Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 14. July 13, 1950
United Nations and Korea
United Nations and Korea
After the emphasis "Salient" has lately placed on the importance of UN, we would hardly be expected to pass by the action in Korea without comment. The thing which has struck us most about it all is the complete confusion which has reigned on most sides because people discussing it have been unable to separate out the very different matters involved, and will insist on transferring the rights or wrongs of one argument to the whole case.
We think that there are at least three separate questions involved, and certainly both sides in the warming war have confused the issue by not distinguishing these.
First, there is the justification for the act of war in the first place. We have been told that the aggression started in North Korea: the Russians, not unnaturally, deny this. We then state that their stories are complete fabrications, they accuse us of the same thing—and no one can get to the bottom of things. There appears to have been no indication in anything we have read as to how it really started. But we can state quite definitely that it doesn't matter: what does count is that there is a dispute about which the opponents have not been ready to adopt the correct procedure: they have had recourse to war. And this we must condemn, or the U.N. Charter doesn't count. The resorting to war is wrong. If, of course. Lie's suggestion that all states claiming membership should be admitted had been acted on, then North Korea would have been a member state and clearly bound by the Charter. This would have clarified the position.
Blue and White—and Red
The second question is that of the U.N. action. The blue and white flag of peace is now waving over the American forces advancing (sometimes in reverse, it must be admitted) into Korea. Are they justified in claiming Security Council sanction for their action? From the Russian standpoint, they are not—and since the Russians can show (a) that they were not present and (b) that they did not recognise the Chinese vote, then the necessary conditions for permanent members voting in the Council were not fulfilled. The action is to that extent illegal; it is not U.N. action at all. The Americans claim that they can interpret the Charter to support their case, but it is significant that a world affairs talk over the National stations last Saturday made no attempt to refute the Russian argument about the illegality of the action. It becomes more obvious then that Lie's suggestion about the admission of Mao Tse Tung's representative should have been adopted: the Russians would then have been present. It was fantastically silly to think that a genuine attempt to solve the problem could arise without Russian members even present—it looked just too much as though no one wanted to stop to solve the thing in the true spirit of the Charter.
2 Blacks: No White
While, therefore, we must allow the aggression to have been unjustified in the first place, we also doubt whether the Council's action was any more justified. The doubt is increased still further when we see the manner in which the U.S. rushed into Formosa at the same time. While their action in Korea might appear partially justified, if one allows their premises, their action in Formosa is totally unjustified. They cannot use the excuse of U.N. action—and the fact that they coupled the two makes the "U.N. aotion" look a little suspicious—rather as though it were only a cloak for movement against communist countries. If their support for U.N. were genuinely impartial, then the Formosan affair would not have been linked with it, one is tempted to think.
Obviously, it is not too late to start solving the matter—but rushing into war to bolster up yet another Government which has been accused, like the Chinese Nationalist one, of being corrupt (and perhaps not without force, if the reports that American war supplies have vanished during the last year are correct) is not going to redound greatly to the credit of U.N. If both sides now make an attempt to settle the thing without letting every trigger happy warrior free to work off his feelings, then U.N. action will mean something. If not, then we will be giving the Russians even more material to argue that U.N. bas so far meant partisan action.