Stanley Hoffmann's UN
From the Shelf
In two recently-published articles, Professor Stanley Hogmann has given us his own re-evaluation of the UN after the events of these last hard months. "What Keeps the UN Alive," in the October 30 issue of the New Leader, explored the background of the present unsettled condition of the world body; "The UN and the Use of Force," in the New Republic for January 8, discusses the significance of military action by so unstable an organization. Taken together, these articles are an important attempt to define the limitations of the UN, and to establish what should be the "proper limits" of UN action.
Hoffmann would probably deny that the New Leader piece really constitutes a re-evaluation, since his point is that "unsettledness" is all the normalcy the UN can expect; "the world for which the Charter was written never came into being." The Cold War "world" changes the UN's raison d'etre to the necessity of avoiding nuclear war, and paradoxically, of providing one arena from which the Cold War is at least nominally barred.
From this premise, Hoffmann argues that the power politics of the Great Powers, and the would-be-power politics of the Diminutive Powers, limit the UN severely. It has no effective independent role save the exceedingly modest one of a "political Red Cross."
Hoffmann is unperturbed by the results of the UN's decline: the abandonment of the concept of collective security, and the member-nations' refusal to support it beyond the point where their interests diverge the least bit from those of the world organization. What did you expect? he asks. Nor is he astonished that the UN's newer members have turned out to be opportunists and over-blown speechmakers.
Of what remained of the UN idea, Hoffmann says in the New Republic article, "Hammarskjold tried to make...an impartial force whose mission it was to keep new conflicts outside the sphere of great power disputes, and to protcet in particular the weak against the strong" (his italics). Yet Hoffmann fears that the new nations have sought to fashion of the UN "an instrument of anti-colonialism pure and simple."
This is true enough in the case of the Indian invasion of Goa, and one can hardly question Hoffmann's sentiment.
India's action violates the Charter and has been justified by its perpetrators only in terms of anti-colonialism. The UN's failure to censure it (where a real UN would seriously have considered marching into the enclave and throwing the Indians out) clearly degrades the UN's claim to impartiality.
But Hoffmann goes on to establish a fallacious parallel between the Goan invasion and the UN's crushing of Tshombe's secessionist revolt.
The UN Katanga action may be justified only superficially by anti-colonialism. "The use of force for the apprehension of foreign military personnel and advisers in Katanga," which Hoffmann condemns, was probably necessary to quash Tshombe. That, in turn, was a precondition to the institution of a strong Central Government, which is the dream of anyone anxious to avoid a polarization of Cold War forces in the Congo: anyone, in short, who supported what Hoffmann called Hammarskjold's conception of the UN. Hoffmann's confusion of these quite different military actions is surprising. Ce qui n'est pas clair n'est pas francais.