When the American, Soviet and British representatives recently presented themselves together before the Secretary-General of the United Nations to object to that organisation's extravagance, it must have seemed like very old times indeed. The guise of colluding overlords was the one in which the Great Powers who were about to become the victors of World War Two confronted the 'hoi polloi' at San Francisco. Stalin had confided in Churchill at Yalta that he was worried that the spirit of wartime solidarity would not outlast the first decade of peace. In this history of the UN's pursuit of world security during that decade, Evan Luard recalls that it did not outlast the first year. According to Churchill's account, the Soviet leader particularly distrusted the deciding of issues by votes, recalling with bitterness how the Soviet Union was punished for its aggression against Finland by expulsion from a dying League of Nations. He was much comforted by Churchill's meticulous explanation of the working of the veto in the Security Council, the example cited being that of Britain's ability to prevent in this way any attempt by Egypt to dislodge her from the Suez Canal.
LRB 3 March 1983 | PDF Download