Small Power Rampant
DETERIORATING relationships between Russia and the West can now be seen as the clue to much that happened at San Francisco; yet it would be anachronistic to over-emphasise the part played by this development in the minds of most of the participants. Idealism as well as consciousness of tension was brought to San Francisco and, paradoxically, the Allies of the Second World War had their peace conference before the fighting was over and when they thought they were doing something else. The conference excluded, of course, direct representation of the enemy—as the 1919 conference had done—but apart from that factor, it was to an unparalleled degree representative of the world. It provided a means by which the realities of power could be revealed and could be shaken down into a pattern. This process, though at times grievously disappointing, was not without elements of hope.
In the forging of a policy by the representatives of fifty nations great and small, New Zealand could, relatively speaking, play only a small part even when, as was often the case, she was associated with Australia
. Nevertheless, the San Francisco
Conference represented in many ways the climax of New Zealand's international activities and of the evolution in her basic attitudes traced in the present volume. The New Zealand delegation as much as any, and perhaps more consciously than most, was guided by its past thinking. In her case, however, this did not amount to a wish to return to a past state of affairs, real or imaginary. It meant, rather, the reaffirmation of principles which had been quite deliberately, and against the known wishes of the British Government, formulated in 1936. These views were radical then, in the sense that they required a bold reconstruction of the foundations underlying the world's security organisation, and they were correspondingly disliked by respectable and conservative powers who were committed to the existing system. They were radical still in April 1945 when Peter Fraser, having seen in the experiences of the intervening years no cause to modify them, carried them to San Francisco
as the basis of his country's programme for the post-war world.1
By this time,
however, New Zealand's international status and her habit of independent action in international affairs had grown vastly stronger. Her Prime Minister had established with the leaders of the United Nations
strong links based on shared experiences and mutual respect. Further, the New Zealand Labour Government had built with the like-minded government in Australia
a firm community of purpose and a basic identity of policy. Fraser's ultimate decision to be present personally both at the San Francisco
Conference and at the preceding Commonwealth discussions in London
was in part due to the earnest request of Herbert Evatt, Australia
's Minister for External Affairs. Throughout these negotiations, accordingly, the similarity in viewpoint between the two dominions, and the ability of their spokesmen, formed a factor of some importance in international politics. The result was not to make the Big Three change major decisions to which they were thoroughly committed. In one sense, accordingly, the persistent fight of Fraser and Evatt and other small-power spokesmen had relatively unimpressive concrete results. Yet something was achieved, and issues were thoroughly canvassed. Moreover, the value of a fight put up in a political institution by a determined and well-equipped minority cannot be measured by immediate results.
Quite consistently, throughout Labour's period of power in New Zealand, Fraser and his principal advisers thought in terms of a supra-national organisation which would exercise judicial powers and command physical force and, moreover, could mobilise the loyalty of men and women all over the world. They fought for this conception both in Commonwealth consultations and, in due course, in the wider forum of the United Nations
. At first, at least, the leaders of the great powers had quite different thoughts in mind about the organisation of the post-war world. Churchill seems to have been the first to have given definite form to his ideas, and he inclined strongly towards a system of regional councils. ‘It was only the countries whose interests were directly affected by a dispute who could be expected to apply themselves with sufficient vigour to secure a settlement,’ he wrote. ‘If countries remote from a dispute were among those called upon in the first instance to achieve a settlement the result was likely to be merely vapid and academic discussion1
.’ Roosevelt in early 1943 inclined to agree with Churchill, and seems to have thought, indeed, that there might be no need for any world-wide security organisation at all. His view seems to have been rather that the future problems of mankind could best be handled by direct contact between Churchill, Stalin, Chiang Kai-shek
Within the American Government, however, Cordell
Hull and his subordinates in the State Department fought hard for an organisation more or less along the lines of the League of Nations
. Hull feared that, in practice, regional organisations would become spheres of influence for the various great powers. They would thus breed wars in traditional fashion and might even become strong enough to discriminate against American trade. Further, he believed that American public opinion would not support participation in a European or an Asiatic regional organisation, though it might accept something more universal. By August 1943 Hull's arguments had convinced Roosevelt. The President now favoured a single worldwide organisation, but his conception differed greatly from that of Fraser and other idealists among small nations. He thought of it as dominated by the Big Four, America
and (despite her existing weaknesses) China
. Churchill, it seems, readily followed Roosevelt's repudiation of regionalism, for he regarded this as the best means of securing American collaboration in the organisation of the post-war world. Accordingly, the first Quebec
Conference of August 1943 endorsed Cordell Hull
's proposal that an effective world-wide international organisation should be set up at the earliest practicable time.1
The principle thus agreed upon was duly proposed to the Russians at the Moscow
Conference of October, and for the first time the four great powers declared very firmly their intention to co-operate not only for victory in war, but in the building of the post-war world. As Hull triumphantly told Congress, ‘the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States
have laid the foundation for cooperative effort in the post-war world toward enabling all peace-loving nations, large and small, to live in peace and security, to preserve the liberties and rights of civilised existence and to enjoy expanded opportunities and facilities for economic, social and spiritual progress2
.’ It remained to embody optimistic general principles in a workable constitution, and this task was entrusted to representatives of the four great powers in the discussions held at Dumbarton Oaks
during August, September and October 1944. By this time a fairly early end to the war was a practical possibility, and accordingly there was some urgency about planning. Before the conference met, each of the four governments had prepared its own proposals; that of the United Kingdom
being drafted in the light of discussions previously held among Commonwealth countries. The four sets of proposals were interchanged among the governments concerned so that when the conference began all the negotiators knew what the others had in mind. In these circumstances, agree-
up to a point was readily reached. It was accepted, for example, that the organisation was to be named The United Nations and was to have as its two principal organs a General Assembly, on which all members were represented, and a Security Council. The Council, it was agreed, should consist of five permanent members—the United States
, the United Kingdom
—together with six other states elected by the Assembly for two-yearly terms.
Thus far was common ground, but decisions had to follow which would define the new organisation's essential character. One tendency, maybe even a final decision, was indeed embodied in the mechanics of these very preliminary discussions. Despite the vehement demands of Australia and New Zealand for a wider basis of discussion, the future world was being planned by the representatives of the Big Three, with China as a somewhat problematical fourth partner; and the draft proposals before them were frankly based on the presumption of their own permanent predominance. It is true that of the spokesmen present the British delegates knew dominion opinion very well and were understood to be keeping it in mind.1 It is true, too, that throughout the discussions there were regular consultations between the dominion representatives in Washington and the British delegation to Dumbarton Oaks. Yet wise representatives of small powers knew very well that the leaders of their great allies were not seriously concerned about their opinions, and that if a world organisation was set up New Zealand could not stand aside, however grave she judged its defects to be. Even with respect to her well-tried friends in Britain, Fraser knew well that in many cases they had to act without consulting dominion opinion, or even at times against the known wishes of their overseas associates. ‘While the representatives of the United Kingdom honestly give adherence to the whole conception of the Dominions having a full voice in world affairs,’ he said, ‘yet almost automatically they act in an emergency as if that adherence was overlooked for the time being.’ Such action he acknowledged to be at times unavoidable. But, he added, ‘when it comes to a series of events that means practically exclusion, the time is ripe for the next consideration.’
The Dominions, then, were under no illusions as to the weight likely to be accorded to their views by the principal negotiators at Dumbarton Oaks
. Further, though they formally and forcefully reserved the right to express their views on the proposals when these at last emerged, their representatives knew how hard it would be to bring about any change in the policy of the great powers when that had once been formulated. This was, in part, inherent in the
plain fact of great-power leadership. It was intensified, however, by the way in which the Dumbarton Oaks
conference was organised. In theory the proposals were to remain confidential until discussed by the governments whom they concerned. The United States Government, however, had two distinct and legitimate purposes. The one was to reach a set of proposals that would provide wisely for the post-war world. The other was so to educate American public opinion that, when the time came, the United States
should take that keen and active interest in the new organisation which all agreed was indispensable to its success. One of the instruments in this process of education was the discussion of the issues that arose, and of the policy to be adopted toward them, with congressmen of both parties. The result was that discussions at Dumbarton Oaks
were conducted in a blaze of publicity which obviously would make it all the more difficult to revise any of the policies then tentatively agreed upon.1
By September the great powers had carried their theoretically private discussions to the point of agreement on general principles, namely that there should be a world-wide organisation, naturally under their own leadership; and to the point of deadlock on a crucial issue of detail. The problem concerned voting procedure on the Security Council, on which was to rest ‘primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.’ All four powers agreed that sanctions should only be ordered with their concurrence. This departed from League of Nations precedent only in that it limited the veto to the great powers on the Council. The Russians wished, however, that the veto should go further than this. They wished in particular that it should cover substantive questions, that is questions other than procedure, and should be valid even when one of the great powers was party to a dispute brought before the Security Council. After some discussion and long delay the Russian Government announced on 13 September its final and unalterable decision to insist on ‘the principle of Great Power unanimity. In their opinion a world organisation embodying this principle would be quite acceptable to smaller powers whose one ultimate concern was security2.’ The British and American governments said with equal firmness that they could not accept a system which placed great powers ‘above the law’ and that they doubted whether other United Nations governments could be induced to accept such a system.3
The deadlock could not be broken, and the sensible course was adopted of publishing the very considerable material on which agreement had been reached. ‘The question of voting procedure in the Security Council’, together with ‘several other questions’, was noted as being ‘still under consideration.’ Among these other questions, incidentally, was that of membership of the new organisation. This was declared to be ‘open to all peace-loving states.’ This cautious phrase decently concealed a further unresolved problem. The Russians tended to think of the new organisation as being a continuation of the wartime alliance. They disliked an American suggestion that a group of non-belligerent states which was predominantly Latin-American should be admitted to it, and their counter-suggestion was that the sixteen Soviet republics should become members. This view caused consternation in the British and American delegations and by mutual consent the whole matter was dropped.1 The remarkable thing about the Dumbarton Oaks conference was the area of common ground. It reflected, in fact, the relationship among the Allies while Germany was still a formidable enemy and before the Russians had established the Lublin government in Poland. ‘The surprising thing,’ observed Stalin piously, ‘is not that differences exist, but that there are so few of them and that as a rule in practically every case they are resolved in a spirit of unity and co-ordination among the three great powers2.’
The great powers' proposals for the future world organisation were published on 9 October 1944 and thus the whole matter was thrown open for debate.3
Three days later Fraser outlined New Zealand's attitude towards them. He praised the proposal that national air forces should be immediately available for combined international enforcement action. This, he thought, was at least a move in the direction of an international police force which his government had long advocated. His main point of criticism was the absence of an express provision, which had been in the Covenant of the League of Nations
, for defence of the political independence and territorial integrity of member states. Nor did it appear to him that the proposed arrangements for preventing and removing threats to peace were, at first glance, an improvement on the provisions of the Covenant. He expressed satisfaction, however, that a good beginning had been made and said that the Government would examine the proposals with the utmost care before formulating its final views. ‘We hope,’ he concluded, ‘that the Charter will be
drafted in clear and simple language. It should be definite in its terms and it must express those moral principles which can be easily understood, which inspire universal acceptance and in the absence of which no machinery or security system can avail in the preservation of world peace1
The views thus sketched were amplified and sharpened in discussions held in November in Wellington with an Australian delegation headed by Herbert Evatt. The two dominions agreed that ‘all members should pledge themselves to co-operate in carrying out, by force if need be, the decisions of the organisation for the preservation of peace.’ They thought that ‘it should be a positive principle of the organisation, openly declared and binding upon all members, that the territorial integrity and political independence of members should be preserved against a change by force or threat of force from another power.’ Insistence on this last provision, indeed, was ‘the specific New Zealand contribution to this whole debate.’ They agreed, too, in stating the principle of trusteeship in its most comprehensive form.
No pronouncement was made, however, on the vexed question of voting procedure. Presumably, the New Zealand Government at this stage did not attach great importance to the issue. In September Berendsen for New Zealand had said that if Russia proved adamant it might be possible to accept a veto for great powers even when their own cases were in question.2 In October, considered New Zealand judgment appears to have been that she ‘prefers equal voting privileges, but would accept a Great Power veto.’ Her government was not alarmed at the possibility that the veto might be used as a cover for aggression, and on the other hand, pointed out the precedent of the imperfectly legal action taken by the League in the Abyssinian crisis: ‘if the situation is one in which the other Great Powers are prepared to take collective action against the dissentient Power, they will probably find the means of doing so, and of enlisting the co-operation of the Organisation as a whole, even if there is no formally valid resolution3.’ Fraser's own attitude was still tentative. We wish, he said, to avoid any action, however small, that might cause a breach with Russia, ‘because she is essential to the peace of the world’, but the price paid for her co-operation would be exceedingly high if the smaller powers merely acquiesced in their own submergence. ‘It is difficult and it is delicate, but I do not think anything can ever be lost by a declaration of the fundamental democratic principles4.’
The deadlock on voting procedure was at last broken on Roosevelt's initiative. On 5 December 1944 he proposed to Churchill and Stalin a complicated compromise formula. Its effect would be, he explained, that the parties to a dispute should abstain from voting so long as the matter concerned was one of the pacific settlement of disputes, or of peaceful adjustment. On the other hand, unanimity of the permanent members of the Council would be needed in all decisions relating to the determination of a threat to peace or action for removal of such a threat, or for the suppression of aggression or other breaches of the peace. Roosevelt argued that by accepting such a compromise the great powers would strengthen their position as guardians of the peace without deviating from the principle of unanimity in all decisions affecting their vital interests.1 New Zealand, being consulted on this new plan, reported in January 1945 that she saw some difficulties of interpretation, but ‘would welcome an extension of the area within which equality of voting rights as between Greater and Smaller powers is to prevail. If, therefore, it is impossible to secure Soviet adherence to a proposal that the votes of the parties to a dispute should in no case be counted, which is a solution which the New Zealand Government would prefer, that government would support the President's proposal as offering a balance of advantage2.’ In the following month, Roosevelt's formula was placed before the Yalta Conference, with Churchill's acquiescence, and with information that it was satisfactory to the self-governing dominions.3 After some thought it was accepted by Stalin; which represented, perhaps, the main concession made from the Russian side to the general settlement which appeared to be reached on that occasion.
In February 1945, then, the Yalta
Conference clarified the situation from the point of view of the great powers: an international organisation was about to be set up with American and Russian participation; and planned along lines which were fairly clear in the minds of the Big Three. It did nothing, however, to meet the strong feeling among the middle and lesser powers that they should have their say in the matter. Evatt spoke for New Zealand as well as for his own country, and indeed for dominion opinion as a whole, when he raised this matter forcefully. He wrote that Russian and American adherence to a world organisation at the earliest possible moment was vital. However, ‘we would not wish to be bound to any cut and dried scheme before a general conference. In other words there must be a maximum participation by Powers other than the
Big Three in shaping the details and procedure of the organisation1
.’ Some vigorous discussion followed among Commonwealth countries, and the United Kingdom
warmly welcomed a South African suggestion that representatives of these countries should gather for a preliminary discussion of the issues involved before the proposed general conference of the members of the United Nations
Commonwealth spokesmen accordingly assembled in London
in April. By this time Fraser had apparently decided that the veto problem as it had emerged was a very serious one indeed, but that plans for the establishment of a world organisation were already so well advanced that he could express his criticisms on this one aspect without jeopardising the eventual establishment of such an organisation, on which all agreed in setting great store. He accordingly became an outspoken critic of the veto. ‘Surely,’ he said, ‘it was the utter negation of any attempt to prevent aggression if, while small powers could be easily suppressed, those big states which entered upon aggressive policies could get off scot free.’ The proposals, he said, did not provide the means for achieving their avowed objects. ‘If the proposed world organisation had been in existence when Germany
in 1939, and Germany
had been one of the Great Powers with a permanent seat on the Security Council, the world could have done nothing to stop her.’ This line of thinking was not unchallenged. Attlee, for example, remarked ‘it was not enough to set up machinery. Aggressors could not be stopped, the hook could not be put in the nose of Leviathan, by means of a paper system. The control or checking of aggression relied entirely upon the will of the Powers comprising an international organisation.’ Such realism was, in fact, in line with a good deal of New Zealand's thinking and had been expressed at the Australian and New Zealand talks in November. British delegates, moreover, courteously hinted that Fraser had abruptly and substantially changed his mind since New Zealand's earlier acquiescence. This was, in fact, not quite the case. It seems that up to this point Fraser was, through an odd sequence of events, unaware of the exact position; for he had been visiting the Pacific
islands at the time when cabinet had had to reach a decision. On this occasion, though hard pressed, he would do no more than promise to give continued thought to the matter; and he made it clear that his present intention was to vote against the veto at San Francisco
. He was almost equally firm on the allied issue of the part that the small powers were to play in the new system. ‘It was obvious,’ he said, ‘that the large Powers must have a big say’, but ‘the prospect for
world peace was not good if the small nations were not to have an adequate say.’ He asked the British delegation to explain ‘why at Dumbarton Oaks
it had been decided that peace could be maintained by the Great Powers but that the Small Powers should have no effective voice.’ He added firmly that ‘this conception would have to be radically altered at San Francisco
At San Francisco Fraser fought hard along the lines he had indicated to his Commonwealth colleagues in these preliminary discussions. On 3 May he launched a forthright attack on the veto, as agreed between the great powers. This time he had an answer to Attlee's realism. ‘There is a great difference,’ he said, ‘between a nation defying the Council in violation of its pledge to accept, observe and morally abide by the decision, and a nation being legally empowered to exercise defiance of the Security Council…. It is also clear that if the veto is exercised in such a case defiantly, and perhaps even cynically, the faith of men and of nations in the World Organisation would collapse.’ If the veto, wrong as he thought it in principle, could nevertheless not be avoided, he said it should be restricted exclusively to the matter of enforcement action against aggressors. Fraser also took particular exception to the opportunity which Roosevelt's compromise had left open to the great powers of using the veto in the preliminary stages of handling a dispute in which they were not themselves involved.1
Long discussions followed, and New Zealand supported an Australian amendment to restrict the veto to measures involving the use of force. In practice the United States delegation were the strongest defenders of the veto and discussion became at times heated and personal. On one occasion Senator Tom Connally pointed ‘an accusing finger’ at Berendsen and is reported to have said, ‘You, Mr Berendsen, where would you be today if the United States had had to ask the United Nations for permission to defend your country even before the South Pacific had run red with American blood?’ Eloquence apart, however, the unanswerable case for the veto was simply that the great powers were so determined to have it that, unless it were established, there would be no United Nations Organisation. The New Zealand delegation judged that ‘the veto in the form proposed was repugnant to the wishes of practically every member except the Great Powers and those who by policy or interest made it a point of always supporting the Great Powers2.’ Yet, as was to be expected, the Australian amendment was defeated; there were 20 votes to 10 with 15 abstentions.
When the final text of the veto clauses was put to the vote New Zealand abstained lest the provision should lack its two-thirds majority. ‘As it had become abundantly clear that the Charter could not be obtained without the veto in the form suggested,’ reported the delegation, ‘it was on the whole, the wise and proper course at that stage not to vote against the veto and thereby possibly wreck the Charter, but to abstain from voting, making plain to the Conference and the world the reasons for so doing1.’ The matter therefore was closed, with New Zealand adopting her historical position. She expressed her own judgment with cogency and at times with vehemence. Yet her appraisal of her own influence was realistic and she accepted the inevitable with dignity.
Throughout these discussions New Zealand appeared very much as the independent small power, and not at all as belonging to a Commonwealth bloc. Indeed, as a great power, Britain was on this issue in the opposing camp; even if her refusal of further compromise was, like that of the United States, primarily due to belief that the existence of the veto was a necessary condition of Russian co-operation. New Zealand acted more often in accord with other dominions, particularly Australia, with whom her co-operation was close and continuous. Again, according to Fraser's report, ‘Belgium, the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece, Egypt, Brazil, Chile and Cuba’ were states with whom ‘in many important respects we shared a mutual understanding, sympathy and enthusiasm2.’ From New Zealand's point of view, the whole conference was something like a climax in the development of her international status. She was fortified by prior consultation with sister British nations in London, and by their friendly presence in San Francisco. But ‘without impairment of the essential unity and solidarity of the British Commonwealth’,3 she freely and candidly advocated her own individual policy with respect both to the veto and to other matters only less important.
The most significant of these was, perhaps, New Zealand's long struggle to have included in the Charter definite guarantees binding all members to come to the aid of a victim of aggression. An intimation, which was not followed up, that the United Kingdom
might accept something of this nature had come to New Zealand in rather a curious way in November 1944. At that time the United Kingdom Government was making great efforts to persuade the Polish government-in-exile to accept the Curzon line as their eastern frontier without further delay. In the course of this discussion the Poles inquired urgently whether Britain
would guarantee the inde-
and integrity of the new Poland
. They were told—so New Zealand was informed—that the British Government would be prepared to give a guarantee jointly with the Russians, and that ‘this Anglo-Soviet guarantee would in our view remain valid until effectively merged in the general guarantee which it is hoped may be afforded by the projected world organisation1
.’ The proposal fell through as a result of Polish intransigence, but the circumstance that another guarantee to Poland
had been offered without consulting the Dominions, combined with the apparent departure from the British line at Dumbarton Oaks
, led to some reflection in the External Affairs Department. It seems, nevertheless, that no official comment was sent from New Zealand. However, during the Commonwealth discussions in London
in April 1945, New Zealand played a lone hand in pressing her consistent principle of a clear-cut guarantee of territorial integrity. Even Evatt for Australia
suggested a compromise formula, while Field-Marshal Smuts and others stressed the difficulty of defining aggression. ‘Apart from territorial aggression,’ said Smuts, ‘there were nowadays more dangerous and insidious methods of propaganda and ideological attack.’ Attlee remarked, too, that ‘modern methods of aggression were very subtle and might, for instance, begin with wireless propaganda and economic penetration.’ He thought that the danger of an ideological war ‘was all the greater now that possible methods of aggression were so varied.’
Fraser remained unconvinced, and he brushed aside the difficulties of defining aggression. Smuts and Attlee seemed to him to be talking about prospective conflict between Russia and the West. In so far as this remained a clash of ideas, he could not see how the international organisation could handle it, and he went on to express the misgivings, quoted elsewhere, at the prospect of an ideological war along these lines.
He could not, however, convince his Commonwealth colleagues. In place of the guarantee which he proposed for every member's territorial integrity, they agreed to press for a rule expressly debarring all members of the new organisation ‘from the use of force against one another's territorial integrity and political independence.’ This formula was by no means satisfactory to New Zealand and at San Francisco
her delegation made a further vigorous effort to put more firmness into the guarantee against attack. The same arguments were used as at London
, and a number of amendments were moved in committee work. The most important of these proposed to insert a new clause into the Charter: ‘all members of the organisation undertake collectively to resist every act of aggression
against any member.’ The proposal, reported Fraser later, ‘was opposed throughout by the Great Powers and by those other delegations whose policy it was invariably to support the Great Powers.’ It was opposed by both the United States
, but was passed in the main committee by 26 votes to 18. This was four votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority, but, reported Fraser, ‘it was a matter of great encouragement to observe the very wide and vociferous measure of approval with which the New Zealand proposal was received1
This campaign culminated, then, in honourable defeat, and much the same can be said of the efforts made by New Zealand and other small powers to obtain, through the General Assembly, a greater share in the determination of action to check aggression. New Zealand pressed forward an amendment requiring that, except in cases of urgency, the Security Council's decisions should be endorsed by a simple majority of the General Assembly. ‘The present proposals,’ said Berendsen, ‘would bind the smaller powers for all time to send their sons to die as a result of decisions taken by unknown men in unknown circumstances based on unknown principles2.’ In the Prime Minister's more temperate phrase, ‘in matters of peace and war no responsible government, large or small, can sign away the right to pass judgment itself, in its own Parliament and through its own Constitution and forms.’ New Zealand, he said, had not shirked her responsibilities in war. She ‘asks now to be given an opportunity to meet adequately her responsibilities in time of peace. We are not prepared to be relegated to a position of “theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die”3.’ The New Zealand amendment was, of course, defeated; but there was some recognition of the principle behind it in the partial acceptance of another amendment on the same subject proposed by the Canadians.
The Canadian amendment became Article 44 of the Charter, under which the Security Council, after deciding that force shall be used, must give members not represented on that Council the chance to participate in its decisions concerning the use of any contingents they might be called upon to provide. This article was some concession to the smaller powers' wish to participate in decisions involving the use of force, but it was far from meeting the New Zealand viewpoint. In that it allowed the possibility that a considerable number of members would not be asked to take action in a crisis and ‘therefore have neither voice nor vote’, it tended ‘to destroy the universality and the authority of the Organisation at its most critical
.’ Further, though these arguments were not freely developed at the time, it seemed to open the door to reservations and negotiations on the use of force, and thus undermine the automatic and universal character of action against aggression. This was a matter on which New Zealand had always laid great stress, and it was consistent with her established policy and with her advocacy of the rights of the Assembly that she should sponsor an important minor move to make more efficient the action of the Security Council. Under the Dumbarton Oaks
proposal there was grave doubt as to the machinery by which member states should make agreements as to the use of armed forces; so at least thought New Zealand, Australia
. It was argued that, as the provisions stood, members were left to make these agreements when and with whom they chose; a situation almost bound to lead to ‘indefinite delay’ and ‘inextricable confusion.’ The great powers, remarked the New Zealand delegation acidly, made ‘an abortive attempt … to defend the Dumbarton Oaks
provisions as they stood’, but the Dominions' viewpoint was generally accepted by the committee. The final result was the acceptance of a New Zealand amendment making it clear that such agreements should be made, as soon as possible, with the Security Council and on its initiative.2
The adoption of this machinery clause was perhaps the main concrete fruit of New Zealand's two months' battle to bring the Dumbarton Oaks
security proposals more into line with the views she had expressed in 1936. Yet there were other threads of continuous importance. Running right through Peter Fraser's report as chairman of the delegation is the problem of the relationship between great powers and small, and indeed the suggestion that on many vital issues there was almost a permanent opposition between a more or less coherent group of great powers, plus their camp-followers, and those of the middle and lesser rank who were bold enough to speak their own minds. In this latter group the Dominions were strongly present, and New Zealanders were among the most persistent and cogent spokesmen. Fraser, Berendsen, Wilson and McIntosh represented contemporary New Zealand, but behind them stood generations of statesmen who in their time had wrestled, often unconsciously, with the same problem: Seddon, Vogel and Grey; Hughes and Deakin and Parkes; Laurier and MacDonald; Smuts and Hertzog; and, indeed, Washington
and Adams, Franklin and Burke. How many powerful countries work in harness with small, determined, far-distant kindred communities? How can the warm realities of democratic behaviour be built not only into the life of a great power, but into a community comprising many races
widely scattered? These are problems in which English and Scots, Welsh and Irish, can claim long experience, even if that experience has not been as unique as they sometimes claim. New Zealand's vigorous use at San Francisco
of the privileged, responsible position given by dominion status was in an honourable tradition: that of Britain
's long, turbulent political evolution with its odd blends of discipline with prickly individualism, of idealism and respect for principle with realism and skilful opportunism.
Neither vigour of protest nor urgency of argument could, of course, shake the plain fact of great-power dominance. No constitutional nicety could greatly alter the result if the Big Three were agreed; nor could it reconcile them if they disagreed. Half concealed among the debates of the concluding months of the war were problems which had little to do with details of the Charter, with voting procedure, or even with ethics or political principles. Would the wartime co-operation achieved between Britain, the United States and Russia, which was bumpy and uneven, but in the upshot adequate, continue or dissolve? Could Britain, with such associates as she could muster, hold her own with America and Russia politically, economically and morally? Would Western dominance of the world, symbolised in the giant strength of the United States and the power of Western ideas in Russia, continue? Was there any challenge brewing—in Asia and northern Africa for example—to create a problem of adjustment for the stiff minds of men bred in Europe and North America in the half century that closed when atom bombs fell on Japan? Much of the legal and constitutional machinery painfully constructed at San Francisco proved irrelevant to such gigantic problems: both the debates and the provisions resulting from them may have had their main importance in their tendency to make power politics operate more or less smoothly, and with more or less deference to the idealistic and humanitarian aspirations which were reflected, to an exceptional degree, in New Zealand pronouncements on foreign policy.