,' says Secretary of War Stimson."

The foregoing quotation is from an article in the December issue of the Readers Digest by Thomas M. Johnson who has been a close student of military affairs since the last war. I think it deserves the most thoughtful attention of our people. The article is entitled "The Military Essentials for our Postwar Safety" and it contains proposals for America's preparedness in the years ahead.

I believe implicitly in the importance of military and naval preparedness. I have always believed in it, and have fully and frequently gone on record to that effect. I believe in it now more than ever. But I believe in two kinds of preparedness—preparedness for war and preparedness for the maintenance of peace. If history has taught us nothing else, it has shown us beyond peradventure that if human nature is allowed to run its normal course uncurbed, peace cannot and will not be maintained. Preparedness there must be, and curbs there must be, if world peace and security are to be ensured. Throughout history, mankind has tried to set up effective peace machinery. China tried it some five hundred years before Christ; Greece tried it; Rome tried it; William Penn proposed in effect a United States of Europe in which all states would submit their differences to a world court of arbitration and would promptly act together to crush an aggressor. Yet all failed, and finally even the creation of the League of Nations and the Kellogg-Briand Pact failed to prevent war. Why did they fail? They failed because these peace plans were superficial. They were like poultices prescribed for cancer. This time we cannot afford to fail.

Now in erecting our future peace structure, we must have in mind two fundamental considerations: first, the structure must overcome the flaws and weaknesses of the ineffective machinery of the past; second, we cannot hope to erect effective machinery unless we, as a nation, are willing to make what in the past has been considered sacrifices. I do not mean a sacrifice of sovereignty. The thought of fashioning any kind of super-state is to us wholly repugnant, and no such thought or plan has entered or can enter our counsels. But we must be prepared to pool our efforts and a part of our armed forces—if that be considered a sacrifice—not only for the common good but for the future security of our own nation and our own people. Is that too great a sacrifice to avoid the horrors of another war, waged with the terrific and as yet unimagined instruments that will certainly be used if war comes to us and to other nations again in another generation, with its certain devastation and the certain destruction once again of the flower of our manhood, probably including the blotting out of our cities and of a percentage of our civil population from which reason recoils? These awful visions sound fantastic. But they are not fantastic. With the constantly accelerating developments in science, especially military science and electric science, these are precisely the things that could and probably would occur in a world war of the future. Can any sacrifice be too great to avoid that sort of cataclysm?

We must have one further consideration in mind. With the best efforts and the best will in the world, we cannot hope to prepare a blue print for our future peace machinery that will be wholly satisfying to everybody. Human nature and international nature being what they are, the best we can do is to aim for the maximum of what is desirable within the scope of what is attainable, and be prepared to accept the nearest approach to that maximum that will permit general and eventually, we hope, universal, acceptance. We and other nations should be prepared to accept the net result of our combined endeavors only if that result holds out a fair promise to be effective in the maintenance of future world peace and security. Criticism and debate there is bound to be, for the net result cannot possibly please everybody, and criticism and debate are to be welcomed just so long as they are helpfully constructive. It is for the very purpose of inviting constructive criticism and debate that we have published the results of the preliminary talks at Dumbarton Oaks in anticipation of a United Nations conference. But if the blue print that emerges from the eventualUnited Nations conference offers a workable machine holding out a reasonable hope for the prevention of future wars, a machine that can be improved and gradually, we hope, perfected with matured experience and the wisdom of enlightened statesmanship, we cannot afford, as in 1920, once again to retire into our shell and refuse to cooperate just because what we might consider to be a perfect instrument has not been produced. We must give it a fair chance to succeed. Unless all the major powers play their full part it will be obvious that the plan cannot succeed. But I am very hopeful that the merits and the power of whatever instrument eventually emerges will commend itself to the great majority of our people whose thinking has undergone a vast transformation since 1920.

Before discussing the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, let us consider certain aspects of their development. You will recall that in the Four Nation Declaration signed at the Moscow Conference in 1943, the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the Republic of China pledged themselves to take the leadership in the creation of a permanent international organization for the maintenance of peace and security. It was understood at that time as well as at Dumbarton Oaks, that any such organization would be based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving nations, and open to membership by all such nations. The next step after Moscow was to determine how far the four signatories of that Declaration were prepared to go—what obligations they would undertake—what responsibilities they were prepared to assume. Before undertaking to bring about a wider and more general understanding as to the responsibilities which would need to be assumed by all peace-loving nations in the interests of peace they had to agree among themselves, and it should be borne in mind that these four countries, because of their size and strength, can make or break any system of general security.

On the basis of this thought, preparations for the Dumbarton Oaks meeting were undertaken by each of the four governments. Under the leadership of Secretary Hull, who unsparingly devoted his time and his energy to the direction of our own preparations for these conversations, there emerged a set of proposals which this Government placed before the other three Governments. In this preparation, full account was taken of the experiences of the past, particularly that of the inter-war period. More than that, we undertook to assemble and analyze all ideas and suggestions, both official and private, at home and abroad, which threw light on the problems involved. When this initial work was completed, the ideas which emerged were then discussed with many members of both Houses of Congress and with numerous leaders of national thought. Thus prepared, as were the representatives of the other three Governments, it was possible, as President Roosevelt has said, that "so much could have been accomplished on so difficult a subject in so short a time."

But in spite of all this preparation, very little could have been accomplished at Dumbarton Oaks had it not been for the constructive and cooperative spirit which animated the discussions. The men who met there labored patiently and hopefully in their endeavor to reach an agreement based on a genuine understanding. I wish to say, for my. part, that in the many international conferences in which I have participated during the past forty years, I have never experienced such a seriousness of purpose, nor such a sense of responsibility as that displayed at Dumbarton Oaks.

This is all by way of preamble. Now I shall get down to brass tacks and shall discuss with you the provisional blue print produced at Dumbarton Oaks, and the considerations underlying the more important provisions in the plan. Please remember that while at Dumbarton, we merely erected something to shoot at, the plan that was produced, nevertheless, represents the best results of the combined thinking of our British, Russian, and Chinese friends, as well as out own. It is a plan which combines our idealistic aims with the realities of the world in which we live today.

The Organization envisaged in the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals may be conceived as having three principal purposes, each of which is related to the single aim of maintaining peace and security. The long range purpose and objective is to assist in the creation of those conditions of stability and well-being in the international community which will be conducive to the maintenance of peace. Secondly, the Organization would facilitate peaceful means, of adjustment or settlement of disputes between nations, which, if permitted to continue, might result in a breach of the peace. Finally, if peaceful means failed, and a threat to or breach of the peace occurred, the Organization would take such forceful action as might be required to maintain or restore peace.

For the accomplishment of these purposes, different types of organs exercising different types of functions would be required. The Dumbarton Oaks Plan provides for a General Assembly, with an Economic and Social Council under its authority, a Security Council, an international court of justice and a secretariat. To those versed in the structure of the League of Nations, this enumeration may sound familiar. Undoubtedly, there are some features which the United Nations would have in common with the former League. However, there are two fundamental differences which in my opinion constitute a great advance over the League. In the first place, the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals assign to each of the principal organs of the Organization clear cut responsibilities thereby eliminating any confusion as to jurisdiction. In the second place, each organ is endowed with appropriate powers for the discharge of its functions. These observations relate especially to the proposed General Assembly and the Security Council.

The General Assembly is to be the central organ of the Organization in which all member states, large and small, would be represented on an equal footing, and would enjoy equal responsibilities. In this body, the truly democratic character of the structure would be reflected. The General Assembly would be the center for international discussion and action with respect to cooperation in political, economic, and social questions generally. It would be expected to review the state of relations among nations and make recommendations to governments for the promotion of their cooperative efforts. It would be responsible for promoting the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It would also consider and make recommendations regarding the general principles of cooperation in the maintenance of peace and security, including those governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments. In short, the General Assembly would be the arm of the Organization which would promote its long range objectives for the advancement of human freedom and progress. It would not be in any sense a legislative body or any agency of a superstate, but rather an instrumentality to facilitate agreement among states for the advancement of their common aims.

It is evident from all this that the wide scope of the subjects with which the General Assembly of the proposed Organization will be concerned indicates that its activities will cover the whole range of political, economic and social problems of interest to the international community. Moreover, the General Assembly would be able to. approach these constructive tasks without being-encumbered by responsibilities for the solution of specific conflicts or the specificimplementation of policies which can better be achieved by specialized bodies and agencies.

But constructive activity such as that entrusted to the Assembly would be greatly impaired if conditions of insecurity prevailed. Hence the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals place great emphasis on the powers and procedures to be employed for the maintenance of peace and security. These powers would be vested in the Security Council. This Council would be a small body of eleven members which would be in continuous session, alert and ready for any emergency. Of the eleven members, the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, China, and eventually France, would have permanent seats. It is clear that the economic strength and military potential of these countries place them in a position of special responsibility in any matter relating to peace and security. Realistic recognition is given this fact in according them permanent seats on the Security Council.

The other six members of the Council would be elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. And I would like to point out here that whatever voting procedure may be agreed to, decisions in the Security Council would certainly require the assent of one or more of these members.

As I have said before, one of the purposes of the Organization would be to facilitate the peaceful adjustment and settlement of disputes. This function would devolve on the Security Council, which would act in accordance with a series of procedures outlined in the Proposals. Nations directly involved in any disputes would bear the initial responsibility and obligation for adjusting or settling such disputes peacefully by means of their own choice. Such means might include direct negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or adjudication by the court of international justice. However, the Council would be empowered to investigate any dispute or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute in order to determine whether or not international peace was endangered. If the parties to a dispute failed to settle their differences by such means, they would be obligated to refer it to the Security Council. The Security Council would then determine whether the dispute was likely to endanger peace, and if so, to recommend procedures or methods of adjustment.

There is thus a dual responsibility in these proposed measures. On the one hand, the parties to the dispute must observe their obligations to find peaceful solutions, and on the other hand, the Security Council must be ever alert to determine when a dispute may constitute a threat to the peace.

But if all these procedures should fail, and the Council should find that the peace was threatened, it would be empowered to take any measures necessary for the maintenance of peace.

The provisions for enforcement action by the Security Council are sufficiently elastic for effective action, whenever such action is required. Although wide discretion is given the Council in the determination of the existence of a threat to or breach of the peace, its action must be taken in accordance with the principles of the Charter. Initially such action might consist of measures not involving the use of armed force, such as the severance of diplomatic and economic relations, and the interruption of rail, sea, air, postal, radio, and other means of communication. If necessary, however, the Council could take action by air, naval, and land forces to restore peace.

Let me here recapitulate in somewhat greater detail the several successive steps that under the Dumbarton Oaks plan are open to the Security Council for the maintenance of peace and security, because these steps are of fundamental importance in the proposed structure:

1. The Security Council can investigate any dispute or any situation which may lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute.

2. It can call upon the pastes to a dispute to seek a solution by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement, or by any other peaceful means of their own choice, or it can recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment.

Up to this point, it will be seen that the successive steps open to the Council are of a judicial nature. Only if these several steps have failed to settle the dispute in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Organization and only if the dispute is found to constitute a continuing threat to the peace is the Council empowered to proceed to further steps of a political nature.

3. If the means already described fail, and if the Security Council determine that, as a result, there exists a threat to the peace, it can decide whether it should take action.

4. If the Council decides in the affirmative, it can then determine the measures to be taken to maintain or restore peace and security.

5. The Council can take diplomatic, economic or other measures short of the use of armed force, these measures envisaging possible complete or partial interruption of communications and the severance of diplomatic and economic relations.

6. Finally, but only in the last analysis if all previous steps have been found inadequate, is the Council empowered to take such action by air, naval or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Clearly, under the proposed plan, every possible effort is to be made to settle international disputes without recourse to the use of force, but force is to be available if only thus can international peace and security be maintained or restored.

Now, for this last purpose, and under special agreements concluded in keeping with their constitutional processes, the member states of the United Nations would be obligated to supply, in case of need, specified contingents of armed forces and other facilities to be used for the maintenance of peace. These special agreements for the supply of forces would be concluded among member states and would be subject to approval by the Security Council.

It is obvious that in the use of armed forces by the Security Council, it would require the most highly qualified expert assistance for this purpose. For this reason, the Proposals provide for the creation of a Military Staff Committee which would consist of the Chiefs of Staffs of the permanent members of the Council or of their representatives and of other members of the Organization in special circumstances. This Committee would serve the Security Council not only in military enforcement measures, but also in advising the Council upon a general system for the effective regulation of armaments.

This, in brief, is the pattern proposed for the maintenance of peace. There is, however, one further aspect which I wish to emphasize. I refer to the solemn obligations which must be assumed by all members of the Organization, First, they must pledge themselves to resort to none but peaceful means in the settlement of any disputes which may arise among them. As a fundamental corollary to this obligation, they must also pledge themselves to refrain from the use of force or the threat of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the Organization. In the event of a breach of the peace, all members must obligate themselves to assist the Organization in any action taken by it to maintain or restore peace, I trust that you will agree with me that theseobligations go considerably farther than those assumed by the parties to the Kellogg Pact and by the members of the League of Nations. These obligations, together with the extensive power of the Security Council to decide upon measures to be taken in the event of a breach of the peace, therefore would mark a great step forward in our ceaseless efforts to find means of preventing war.

In discussing the role of the General Assembly, I passed lightly over the provision of the Proposals concerning the solution of economic, social and humanitarian problems. These provisions, in my opinion, merit your attention. As I have said before, the General Assembly would have responsibility for the formulation of broad policies in these fields in the form of recommendations. An Economic and Social Council, under the authority of the General Assembly, would assist that body in developing international cooperative activity in the economic and social fields. This Council would consist of eighteen member states elected by the General Assembly for a term of three years. Unlike the Security Council, no provision is made for permanent members. It may be anticipated, however, that in selecting the members of the Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly would take into consideration their ability to contribute to its work.

In considering the functions of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, I invite your attention to the extensive development of a number of specialized economic and social agencies. Some of these, such as the International Labour Office, were established at the close of the last war. Others developed during the inter-war period. However, within the past eighteen months, four new organizations have been projected as a result of the international conferences held at Hot Springs, Bretton Woods and Chicago. These newly projected bodies include the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Civil Aviation Organization. Still other organizations may be established to deal with specialized economic, social and cultural questions, as for example the proposed United Nations Organization for Educational and Cultural Reconstruction. I should add to the above list the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, popularly referred to as UNRRA, which is in a special position because of its temporary nature.

The Dumbarton Oaks Proposals contemplate that specialized agencies, such as those just described, would be brought into relationship with the general organization so that their policies and activities might be coordinated and related in the overall picture. This coordination is considered necessary to prevent overlapping and confusion. The responsibility for such coordination would be placed in the highest representative body of the world—the General Assembly; but it would fall to the Economic and Social Council, under its authority, to work out the practical problems involved in such a program.

The Economic and Social Council would be assisted by a series of expert commissions for economic problems, for social problems, and for any other group of problems which might be required in this field. An economic commission, for example, served by a highly trained staff, might develop into a sort of international economic general staff in connection with the world organization.

Let me remind you that in this area, the Organization would act through recommendations both to governments and to the specialized agencies. It seems likely, however, that recommendations made by the General Assembly or by the Economic and Social Council on the basis of informed and careful preparation by such a staff would command wide attention and respect. This would surely give a very real impetus to effective solution of difficult and complicated, but immensely important, economic and social problems. Its fundamental purpose would be to create conditions under which international disputes would be less likely to arise.

This then is the general plan of the international organization proposed at Dumbarton Oaks. But at least three more steps need to be taken for the effective establishment of the structure. The first would be to negotiate its Charter which would set forth the obligations to be assumed by member states and the basic machinery of the Organization. The second step would be to negotiate an agreement or a series of agreements for the provision by member states of armed forces and facilities for use by the Security Council. The third step would be to negotiate agreements for the regulation of armaments, looking toward a reduction of the heavy burden of armaments. Each of these instruments would be subject to approval by each of the nations involved, in accordance with its constitutional processes. Upon the completion of these negotiations there would emerge a flexible machinery of organized international relations fully capable of development and growth. No machinery made by man will in itself provide security. But if the peace-loving nations of the world are firmly resolved to establish such machinery and if they have the sustained will to use and to support it, the proposed organization would doubtless, we believe, represent a tremendous advance in our modern world.

Now before closing, I venture, purely by way of illustration, to indulge in one or two personal reminiscences which may indicate why I am so profoundly happy to have been associated with the work at Dumbarton Oaks. In 1898, I remember, as a youth, the outbreak of our war with Spain. It was the sinking of the Maine that caused the long smouldering resentment of our people to blaze into war, but bur differences with Spain were of long duration and of cumulative intensity. Did not the continuance of those differences endanger the maintenance of international peace long, long before war occurred, and would not those differences have been dealt with by such an international body as we now visualize in order to allay that threat in the interests of all?

In 1907, I watched from St. Petersburg the gathering clouds of eventual war. In 1910 and 1911, I saw from Vienna the gradual development of the irritation that resulted in the Balkan wars, and from then until 1914 I watched, from Berlin, the steadily mounting danger of the first World War. At Lausanne, in 1923, I was fortunate, by an all night conference alternately with Mr. Venizelos and General Ismet Pasha, now President of the Turkish Republic, in securing the reciprocal concessions which helped to stave off war between Turkey and Greece which were then on the very threshhold of renewed hostilities owing to a long series of mutual irritations. And then, in Tokyo during the ten years from 1932 to 1941, I watched, impotently, the development of the arrogant and aggressive militarism that had led to the invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and that soon brought about the invasion of North China in 1937 and ultimately the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

With such a background is it surprising that the following thoughts found expression in my diary in 1933:

"Our peace machinery while magnificent in theory is ineffective in practice. It is ineffective because it is superficial. It is like a poultice prescribed for cancer by the surgeon long after the cancer has been allowed to develop. Most of our international ills closely resemble the ravages of cancer. They generally begin on a small scale as a result of long

irritation on a given spot. Even the most skillful physician may not be able to sense the irritation in advance, but the moment the obvious symptoms appear, he seeks to eradicate the disease by treatment long before operation becomes necessary.

"The future peace machinery of the world must go one step further than the physician. It must sense the spots of irritation and diagnose the future potentialities of disease and attempt treatment long before the disease itself materializes.

"To put the matter in a nutshell, the peace machinery of the world must be far more radical, far more prescient, far more concerned with facts, conditions and circumstances than with theories than it is today if it is ever to succeed in abolishing war.

"Someday in the distant future we shall have, perhaps, a sort of Faculty of International Political Health who will study international relationships from every point of view, much as the family physician studies, or should study, the mental, physical, and moral condition of his individual charges. When sources of potential danger to international health are perceived, the Faculty will prescribe, long before the actual illness occurs, in order to eliminate the causes of potential friction, the sources of infection. The curative measures must be taken long, long before the disease has been given an opportunity to grow. In international affairs, once the fever of animosity has appeared, avoidance of the disease is uncertain; it may be too late. The prophylactic steps must be taken in time. Much can be done around a green table in a definite case by the sober judgment of a few far-sighted statesmen long before public opinion has had a chance to become inflamed and their own saner judgment warped by the course of events and by the heat of international animosity.

"This Faculty of International Political Health—a vision of the future (and let me label it as purely a phantasy of my own mind)—must sit constantly, conducting research as in any laboratory, precisely as the Rockefeller Foundation and other similar bodies are constantly conducting their research for the elimination of cancer today. . . . . Their findings, their warnings, their recommendations must be made in time for the prophylactic measures to be effective.

"We have come a long way since the First Hague Peace Conference of 1899; we still have a long way to go. But need we be discouraged? This movement toward international cooperation did not spring, like Athena from the brow of Zeus, full-grown from birth; it must develop gradually, profiting like any infant from its lessons and experience. It will grow to full maturity. . . . ."

I ask you, Ladies and Gentlemen, to consider whether the proposed General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Security Council, which is to sit constantly, fortified by the Court of International Justice and the Military Staff Committee, do not provide a sort of Faculty of International Political, Economic and Social Health that will be potent to arrest international disease in its incipiency and thus work toward the goal of averting for all future time the awful catastrophe of another world war.