Peace and Security—From What Source?
WHILE the United Nations has performed valuable services in some fields, anyone who keeps up with the news has to admit that it has so far failed in the area of peace and security. This is openly admitted by the organization’s most ardent advocates.
Thus, back in 1953, only eight years after its birth, Dag Hammarskjöld, then secretary-general, confessed: “Where our predecessors dreamed of a new heaven, our greatest hope is that we may be permitted to save the old earth.” Twenty-six years later, C. William Maynes, a United States assistant secretary of state, was forced to admit: “The main purpose of the Security Council and the General Assembly was the maintenance of international peace and security. . . . You have evidence that the organization has failed in its central purpose.”
The truth is, most of the outstanding decisions affecting peace and security during the past 40 years have been made largely outside the United Nations. In 1982, Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar bemoaned the fact that “this year, time after time we have seen the Organization set aside or rebuffed, for this reason or for that, in situations in which it should, and could, have played an important and constructive role.” Why is this?
Some point to the organization’s spectacular growth in membership as a reason. The 51 original members increased to more than 150, each with an equal vote in the General Assembly. Yet some of these nations are very small. Thus, the island nation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, the 158th nation to join the organization, has a population of fewer than 50,000, yet it has an equal vote with China, whose population is close to one billion. True, this arrangement gives smaller nations the opportunity to be heard; but it hardly encourages the larger powers to take the organization’s decisions seriously.
A second problem is touched on by Shirley Hazzard: “Powers of compulsion were not invested in the United Nations Organization, except in so far as they might reside in the very members most likely to need compelling.” In other words, the organization can make decisions, but for the most part it cannot enforce them. Weighty world problems are regularly discussed at length. Resolutions are solemnly passed—and then forgotten. In 1982 the UN secretary-general was moved to deplore the “lack of respect for its decisions by those to whom they are addressed.”
These are organizational problems—and there are others mentioned by analysts. But there are deeper, more serious reasons why the United Nations has failed.
The Deeper Problems
“It then seemed possible to establish, as a first priority, a system for maintaining international peace and security under the provisions of the Charter,” said Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, recalling the idealism of the founders of the organization. “What has happened to that majestic vision? It was soon clouded by the differences of the major Powers. . . . Moreover, the world turned out to be a more complex, far less orderly place than had been hoped.”
In fact, there was never any chance that the United Nations would bring peace and security. The task was just too difficult. The secretary-general’s comments remind us of the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Humans, with their limited wisdom and abilities, will never be able to solve the problem of bringing peace and security for all.
The secretary-general said that the founders of the United Nations discovered the world to be “more complex” than they had hoped. There is a basic reason for this situation, and apparently they were not aware of it. But the apostle John explains it thus: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) The Bible tells us that today “the wicked one,” Satan, is causing “woe for the earth,” “having great anger.” (Revelation 12:12) The grim reality of Satan and his influence foredoomed the United Nations’ efforts to bring peace before the organization even got started.
Remember, too, that the United Nations organization is a child of this world and thus inherits its characteristics. The weaknesses, evils, and corruption that characterize the individual nations inevitably also exist in the United Nations. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was quoted as saying in 1972: “A quarter of a century ago, with great hopes from all mankind, the United Nations Organization was born. Alas, in an immoral world it too grew up immoral.” The Bible warns: “‘There is no peace,’ Jehovah has said, ‘for the wicked ones.’” (Isaiah 48:22) An “immoral” organization can never bring peace and security.
What About Peace and Security?
So, will the declaring of 1986 to be an “International Year of Peace” make any difference? That is highly unlikely, since the aforementioned problems are completely unsolvable by humans. The “Year of Peace” is no more likely to bring mankind closer to peace and security than the “Year of the Child” in 1979 improved the international lot of children or the “International Women’s Year” in 1975 made the world a better place for women.
However, if mankind is to survive, it is obvious that someone has to do something about peace and security. Today, the nuclear-armed nations are in a position to destroy most life on earth. Sophisticated conventional weapons cause an appalling loss of life each year. Real peace seems further away than ever! If the United Nations has failed to solve these problems, who can?
A look at history suggests a hopeful answer. About 3,000 years ago King David, a Middle Eastern warrior-king, wrote about a future ruler who would succeed in bringing international peace. In a prayer for this ruler, David said: “Let the mountains carry peace to the people, also the hills, through righteousness. In his days the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace until the moon is no more.”—Psalm 72:3, 7.
What ruler could possibly bring such lasting peace? David was pointing, not to a human organization, but to his God, Jehovah, as the one through whose authority this would happen. Was this mere wishful thinking? No. David’s son Solomon relied on the same God, and during his reign, Jehovah showed His power in a typical way by bringing peace to Solomon’s kingdom, situated as it was in one of the most war-torn regions on earth. Solomon was not a warrior-king, yet during his reign, “Judah and Israel continued to dwell in security, everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree, from Dan [in the north] to Beer-sheba [in the south], all the days of Solomon.”—1 Kings 4:25.
Of course, that peace did not last. The Israelites fell into the ways of the immoral world and lost their God-given security. Nevertheless, more than two centuries later, when the cruel Assyrians were engaged in a peace-through-terror campaign, the prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of the King that Solomon had foreshadowed. He wrote: “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor . . . Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7.
Who is that “Prince of Peace”? More than 700 years after Isaiah, while the Roman world power was trying to enforce its version of international peace and security, that King appeared in David’s country, Judea, in the person of Jesus Christ. He told his countrymen about God’s Kingdom, of which he was to be the King. This Kingdom would be heavenly, thus able to solve the problems of Satan’s influence and of man’s innate inability to rule himself. Jesus’ countrymen apparently preferred Roman rule and had Jesus judicially murdered. Nevertheless, as history clearly testifies, he was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven, awaiting God’s due time for him to begin ruling as King of God’s Kingdom.
In fact, fulfillment of prophecy marks our present day as the time for that great event. It was the birth of God’s Kingdom in heaven and the subsequent casting of Satan to earth that led to Satan’s “great anger” and his causing “woe for the earth.” (Revelation 12:7-12) The result? Wars and other human distresses, as prophesied by Jesus himself. Earth has become the scene of “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out.”—Luke 21:25, 26; Matthew 24:3-13.
Man’s Way or God’s Way?
Jesus’ prophecies, coming to us from almost 2,000 years ago, have provided a more accurate description of world conditions than the optimistic statements made at the birth of the United Nations 40 years ago. The failure of that organization to find a “way out” only serves to highlight the accuracy of the Bible’s predictions. Truly, in the words of Isaiah, ‘the very messengers of peace weep bitterly’ in frustration at their failures.—Isaiah 33:7.
This highlights a final reason why the United Nations can never succeed in bringing peace to the earth. It is going about it in a way completely opposed to God’s way. According to Jehovah’s stated purposes, peace will come, not by a uniting of this world’s nations, but by their being completely replaced by God’s Kingdom. (Daniel 2:44) Dag Hammarskjöld said he was working to “save the old earth.” If by this he meant the present world system comprised of independent political nations, then his hopes were doomed to failure from the outset. The fact is, the “old earth” has to give way to a new system. “The world is passing away.” (1 John 2:17) Nothing can save it, not even a United Nations organization.
Given the nationalistic selfishness of the nations, there is only one realistic approach to bringing peace and security. God’s Kingdom alone can bring the kind of peace that man has longed for since he was expelled from the garden of Eden. Here is one description of the security that will result from the Kingdom’s activities: “[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:4.
Does that promise sound unrealistic? In truth, it is the only hope we have, and the next issue of The Watchtower will discuss in greater depth why this is so. In the meantime, we would like to draw your attention to an important fact: The history of the United Nations has not yet ended. That organization has an important part to play in future events. We encourage you to read the next two articles, which discuss the future of the United Nations organization in the light of Bible prophecy.
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The task of bringing peace is just too difficult for the United Nations
U.S. Army photo
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‘The whole world lies in the power of the wicked one.’ This includes the United Nations
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The United Nations will never be more moral than the individual nations that make it up