Founding of United Nations: San Francisco

Bill Sr  (Reports from May and June, 1945 in THE WITNESS).:

This is the first conference I have ever attended where so much goes on that one is not quite sure what are the important things to report. It is a literal fact that each day a reporter goes to the press room, jots down the press conferences posted on the bulletin board, and spend the entire day running from one to another. There are luncheons, dinners, meetings. And there is the Palace Hotel, where the reporters are staying, and the Press Club where out-of-town newsmen and radio commentators are being entertained. There one can go at any time ofr the day or night and join in a rumor or gossip huddle.

However, in spite of this whirl which makes it so hard to see the forest for the trees, after more than two weeks of it, I think thast a number of things can be said definitely. Most important of all, a Charter for a world security organization will be the final outcome of this United Nations Conference. It will be far from a perfect document and there will be many who are here as representatives of special interests who will be disappointed. There are a number of representatives of India about who, whatever the subject at a press conference, manage to raise the question of the freedom of thast country.   So, likewise, with Palestine, Indo-China, Africa, Korlea and numerous other places. The Charter will dress all these problems up in pretty language about the welfare of the people and freedom at some future time. And, as Mr. Molotov said, “We all know the time will come when the voice of an independent India will be heard.”

But the fact is that the time is not yet for the very simple reason that the British Empire will not allow it. And what can be said of India can be said of every other colony or mandated area–nations are here to protect what they had before the war. Few, I presume, had such hope that it would be otherwise and the realistic view is to be thankful for a Charter which will establish a world organization which can and will maintain the peace and, thus, give nations and peoples time to solve the many baffling and complex economic, social and welfare problems that face the world. That i am sure will be accomplished and, however imperfect, it is a new achievement for the nations of this world for which we must be everlastingly grateful.

There are other things going on here about which i am less cheerful. That is the efforts being made, both inside the Conference and by powerful forces outside, to look upon this as a Conference to organize an anti-Soviet bloc. Unity of nations for world ;peace, and particularly lunity of the ‘Big Three’, is accepted as a principle by everyone. But as soon as one gets down to a specific problem–Poland, the future of Germany, Austria, the Far East–one runs into the assumption by many that war is inevitable and, particularly, war between the two strongest powers on earth, the United States and the Soviet Union. Therefore the smart thing to do is to maneuver for a strong position in anticipation of that struggle.

There is no journalist here who does a more painstaking job in checking facts than I.F. Stone. (NOTE: I.F.Stone, known by Dad and others as “Izzy”, was an independent journalist, getting out his WEEKLY through most of W.W. II through the Reagan years. His picture was, also, on the editor’s gallery wall. Before his death, he had become a T.V. ‘talking head’ and much admired. It was good to see it happen to him, since most professional journalists admired his courage and thoroughness.) I’ve spent a considerale amount of time with him here in San Francisco He says: “We must recognize that there is no alternative between the achievement of full employment in America by peaceful means and new imperialist adventures and war. This is recognized by the progressives among the technical staffs and consultants of the American delegation, who fear a tendency to find a way out of a new post-war unemployment crisis by armed conflict instead of the peaceful, but painful, process of adjusting our economy to full employment. The contrast between full emplopyment in the U.S.S.R. and a new unemployment crisis after the war in the U.S.A. would be explosive. Many people fear the impact of so socially dangerous a contrast but, while some of us conclude from it, the necessity of a full employment progran, others may think the contrast would best be avoided by and attempt to destroy the U.S.S.R.”

It is not Stone alone who calls attention to this danger. Walter Lippman noted a tendency at the Conference to assume ‘that because Germany is prostrate, the German problem is no longer the paramount problem in the world”. And he went on to point out ‘the fact that the main preoccupation of so many here has been not Germany but the Soviet Union.”

Another correspondent, representing a conservative paper, has stated that there are only two members of the American delegation who have not been indulging in off-the-record anti-Soviet talk. These two are Dean Gildersleeve and Commander Harold Stassen, who is, in the judgement of practically everyone here, the commanding figure on the American delegation. (NOTE: Harold Stassen, post-war governor of Minnesota, turned into a perennial candidate for the presidency and, of course, was denigrated. However, in explaining his ‘quest’ he said, even at an elderly age, that he still had something to say that was worth hearing. I am not sure, however, that Dad was not exercising some hyperbole when he says that everyone thought him to be the commanding figure in the U.S. delegation.)

 

All of this has been reflected time and again in press conferences, particularly the three that Molotov has so far held. I have attended them all and have heard him applauded by the press for his wit, his championing of peoples’ movement and self-determination of all nations by the Soviet delegation. They opposed the seating of Argentina because it is a fascist power; they have given a ray of hope to Indian nationalists, which Mr. J.J. Singh, president of the India Leaglue of America told me was headlined in every paper in that country; they have insisted that the Polish question cannot be settled without the Poles; they have skupported the request of the World Trade Union Federation for admission to the Conference in an advisory capacity; they asked that there be written into the Charter paragraphs setting forth the rights of men to work and cultural development. When asked what would be their attitude if a proposal should be made to admit Franco Spain to the world organization (and there are those here working for that end), Mr. Molotov replied; “The answer is so obvious that it do3es not require comment.” In other words the Soviet Union has held the torch for the peoples’ movements of the world. This has been clearly recognized by reporters in private conversations. And yet a large majority of them have gone to their typewriters and pounded out anti-Soviet stories for their papers.

Yet, in spite of this, something more needs to be said. There are peo0ple in this world and they will, in the final analysis, largely determine whether or not, peace is to be maintained and what kind of peace it will be. It is known that thousands of telegrams have been received from the American people by the Americlan delegation protesting the seating of Argentina. The story is that Paul Henry Spaak of Belgium supported Russia on the Argentina question, not so much from conviction, but because he had his eye on the French municipal elelctions and saw the trend of things in Europe. The story is also widespread that the French delegation, likewise because of their elections, cabled DeGaulle asking that they be allowed to move for the seating here of the Warsaw government, thinking thus to strengthen themselves with the people of France.

For after all, people vote and elect governements anecause they do the people throughout the world will have a great deal to say in the days ahead about peace and its enforcement.

 

Bill Jr.

SOME BACKGROUND

How dated this report seems. It was before Churchill’s ‘iron curtain’ speech at Westminster College in Missouri; before the Marshall Plan; before President Truman beat Thomas Dewey unexpectedly in 1948. There was no Israel, or India, or numerous African states. Shoes had not been pounded on tables at the Security Council nor had a mustached and young Fidel Castro smoked good Havana cigars in a Harlem hotel or wore revolutionary garb to speak to the U.N. delegates. There was no certainty where the U.N. would be headquartered.

Actually, the Editor [Bill Sr.] had applied for, and in some sense, was a stringer for all of the other Episcopal magazines in San Francisco. He reported many of the debates and decisions as an on-going struggle between Fascism and what he called ‘democratic socialism.’ The premier of the U.S.S.R. was, due to the heroic sacrifice of so many of its citizens in Stalingrad and Leningrad and elsewhere, still the laThe whe end */ of ‘Uncle Joe.”

Having been sickened by the Palmer anti-liberty raids after WWII, Dad and others devoted to civil liberties were hopeful that civil rights and justice for all, leading to peace, could come out of the U.N. Martin Dies’ House Un-American Activities Committee had been quiescent in the war but revived under folk like J. Parnell Thomas. And Senator Joe McCarthy and his aid, Roy Cohn, were learning the intricacies of politics and the molding of opinions…in light of new communication innovations, not the least of which was T.V.

Obviously, Dad had a good time in San Francisco because he felt that he was covering a history-making event. He knew that the ‘wheels of the gods’ of history grind exceedingly small. And they did during those weeks in the City By the Bay. And, always, lurking was the shadow the Atomic Bomb which had been tested in desert exercise known by the docrinal phrase, Trinity.

Some notes home to family and Christ Church, Middletown, indicate that he enjoyed being with other professional writers and journalists without being tagged as an ecclesiaste — just a working stiff in the Press Room.

Now the Anglican Communion has had a Non-Governmental-Organization (NGO) accredited to the U.N, represented by the ex-Governor General of New Zealand, the Hon. Bp. Paul Reeves, and the organization is structuring more along peace-making and peace-keeping lines than in the past. The U.S. still owes many years of monetary support and the U.S.S.R. has divided up;into constituent democracies and trying to develop a market economy with great difficulty. And the Cuban, Fidel Castro, stands alone and greying, still speaking too long and, perhaps, still enjoying those good Havana cigars.

Will the creation and this planet know shalom with justice? The issue is always in doubt, and of course one of the key factors, as Dad always knew, was the reality of THE BOMB!