【PART 4】 The Mystery of Security Treaty Village (2): The UN Charter and the Postwar World

 

7】 Article 9-2 of the Constitution was based on the idealist “world government vision,” included in the original version of the UN Charter

 

Needless to say, war is hell on earth. Except for a tiny minority that are convinced — or have a false sense of security — that they’d never have to go to a battlefield, and that they’d always be on the winning side profiting from war, it’s human nature to wish to eliminate war from this world somehow.

When it comes to actual ways to eliminate war, however, our opinions become divided. Roughly speaking, firstly, there is the very idealistic view that we should create a world government, under which all nations would abandon war potential.

On the other hand, there is the opposite view claiming idealism doesn’t work, and that utopian ideas which disregard human evil only create hell. They claim that real peace is only possible through a balance of power among the big military powers.

As for the current UN, I think it combines the two positions above. Its outer framework is idealistic, while it incorporates “pseudo-balance of power” by having the Big Five as permanent members of the Security Council. I think this global security system is well thought through. (As for us Japanese, we can only try to gradually improve things and enhance our position within this framework. The only way to drastically change it is to start World War III.)

However, what you need to note here is that the original version of the UN Charter, or Dumbarton Oaks proposal, was much more idealistic compared to the current version. There are a few major differences, the largest one being this: it didn’t give normal member states the right to engage in war individually. More specifically, principles such as the “right to self-defense” and “right to collective defense,” which were included in the UN Charter, did not exist in the Dumbarton Oaks proposal.

Of course, it is widely accepted in international law that the right to strike back when your own country was attacked, or in other words the right to self-defense, has always been allowed at any period. (Therefore, the stipulation of the “right to self-defense” had little realistic meaning there. Rather, it was probably written alongside the “right to collective defense” to justify the latter, which is a notion that goes against the principle of the UN.)

However, other than the case of striking back in self-defense, the Dumbarton Oaks proposal did not allow normal member states to use military force, unless they were “given permission from the Security Council” and doing so “as a member of a regional security system.” On the other hand, the Big Five (permanent members of the Security Council) were allowed to gather military forces from member states to form “UN Forces,” and use them according to their own judgment. They were to monopolize the right to engage in wars. This was the UN’s original vision regarding security (Refer to Figure 2 at the end of this book).

Had the Dumbarton Oaks proposal been adopted, the Security Council would’ve had an unprecedented amount of authority. The Security Council, rather than the UN itself, would’ve become a sort of “world government,” or a ruling system with military force.

Article 9-2 of the Constitution of Japan was written based on such idealistic visions included in the Dumbarton Oaks proposal, to restrict the use of military force to the Security Council, which acts as the “world government,” and to have all other member states abandon military force.

In the process of finalizing the UN Charter, however, some crucial changes were made to the Dumbarton Oaks proposal. As I mentioned, the largest revision made was to include the completely new concept of the “right to collective defense.” This concept had never existed anywhere else, and it was not defined at all in the UN Charter. Because of this “exception,” the original UN principle that “wars by individual states are illegal” lost substance completely.

What I’d like to emphasize here is that the vision to create UN Forces, which was the core of the world government vision, still existed in February 1946, when GHQ (General Headquarters, also called SCAP [Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers]) drafted the Constitution of Japan.

Around the exact same time, on February 1, the Chiefs of Staff of the Big Five’s military organizations met in London (where the 1st UN General Assembly was being held). They were about to commence discussion on the official UN Forces stipulated in the UN Charter, according to which each country would provide military force that the Security Council would have centralized control over. This was the first meeting of the Military Staff Committee (MSC).