“Progressive controlled disarmament and continuously developing principles and procedures of international law would proceed to a point where no state would have the military power to challenge the progressively strengthened U.N. Peace Force,” recommended a disarmament proposal introduced at the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 1961.
The proposal called for a three-stage “disarmament” program that would not disarm everyone but give the UN military superiority. “States would retain only those forces, non-nuclear armaments, and establishments required for the purpose of maintaining internal order,” the proposal stated, while “the peace-keeping capabilities of the United Nations would be sufficiently strong and the obligations of all states under such arrangements sufficiently far-reaching as to assure peace and the just settlement of differences in a disarmed world.”
And how would the UN exercise its monopoly of power in this “disarmed world”? It supposedly would enforce world peace. But what would prevent this same monopoly of power from being used instead to impose global tyranny?
Would the United States ever submit to such a plan making our country militarily inferior to an empowered United Nations? Undoubtedly many good Americans would say “Never!” But they would be wrong. The proposal quoted above, entitled Freedom From War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World (State Department Publication 7277), was presented to the United Nations by President John F. Kennedy. Not only that, but the “disarmament” program outlined in Freedom From War, and a year later described in more detail in a 1962 document entitled Blueprint for the Peace Race, not only was official U.S. government policy at the time, but has never been formally withdrawn.
Of course the actual UN “peacekeeping forces” have never acquired anything near the military superiority described in Freedom From War. What has happened instead is the transformation of the role of the U.S. military from defending the United States to policing the world on behalf of the UN. This transformation, which was already well under way prior to the unveiling of Freedom From War in 1961, continues to the present day. And many Americans who would be outraged if all U.S. military forces were to don UN blue overlook the UN connection when those same forces, wearing U.S. uniforms, are used to enforce UN resolutions. Let’s take a look.
From Victory to Defeat
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, there was no United Nations, and the U.S. Congress still decided when to send the nation into war. One day after this horrific event, Congress declared war on Japan. Italy and Germany, Japan’s partners in an alliance, declared war on the United States. On December 11, Congress responded by formally declaring war on Japan’s two European partners.
These three declarations of war referred to Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, wherein Congress alone was granted power to “declare war.” Practically overnight, therefore, the United States became embroiled in what were actually two separate wars — one in the Pacific and one in Europe. After maximum effort, enormous expense, great loss of life, and a huge number of wounded over more than three years, our forces won both wars in 1945. Deeming the huge effort worthwhile, Americans celebrated those remarkable victories.
Victory in those conflicts was not assured because the U.S. government retained control of its own military, but it did mean that the United States, unfettered by UN control, was able to decide whether to go to war and how to conduct the war effort. In fact, at this point in history, the United States had never lost a war. But since WWII, there have been no more war declarations by Congress, and war has meant stalemate or defeat. Subservience to the United Nations is the reason for our decades-long “less than victory” record.
Our nation didn’t win in Korea or Vietnam. Nor did we win in Afghanistan, where American boots are still on the ground fighting “the war on terrorism,” or even in Iraq, where the original objective to enforce UN resolutions to rid the regime of its reputed weapons of mass destruction was expanded to include regime change and (in President George W. Bush’s words) “a free Iraq.” Victory wasn’t the goal in several other smaller engagements.
No congressional declarations of war were issued because our nation’s leaders had turned over war-making power to the United Nations, which provided the authorization for conflict and established the rules of engagement. There is an easily understood principle involved here that should never be ignored. It is that one seeks, or is granted, authorization from a superior, not an inferior. Because our leaders ignore the U.S. Constitution while supporting a United Nations with teeth under the UN Charter, the latter has become the U.S. military’s superior.
The Charter of the United Nations was written largely by two men: the Soviet Union’s open and avowed communist Andrei Vishinski and America’s Alger Hiss. The latter, who was later shown to be a secret communist, was the first secretary-general of the United Nations at its founding San Francisco Conference from late April to late June of 1945, when delegates from 50 nations hammered out the final details contained in the Charter. Upon completion of their work, the Charter was sped to the U.S. Senate for ratification.
The American people, certainly including the members of the Senate, were steamrolled by an avalanche of pro-UN sentiment from political leaders, the media, clergymen, and others. Those messages claimed that, after two costly world wars during the past 25 years, something new had to be tried to avoid similar future conflicts. The something new, of course, was the United Nations. During a mere six days, nowhere near the nine months of deliberations that kept our country out of the League of Nations after World War I, senators overwhelmingly approved the Charter by a vote of 89 to 2. That approval enrolled the United States in the new United Nations as one of its founding members.
The two lonely Senate naysayers were William Langer of North Dakota and Henrik Shipstead of Minnesota. In his warning to Senate colleagues on July 27, 1945, Senator Shipstead urged a “no” vote because “control of the war power, as provided in the Constitution, must remain in the Congress if the United States is going to remain a republic.” He saw what would happen if the Charter were approved and the United States became a UN member. One day later, as consideration by the senators continued, Langer objected to the proposed UN having authority “to send our boys all over the earth.” His study of the Charter convinced him that it was “fraught with danger to the American people and to American institutions.”
These two senators had obviously studied the Charter and rejected it. Shipstead and Langer objected to the Charter’s Article 25 that states in its entirety, “The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.” No one who swore a solemn oath to the U.S. Constitution and believed in independence for our nation could honestly agree to that. The two stalwart senators likely objected to Article 43 as well. It requires UN member nations to “make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance, and facilities” needed to carry out the wishes of the UN. Anyone who studied the Charter couldn’t dispute the concerns voiced by Shipstead and Langer. But what those two senators stated failed to stop the pro-UN steamroller.
Later, in December 1945, with our nation already a UN member, a few members of the House of Representatives voiced their concerns when asked to approve a measure known as the United Nations Participation Act. UNPA stated that “the President shall not be deemed to require authorization of Congress” to send troops to carry out missions authorized by the UN Security Council. Passage of this legislation gave unconstitutional power to all presidents to send U.S. forces into whatever mission the UN deemed necessary.
During discussions about UNPA, Representative Jessie Sumner (R-Ill.) told her colleagues on December 18, 1945 that the measure before them “gives congressional authority for surrendering the American people to an all-powerful world super-government.” Representative Frederick Smith (R-Ohio) saw the measure as a blow to “the very heart of the Constitution.” Additionally, he claimed “the power to declare war shall be taken from Congress and given to the President. Here is the essence of dictatorship.” But because most members of Congress were already captivated by the need to create something new to prevent another world war, the measure won passage with a lopsided vote of 355 to 15. And when the Senate concurred, UNPA became law.
By the end of 1945, therefore, our nation had joined the United Nations, and it awarded the president power to send members of our nation’s military to enforce UN resolutions anywhere on Earth. The U.S. Constitution’s requirement that American forces could be sent to war only after a congressional declaration of war had been overruled. The warnings of the very few were ignored.
More skirting of the Constitution appears in Articles 52-54 of the UN Charter. These articles permit nations to form “regional arrangements” for the purpose of maintaining “international peace and security.” The 1949 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was the first such “arrangement.” Its chief architect was John Foster Dulles, a key disciple of Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) founder Edward Mandell House. Members of Congress and many Americans were led to believe that NATO was needed to prevent further Soviet conquests in Europe. Numerous nations in Eastern Europe had already been overrun by the Soviet military. Secretary of State Dean Acheson, a key promoter of NATO who was also a member of the CFR, claimed in a speech delivered on March 19, 1949 that the pact “was designed to fit precisely into the framework of the United Nations,” that it “is subject to the overriding provisions of the United Nations Charter,” and that it “is an essential measure for strengthening the United Nations.”
Several senators, led by Robert Taft (R-Ohio), had become justifiably wary of the UN’s growing power. They pointed to NATO’s requirement that all members go to war if any of its members are attacked. Taft complained that the Truman administration had adopted a belief that America “was some kind of demi-god and Santa Claus to solve the problems of the world.” But with only 13 dissenters, the Senate approved immersion into NATO on July 12, 1949.
U.S. entry into NATO also further immersed the U.S. military into the United Nations, NATO’s overseer. The UN Charter clearly states that no action undertaken by its “regional arrangements” shall be “without the authorization of the Security Council.” Article 54 of the Charter requires that a regional pact such as NATO must report its “activities” to the Security Council, and even report any activities “in contemplation.” (Emphasis added.) Yet many Americans who would oppose putting the U.S. military under UN command do not see that this has been done in the case of U.S. troops placed under NATO.
U.S. soldiers served under the United Nations in the Korean War, which began on June 25, 1950, when communist North Korean forces invaded non-communist South Korea. Two days later, the UN Security Council issued Resolution #83, calling on UN member nations to rush to the aid of South Korea. Relying on power unconstitutionally granted to a president by the United Nations Participation Act, Harry S. Truman announced his intention to send U.S. forces into the Korean conflict. Senator Taft complained that Truman was acting “without congressional approval” and that what he planned “would have finally terminated for all time the right of Congress to declare war which is granted to Congress alone by the Constitution.”
Asked at a June 29, 1950 press conference whether our nation was at war, President Truman responded, “We are not at war; this is a police action.” He told reporters that if he could send troops to NATO (which he had already done), he could send them to Korea. Truman relied on membership in NATO as his authorization to send troops into the undeclared Korean conflict, an obvious war that he even refused to call a war.
America’s forces fought in Korea for three years, but always under the UN despite the actual military commanders being American. The Korean War has never been settled, even though an armistice stopped most of the fighting in 1953. America’s casualties included 33,746 dead, 103,284 wounded, and 8,177 missing. And even now, more than 60 years after the armistice, the continued presence of tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in South Korea would certainly result in U.S. involvement in another Korean War should North Korea invade the South again.
During the three-year struggle in Korea, numerous U.S. military officers complained bitterly about restrictions on their actions. During the early months of the conflict, when U.S. forces had virtually won the war even while under UN oversight, President Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur of command. MacArthur reported in his 1964 book Reminiscences that the communist enemy, both the North Koreans and their Chinese allies, knew the U.S. plans in advance. The UN Charter’s Article 54 requires the sending of reports not only of actions already taken but also those “in contemplation.” MacArthur cited the revealing comment made years later by Chinese General Lin Piao, who led massive numbers of his troops into Korea to aid the North Koreans. Piao bluntly claimed years after the fighting had ceased: “I would never have made the attack and risked my men and military reputation if I had not been assured that Washington would restrain General MacArthur.”
Who provided such assurance to the Chinese general? The answer can be found in the UN Charter’s Article 54. The restraining of MacArthur-led troops, and the assurance that they would be restrained, came from the United Nations. Our nation’s forces employed in the Korean War were betrayed in several ways, the most compelling being the requirement that their actions had to be made known to the UN beforehand.
The Vietnam War
During the Vietnam War, UN control of the U.S. military was exercised through the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), a NATO clone. John Foster Dulles, who with Dean Acheson played a role in creating NATO, supervised the creation of SEATO in 1954. It, too, derived its very existence from the same articles appearing in the UN Charter. Like NATO, the new pact subjected our nation’s military leaders to all of the reporting requirements listed in Charter Articles 52-54. The Vietnam War didn’t end in a Korea-like stalemate; it ended in complete defeat. And there can be no doubt about SEATO directing the debacle:
• State Department Bulletin 8062 dated March 28, 1966 proclaimed: “The Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty authorizes the President’s actions. The Government of the United States has informed the Security Council promptly and fully of all our major activities in Vietnam.”
• On November 26, 1966, Secretary of State Dean Rusk announced: “It is this fundamental SEATO obligation that has from the outset guided our action in Vietnam.”
• On January 10, 1967, President Lyndon Johnson confirmed what Rusk had stated: “We are in Vietnam because the United States and our allies are committed by the SEATO treaty to act to meet the common danger of aggression in Southeast Asia.”
The Vietnam War cost America 58,000 dead, 153,000 wounded, several thousands left behind, and an enormous expenditure of funds. According to analysts and military leaders, it could have been won in a matter of weeks had not there been political interference. In 1985, long after the United States had pulled out of Vietnam, Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) pried some of the Vietnam “Rules of Engagement” out of the State Department and had them published in three entries in the Congressional Record (March 6, 14, and 18, 1985).
According to these rules, American pilots were not permitted to attack a North Vietnamese Soviet-made MIG fighter sitting on a runway. The enemy plane could be attacked only after it was in flight, was identified, and showed hostile intentions. The same hostile-intention rule governed attacks on truck convoys. Enemy trucks could evade attacks by simply driving off the road. Goldwater pointed to the off-limits designation of large enemy sanctuaries and the hands-off rule regarding the North Vietnamese port of Haiphong through which the communist-led forces were supplied. He stated that these rules allowed the enemy to protect its forces and weaponry, and even permitted the North Vietnamese to erect SAM missile sites that were off-limits during construction and would later target U.S. aircraft.
Goldwater summarized what he had gleaned from the formerly classified directives. He wrote, “These rules unquestionably denied a military victory to allied forces in South Vietnam. And I hope that historians will come to recognize the importance of these self-defeating restrictions in preventing the successful culmination of military activities, an artificial handicap that must never again cripple our Armed Forces.”
American forces began their withdrawal from Southeast Asia in 1973. Two years later, Saigon fell to the communists. The rules of engagement, authored and approved by U.S. officials, did not mention the United Nations. Yet, the United States intervened under UN authority (via the now-defunct SEATO) to carry out UN objectives, resulting in the first war America had ever lost.
Two Wars in Iraq
Despite our stalemate in Korea and defeat in Vietnam, U.S. policymakers continued to use the U.S. military to carry out UN missions, and the U.S. Congress continued to acquiesce. When Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait in 1990, President George H. W. Bush immediately sought authorization from the UN to oust Saddam Hussein’s invasion force. Bush formed a coalition, sought and obtained UN authorization to invade Iraq (see Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687), and repeatedly stated that his goal was a “new world order” that would bring about a “reinvigorated United Nations.”
The Bush goals were not why members of the U.S. Armed Forces donned their uniforms and endured rigorous training. Upon enlistment, each swore an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, not the UN Charter. But increasing the power of the UN and watering down allegiance to America most assuredly were the president’s goals.
There was no congressional declaration of war against Iraq. Instead, Congress voted for a resolution authorizing Bush “to use U.S. Armed Forces pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 678.” Bush deployed U.S. forces for this purpose, and they were stopped well short of Baghdad because the UN authorized only removing Iraq’s forces from Kuwait. However, the United States should not have intervened in the first place, since the U.S. military should be used to protect our own country, not to police the world.
When Bush campaigned for reelection in 1992, he had the effrontery to boast, “I didn’t have to get permission from some old goat in Congress to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.” The leading figures in his administration (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, et al.) then formed the Project for the New American Century calling for another invasion of Iraq.
When George W. Bush became president in 2001, he followed in his father’s footsteps by awarding key posts in his administration to many of the same individuals from his father’s old team. These men sought and obtained authorization from the UN for a second invasion of Iraq in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, despite that fact that Saddam Hussein had not attacked us on 9/11.
In March 2003, U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte cited the previous UN Security Council resolutions obtained in 1990-1991 for authority to invade Iraq a second time. That invasion, begun in 2003 and carried out over that decade, cost America 4,491 fatalities and tens of thousands wounded. Over half a million Iraqi civilians perished as a result of the war, and the country was left in a shambles.
What did the second Iraq War achieve? A portion of the nation is now in the hands of the bloody-handed Islamic state (ISIS), and Shiite-Sunni warfare has resumed. The Christian population of Iraq, formerly 1.5 million in number, has shrunk by two-thirds. In short, the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the American forces operating under UN authorization proved to be an utter disaster.
Although most of the hijackers in the 9/11 attacks were Saudis, Afghanistan was targeted for reprisal immediately after the attacks. Why Afghanistan? The Taliban government then in power refused to hand over Osama bin Laden or expel al-Qaeda. But after intervening in Afghanistan in 2002, the U.S. military has never left that country (though bin Laden made his way to Pakistan), making Afghanistan our longest war.
The UN-created International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), already on the ground in Afghanistan, constituted another international coalition. By 2003, NATO supplanted the ISAF and has been in charge of the military effort in that war-torn nation ever since, despite the fact that Afghanistan is outside the NATO (North Atlantic) region. As of late 2015, NATO forces have suffered 3,407 deaths, of which 2,291 were Americans. Despite the sacrifice, the regime propped up by NATO’s presence is corrupt, and on numerous occasions Afghan soldiers being trained by Americans have used their weapons to kill the Americans training them.
When Will It End?
U.S. forces have carried out smaller missions during recent decades. In December 1992, President George H. W. Bush cited authorization from a UN Security Council resolution to send 30,000 U.S. troops into Somalia. In April 1994, with Bill Clinton in the White House, a British UN troop commander, paired with a UN diplomat from Japan, gave the order for U.S. fighter planes from NATO to attack targets in Bosnia. In September 1994, President Clinton sent tens of thousands of American troops to Haiti to enforce another UN resolution. In March 2011, President Obama deployed U.S. forces in the NATO air war against Libya that was authorized by a UN Security Council resolution.
When will this train of U.S. military interventions under UN authority end? Rather than end, it will in all likelihood get worse, with the UN’s military control becoming more overt and direct, perhaps along the lines of the aforementioned Freedom From War proposal — unless sufficient numbers of informed Americans get involved to force a change in policy.
If a politician, or anyone for that matter, argues that the United States should cease policing the world under the UN, shouldn’t every American agree? It is hardly excessive to conclude that the U.S. military should no longer serve as the UN’s main military arm, but should instead be restored to its traditional role of protecting the United States under the U.S. Constitution.
The only logical response to all of this is for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations. Quitting the UN would likely accomplish exiting NATO as well, but there might be a need for additional steps to exit NATO. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) has introduced the American Sovereignty Restoration Act (H.R. 1205), which would terminate U.S. membership in the world body. Every House member should be urged to cosponsor this important measure, and senators should be urged to introduce companion legislation.
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One Very Principled Soldier
In early 1995, Army Specialist Michael New carried out all of the assignments he was given without question. Stationed in Germany, the decorated and highly respected medic was always counted among the best. But when he and his mates in their 550-man battalion were ordered to sew UN insignia on their uniforms and replace their Army hats with the UN’s blue berets prior to being sent to Macedonia, he resisted. He stated simply that he had sworn an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution and he had not pledged any allegiance to the United Nations.
Having already served in one UN “peacekeeping” operation without being told he had to don UN insignia, New had no objection about possibly being sent to Macedonia. But he did object to being made into a de facto UN soldier. Told he would face court-martial and removal from the Army if he refused to follow the order given him and his mates, he didn’t bend and was promptly removed from the battalion. While taking his stand, he learned that his overall commander would be one of Finland’s military officers, Brigadier General Juha Engstrom, when his unit got to Macedonia.
His battalion’s sergeant major and one of the unit’s lieutenants badgered him to obey an order that he considered wrong. He told them: “I am an American soldier and will serve as a medic where I am sent and will seek to help my fellow soldiers. But I am not going to wear that uniform. I believe they [the UN] are a foreign power no different from a foreign government. For the same reason I won’t wear [UN insignia] I would not wear a Russian uniform or salute a Russian flag.”
Eventually court-martialed and given a bad conduct discharge, Michael New has always maintained that he did nothing wrong. He claimed that his early training included his right to disobey an illegal order.
Photo of United Nations Security Council: AP Images
John F. McManus is president emeritus of The John Birch Society.
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