17 MARCH 1961, Page 5

U.S. and U.N.



FROM an American point of view, things seem to be looking up on East 42nd Street. Our once reluctant ambassador, Adlai Stevenson, has been performing admirably in every way. He has been in good voice; he has maintained and now and then surpassed his usual high standards of rhetorical elegance; he has been sure-footed in manoeuvre. Who was Johnny-on-the-spot when Kwame Nkrumah came into town last Monday? Mr. Stevenson, who had the President as his breakfast guest in the Waldorf Towers while lazybones Gromyko was still abed, the samovar stone-cold. What was the scene that drew all photographers at the opening of the General Assembly? Every schoolboy knows the answer—His Excellency entering the chamber with Mrs. Roosevelt on his arm.

All kinds of good and hopeful things seem to be happening. For example, Richard Lorber, a car dealer in Warren, Rhode Island, saw a television show the other day—Eyewitness to History it was called—in which there was a sequence showing Gervais P. Bahizi, permanent representative of the Brazzaville Congo. riding to work in a crowded subway. The sight offended Mr. Lorber, who decided there and then to give M. Bahizi a car—a 1961 Cadillac. 'I did it,' Mr. Lorber is quoted as saying in today's Times, 'because I thought it was a shame. This man's a guest, of the United States."Formidable,' M. Bahizi said upon being shown the automobile and given the keys. M. Lorber says he will re- place the car every six months.

President Nkrumah had a nice time with Presi- dent Kennedy in Washington as well as with Am- bassador Stevenson in New York. All this prob- ably has nothing whatever to do with the fact that he'said some things that were pleasing to us, along with some that were puzzling. Anyway, it was all pretty much to our taste. It is not too bad a week when our friend the Secretary-General loses the support of Joseph Kasavubu and wins that of Kwame Nkrumah. And while the appar- ent disintegration of the Republic of the Congo is in itself a deplorable thing, it at least relieves Mr. Hammarskjold of the burden of relating his every word to the principle of legitimacy in Leopoldville. Now the UN presence in the Congo may be justified on the sole ground of peace. Furthermore, some authorities have voiced the hope that the move away from cen- tralism agreed upon by the Congolese politicians who have just met in the Malagasy Republic may greatly reduce the dangers of civil conflict.

An immediate and probably temporary con- sequence of all this has been to lessen the num- ber and blunt the. force of the attacks on Mr. Hammarskjold. The Russians continue to boycott him, but they do not talk much about it. The situation must be enormously confusing to the leaders of the mobs whose demonstration against him turned into a riot a few weeks ago. Now the Messrs. Kasavubu and Tshombe have raised their slogans, while Antoine Gizenga maintains a decent silence and Kwame Nkrumah calls Adlai Stevenson his 'old friend.'

To be sure, the grounds for hope are not really impressive. The Soviet campaign against the Secretary-General has been a strong and well- planned one, and in Soviet terms it makes a good deal of sense. In a way, what has been surprising has been that the Soviet Union has put up with the UN as long as it has. It has never had much value for the Soviets except as a propaganda forum, and it is doubtful whether it has served them well from that point of view. The voting has seldom gone their way, and the Secretariat has been utterly valueless to them throughout its history. Their diplomatic coups have been almost entirely outside the organisation. In recent years, as the Asian-African membership has grown and as the Soviets have made some headway in penetrating Latin America, their chances of success in the General Assembly have improved. But it is difficult to conceive of any use they might ever have for a powerful Secre- tariat. So long as the Western powers play any kind of role in the UN, it will make little sense for the Soviets to work through that office.

For this country, on the other hand, the Sec- retariat, like every other piece of UN machinery, is of enormous importance. We have convinced ourselves—more deeply, perhaps, than the world realises—that any given act or enterprise is im- proved, morally and politically, if it has UN sanction and is undertaken through the Secre- tariat. At his news conference a few days ago, for example, the President was asked what he thought of putting his Peace Corps under UN auspices.. He said he thought it might be a good idea—which was saying a great deal, since the Peace Corps, as a public woiorks programme out- side the United States, is intended to demonstrate an American will to find a moral equivalent for war. As part of a large UN enterprise (or; more likely, as an American enterprise dressed up as a UN project) it would lose nearly all its original character.

To say all this is not to say that we are prim- arily interested in the UN as a device for justi- fying our ways to ourselves. The United States believes in representative institutions for their own sake, and the most case-hardened of our diplomats believe that any weakening of the UN —let alone its transformation into a Communist instrumentality—would be a disaster from any point of view. It is possible to conceive of cir- cumstances in which we would consider it neces- sary to get out (I am confident that the admission of Communist China would not be construed as a circumstance calling for our withdrawal), but if the present mood holds we would be among the last to give up what more than one of our orators has called the 'last best hope'—a phrase coined by Lincoln to describe our own union.