Sunday, November 13, 2011

January 13, 1950 – Soviet Union Remains Active in the United Nations

Upon the 6 to 3 defeat of his proposal to oust the Nationalist Chinese representatives in the United Nations in favor of the People's Republic, Soviet ambassador Jacob Malik walked out of the voting chamber and announced his boycott of the Security Council. He blamed the United States for "lawlessness" and noted that anyone could see the illegality of refusing to recognize the PRC. Until the Nationalist Chinese were removed, Malik vowed that the Soviet Union would not be bound by UN declarations.

Although Malik was willing to make the gamble, higher-ups in Moscow were not, and he was replaced as the Soviets determined to keep their power of veto that had been part of the original agreements to joining the UN in 1945. The early days of the UN were rife with difficulties as the Soviets initially balked at the inclusion of India and the Philippines, the former colonies who were believed to be just extra votes for the dominant UK and US. Further issues arose when the USSR wanted each of its republics within to gain recognition, but the US countered saying each of its 48 states would then, too. A compromise was met with recognition of Belorussia and Ukraine, and the United States was proposed two additional seats but declined rather than choose among its states.

With the balance of the Cold War thusly struck for the early days, the defining moment of the renewed troubles was the refusal to recognize the People's Republic of China after the Nationalist Republic moved its capital to Taipei. Malik hoped for a shut down of the UN by walking out and relying on the power of the Eastern European Bloc. However, the West had worked to create another political union, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It had begun with the Treaty of Brussels on March 17, 1948, as a mutual defense agreement and continued to expand from the original states of Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, France, and UK. As the Cold War heated up with the tense days of the Berlin Blockade, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, and the United States were included by 1949. Seeing the potential for such an overwhelming position by the West, the Soviets decided to keep their veto with the UN to stymie the spread of renewed imperialism.

The resolute stance soon proved useful as the invasion of South Korea by North Korea arose in debate that June. Korea, which had been occupied by the Empire of Japan for years before its defeat in 1945, was split into occupation zones. The Soviets, who had invaded Manchuria and were much closer to the agreed upon 38th Parallel, held the north while the Americans stationed soldiers in the capital and south. North Korea came under the influence of communism and supported the People's Liberation Army during the Chinese Civil War. After the war ended with the Nationalists retreating to Taiwan and the formation of the People's Republic in 1949, some 70,000 Koreans who had volunteered for service returned to North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Il-sung gained Mao Zedong's blessing in May of 1950, and an invasion took place soon after in retaliation to provocative raids under "bandit traitor Syngman Rhee." They vowed to capture and execute the South Korean leader, who was evacuated, but not before he ordered the Bodo League Massacre in which hundreds of thousands of suspected communists were slaughtered by military and police.

Meanwhile, the invasion came to notice by the United States. Truman and his Secretary of State Dean Acheson agreed that appeasement could not be repeated and the expansion of Communism was a threat to the Free World. They knew that unilateral action would cause a massive upheaval, however, and so the matter was introduced into the United Nations on June 25 with a proposed demand that North Korea remove its forces, which would have been United Nations Security Council Resolution 82, had the Soviet Union not vetoed it. Arguing on the grounds of national sovereignty, the Soviets continued to veto potential resolutions, blocking the US's chance at stopping the flow of Communism. As the months passed and the ambassadors' hands were tied, Kim Il-sung's forces overwhelmed the peninsula, and it was all the US could do to organize a massive evacuation to the heavily militarized American bases in Japan.

Although many were frustrated, the primary mood of the West was one of conservatism. When the People's Republic of China occupied Tibet that November, again the United Nations sat with hands tied although the matter was widely debated. The nation most considered to have grave concern for the matter, India, held that the Chinese would be peaceful and refused to support military action. Truman's doctrine of "containment" seemed to largely fall apart on the impossibility of military action, though it had succeeded with its $400 million donation to support the government of Greece in its civil war. A new form of Dollar Diplomacy, famous from the Taft presidency, came into power during Eisenhower’s terms, fed by the vast economic expansion of the 1950s.

Instead of becoming militarily involved, the United States would invest heavily in surrounding nations, such as the famous New Society programs expanding support for Thailand and Cambodia after the fall of Vietnam under the Johnson administration. Meanwhile, covert CIA operations would aid enemies of communist influence, which would bring about the downfall of the cash-strapped Soviet Union after its invasion of Afghanistan. Despite its overall success, the policies were widely condemned by the often pro-USSR debates in the United Nations as "New Imperialism" and many countries such as Korea continued under what Truman called "totalitarian regimes", evident at night when the bright lights of Japan are compared with the darkness on the whole of the Korean peninsula.


In reality, the Soviet boycott lasted until August, absent from UN SC Resolution 82, 83, 84, and 85, which established the Korean War with peace-keeping forces from around the world, though largely American with General Douglas MacArthur as commander. Years of brutal fighting would return the demilitarized zone to the 38th Parallel, but further wars such as that in Vietnam would expand the fighting of the Cold War.

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