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Winners Make the Rules

The "Big Three" winners of World War II. Winston Churchill (left), Franklin Roosevelt (center), and Joseph Stalin (right).

Imagine what it might have been like for a small country to get an invitation to join the UN:

Big 3: 

Here’s our plan for a new “United Nations.” Do you want to join?

Small Country:

It sounds good—but I’m a bit worried about your plans for the Security Council thing. It seems that you have given yourselves an awful lot of power in this new organization.

Big 3: 

Of course. The world needs a powerful policeman.

Small Country:

Yes, but . . . 

Big 3: 

Don’t worry. We kicked Hitler’s butt; we kicked Japan’s butt, and if anyone else wants to stir up trouble, we’re going to kick their butt too. Isn’t that what you want?

Small Country

Well, yes . . . but who is going to protect me from you? It’s not that I don’t trust you; it’s just that . . . well, I’m a little afraid that you might be tempted to abuse all that power that the UN Charter gives you. Who is going to keep you in line, if you have the power to veto Security Council resolutions? 

Big 3:

Look, if you don’t like this plan, you don’t have to join.

Small Country:

But I do want to join. It’s just that . . .

Big 3: 

You don’t trust us. Then fine—go ahead—create your own international organization. Or stick with the League of Nations. See if the League can protect you.

Small Country:

But the League of Nations failed because the United States refused to join!

Big 3: 

Exactly.

Small Country:

So what are you saying?

Big 3:  

This is our plan, take it or leave it. If you want to belong to an organization that includes the three most powerful countries in the world, then this is your only option.  

Small country:

In other words, if I want to play with the big boys, I have to play by your rules.

Big 3: 

That’s right. And I don’t need to remind you: The world is a very dangerous place.

 

Check Your Understanding

  1. Why is the small country nervous about joining the United Nations? 
  2. Why is the small country probably going to join the United Nations anyway?