Yost, Charles W.
October 1966
Foreign Affairs;Oct66, Vol. 45 Issue 1, p19
The article focuses on the health of the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly, and attempts to determine what confidence or hope can realistically be placed in each of them to deal with the Vietnamese conflict. The U.S. collaborated with the Soviet Union in writing into the Charter severe restrictions on the powers of the Security Council. In 1945 the Security Council was conceived as the all-powerful peacekeeping instrument of Five Great Powers acting together but capable only of procedural action and ineffectual debate if one of the Five dissented. At the present moment, however, the United Nations is seriously weakened by the consequences of the Article 19 crisis. The fact is that the United Nations is itself an anomaly, because it is an international organization with theoretically far-reaching authority superimposed on radically unequal but equally sovereign states. Hence, its real power and effectiveness fluctuate wildly depending on the climate of international relations and its own internal temperature. Issues involving great-power confrontation are either withheld from the Council by common consent or brought in primarily for psychological or preemptive purposes without the expectation of substantial United Nations action, as in the case of Cuba or Vietnam.


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