'Governing the World,' from the League of Nations to the U.N.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Prepareations for the UN San Francisco Conference, May 19, 1945. (United Nations Flickr)

The protests and attacks in Benghazi this week have refocused American attention on the Middle East and foreign policy. When the United States agreed to a no-fly zone over Libya in 2011, the Obama Administration famously "led from behind," and intervened only with the help of NATO, and with approval from the Arab League. 

This strategy marked a significant departure from the policies of the Bush Administration. As President George W. Bush noted in his 2003 State of the Union Address, he hoped that the United Nations would "fulfill its charter and stand by its demand that Iraq disarm." And yet, President Bush continued, "America's purpose is more than to follow a process; it is to achieve a result, the end of terrible threats to the civilized world. All free nations have a stake in preventing sudden and catastrophic attacks. And we're asking them to join us, and many are doing so. Yet the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others."

The United States' reliance on international organizations has an inconsistent history. From the League of Nations to the U.N. to the World Bank, from World War I to World War II to Vietnam, when it comes to international governance, Americans are often skeptical of competing interests abroad.

Columbia University historian Mark Mazower details this dizzying history in his new book, "Governing the World: The History of an Idea."


Mark Mazower

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [3]


"It's just not such a signifiant event"

This deliberate international crime and defilement of an American Ambassador thought the streets of a city he risked everything to liberate is "not such a signifiant event"?


Sep. 13 2012 06:56 PM

The President takes an oath to the US Constitution and not the UN Charter. President Obama did not seek authorization from the US Congress when he ordered the military intervention in Libya as he was obligated to according to the War Power Act.

BTW...if "The Book of Mormon" is sponsoring this broadcast should we not thank and praise the dignity of Mormons for graciously tolerating sardonic derision aimed at their faith in the name of free speech?

Sep. 13 2012 03:02 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The game is chess and not checkers

I think that Countries are taking Israels lead and intervening with "Mission Impossibles."
I hate conspiracy theories... I really do... but I think covert operations and ideas of what should happen in the Arab World are discussed behind closed doors among all nations and public policy is rhetoric and what happens in the U.N. and other organizations is just to keep status quo...

Sep. 13 2012 11:31 AM

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