Many of us have globalist feelings. We like to think of the brotherhood of man and hum that delightful tune “It’s a Small World After All.” Why can’t we tear down the borders of hostility and learn to live and work together in peace?
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
Woodrow Wilson had such a vision in 1919 when he fought to establish the League of Nations. The United States never joined the League, but most other nations did, with headquarters being established in Geneva, Switzerland.
The League of Nations was formed to give all nations an international forum in which to voice their concerns and labor together with other nations on matters of common interest. An even more important purpose of the League was to preserve the peace and give nations the sense of security they desired. But the League had no teeth. It had no army, navy, or air force; and there was nothing in place that would guarantee collective action by League states should one of its member nations be the victim of aggression by another League or non-League member. A decision to invoke economic or military sanctions required unanimous consent by the major League members.
Because of its organizational limitations and constraints, it soon proved there was no real hope that the League could give member states the security they longed for. As a result, the 1930s saw a reversion to old instincts and patterns of self-preservation as ships of state sensed the approaching winds of war and felt the tug of the deadly whirlpool. Without effective security mechanisms, the League was foredoomed to failure.
The actual death of the international organization was slow and painful to behold.
In 1932 Japan invaded Manchuria, and the League’s response, as predictable, was half-hearted and ineffectual. Nevertheless, Japan withdrew from the League in 1933 to express its displeasure over failure of the League to recognize its conquest of Manchuria. Germany, with Hitler as its newly chosen Chancellor, withdrew from the League that very same year because the international organization would not change the arms limitations imposed on Germany by the Versailles Treaty. The League was incapable of an appropriate response in either case.
In October 1935 Italy attacked Ethiopia. This was a clear instance of unprovoked and overt aggression by one League state against another, and the League Council, in rare concerted action, declared that Italy had violated the League Covenant. That action obligated League members to apply economic sanctions against Italy and consider the use of military force. By this time, however, Germany and Japan were no longer members of the League. The United States had never joined. The “community of power” that had been visualized by League founders was therefore reduced to three major states, France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union; and none of the three was willing to use force or employ any other measures that might risk war. France, for one, was loath to take any action that might push Italy, its old ally, into Germany’s willing arms. In any event, the ugly business was soon over. By May 1936 Italy had conquered Ethiopia, and in July of that year the League’s limited economic sanctions were lifted. From that time forward the League of Nations was thoroughly discredited as a peace-keeping organization.
Hitler observed all this activity with keen interest, and it confirmed his low opinion of the League and Western democracies. On March 6, 1936, German troops marched into the Rhineland in violation of the Versailles Treaty and the Locarno Pact. Two years later, in March 1938, Germany annexed Austria. In September 1938 there was the conference in Munich where the Allies sacrificed Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland. Early in 1939 the Germany swallowed-up the remainder of Czechoslovakia and began casting hungry eyes on Poland. League action was not even considered during this time since, to all intents and purposes, the League of Nations was moribund. Little more than twenty years had elapsed since the conclusion of the Great War, and mankind’s descent into another maelstrom of death and madness had begun.
The United Nations was created as successor to the League of Nations after World War II, but it has the same organic defect that doomed its predecessor. Unanimous agreement is required among the members of the Security Council before any effective peace keeping action can be taken. During its long history, the only major military enterprise under United Nations auspices was the Korean War, and that occurred only because the Soviet Union was boycotting the Security Council at the time and could not exercise its veto. League members began relying on extra-League arrangements for their security. Thus arose the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Moscow Pact, and similar international organizations.
In recent years citizens of the United States have become more and more disillusioned with the United Nations. A number of helpful international bodies work under its aegis, but much of the General Assembly’s time seems to be filled with Islamic fulminations against the state of Israel or wasted in other non-productive debates. The Security Council rarely accomplishes anything because of the divide between China and Russia and the Western democracies. The organization certainly has not lived up to the hopes of its founders. It was the East-West balance and the threat of nuclear war that kept the major powers in a state of uneasy peace or limited combat during the decades following World War II. That uneasy peace continues today, and the United Nations has little to do with it.
The failures of the League of Nations and the United Nations are not reasons to condemn the concept of globalism and international cooperation. However, the ignominious history of these organizations relative to maintaining the peace does point out how difficult it can be for citizens of different national and religious backgrounds to work together. As one example, consider the fact that the UN has been working to resolve the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir for the past seventy years. There has been negligible progress.
Persons appointed to international bodies are expected to protect their own country’s interests above all, and they do not speak for the common man or the concerns of humanity in general. We must also remember that cooperative international organizations such the World Court are composed of individuals from varied juridical backgrounds, and these persons are not necessarily grounded in those principles that our own legal scholars and citizens hold sacrosanct. We come from different cultures and different belief systems, and our view what is right and wrong is not always the same.
Muslim leaders in Iraq and Iran have different visions from us as to what would constitute a perfect society. Sharia law, anyone?
To put even it more bluntly, if a tribe of Amazonian cannibals invited a group of American missionaries to a feast, it would be wise for the missionaries to first examine the menu.
Let us work together on global objectives insofar as it is possible, but let us first agree on objectives and the ground rules under which we will operate. In that way, limited international goals may be met.
- Saving the whales.
- Fighting the international sex traffic.
- Policing across borders.
- Curbing carbon emissions.
- Resolving petty international disputes.
- etc, etc.
As for true world government, it will always remain a distant dream until all peoples are united by common societal beliefs and aspirations. Could that ever be?
In the meantime, let us work to make America all it can be – a nation that welcomes persons regardless of ethnicity or place of origin so long as they obey our laws (including our immigration laws) and subscribe to the beliefs that unite us as a people, including those principles so beautifully stated in our nation’s founding documents.
And, on the international front, let us cooperate with all nations and organizations that work for world peace and the betterment of mankind.