In little more than half a century international law and institutions grew from embryonic dreams into strapping adolescents. But now they stagger under an all-American punch.
In the ashes of World War II, the U.S., towering above its defeated enemies and battered allies, might have chosen to impose a unilateral Pax Americana. But Americans knew the burdens of war. Led by Harry Truman, Americans made three wise choices.
First, we opted to create a multilateral organization rather than rely on our own military superiority to keep the peace. Second, partly to ensure that others in the UN shared the burdens of global security, we helped Europe and Japan to rebuild. And third, we endowed the UN with an executive committee—the Security Council—responsible for international peace and security.