Historian and political commentator Kennedy here turns his attention to the United Nations, an institution he believes, with reform and sustained effort, can make serious headway in addressing the kinds of problems he documented in Preparing for the Twenty-First Century. The core of the book-six broad and insightful mini-histories of the last sixty years of global security; peacekeeping efforts; economic development; environmental, social, and cultural advancement; human rights; and the creation of an international civil society-is grounded by a strong opening account of the historical factors and motivations shaping the U.N. charter. That document achieved the formidable task of keeping all of the Great Powers involved and is largely responsible for the U.N.'s indispensable role in shaping policy addressing Kennedy's six problem areas. However, Kennedy argues that international changes like widespread corruption in failing postcolonial states and a shifting balance of world power have created an urgent need for moderate structural changes and more radical conceptual ones if the organization is to remain effective and become more so-as, he believes, it must. Concluding with a brisk series of reform proposals that recognizes the limitations of superpower realpolitik, Kennedy offers an impressive, authoritative and sympathetic account of the U.N.'s past contributions and potential for the future.
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Kennedy's history of the United Nations takes its title from "Locksley Hall," Tennyson's weirdly prescient vision of air war and world government. Like the poem, it oscillates between gloom and sentimentality. Kennedy, who wrote "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," proceeds methodically through the U.N.'s charter and its various branches, concentrating more on structures than on personalitieseven figures like Ralph Bunche and Dag Hammarskjöld appear as little more than sketches. But, amid the morass of commissions and conferences, and failures like Rwanda, he manages to find something convincingly heroic. "The traditional, limp, liberal defense" of the U.N.that it is a useful body in times of international crisis and has done good in areas such as Third World healthis, he writes "too weak a riposte" to the institution's critics. For Kennedy, the U.N.'s accomplishment is an "international civil society"a development comparable to a second Enlightenment.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker - click here to subscribe. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
It's been called the "definitive history" of the United Nations - and that is certainly what it is. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Claude Forthomme (Nougat)
The medleys are to short!!!!! This audio CD is disappointing. I expected the musical selections to be longer. Not enough of each selection to make it enjoyable.Published 20 months ago by Nell Meador
The author believes in world government, with the UN being the first step in that direction. Anything or anyone who is not on board with that agenda is open to either criticism or... Read morePublished on October 12, 2012 by Johann Alpacaburg
While very informative and in-depth, this book on the UN is most of all... boring and terribly difficult to get through. Read morePublished on January 30, 2012 by aston0018
Today (February 7, 2008), 1,700 Blue helmets sit at the edge of the abyss in East Africa. The UN peacekeepers between Eritrea and Ethiopia are currently struggling without fuel... Read morePublished on February 7, 2008 by J. D Morrow
Kennedy's problems start with the title. It's great to quote from Tennyson, but the UN is hardly The Parliament of Man. Read morePublished on November 3, 2007 by James Carragher