Day By Day

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

This Day in History -- Part Two

On this day in 1920 the United Nations was established in Geneva. It was the realization of the nineteenth-century notion that the great powers of the world could collectively organize the affairs of peoples throughout the globe.

Moralistic "one-worlders" [the "old left" and what would today be called "liberal internationalists"] used to charge that rejection of the League by the United States, despite the almost fatally strenuous efforts of President Woodrow Wilson to secure adherence, was the reason it was ineffective in preventing the outbreak of WWII. As such it was strongly emphasized in history textbooks, which commonly portrayed Wilson as a heroic figure, ultimately defeated by Republican isolationist folly. Later, such sentiments smacked too strongly of Euro-centric colonialist mentality to be sustained by new left radicals and the League receded in prominence for most historians. I just checked the brief edition of "Created Equal," a popular text currently in use at many institutions, and the fight over the League received only a brief paragraph.

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