UNITED NATIONS: Doubts & Debates

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In its graceful glass and marble palace by New York's East River, the ninth U.N. General Assembly opened last week with outward smoothness and inner doubts. Only one Big Four Foreign Minister, John Foster Dulles of the U.S., was on hand, and many delegates muttered that the U.N. was being bypassed, that the major decisions were all being made outside, at Geneva and in the private councils of the big powers.

Hardly had the delegates taken their seats and begun the formalities when up shot the hand of Russia's Andrei Vishinsky. This gesture, now considered as predictable as the arrival of the autumnal equinox, was the signal for Russia's annual demand that the Assembly eject Nationalist China and put Communist China in its place. With only a slight change from last year's line-up (e.g., Denmark switched to the pro-Peking side), the Assembly voted 43 to 11 to put off Red China's bid for another year. Vishinsky took the accounting gracefully, and the Assembly moved on to its business, some parliamentary, some oratorical, and, of course, much controversial.

The parliamentary: opposed only by three delegations (which voted for U.S.-backed Prince Wan Waithayakon of Thailand), the Assembly elected as its president The Netherlands' Dr. Eelco Van Kleffens, 59, a meticulous and skillful diplomat who knows law, economics and four languages. Van Kleffens, for seven years The Netherlands' Foreign Minister, has been prominent in the U.N. since its birth in 1945.

The oratorical: the U.S.'s Dulles promised continued efforts to bring to life President Eisenhower's plan for a pooling of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, even though the Russians snub it (see NATIONAL AFFAIRS). Russia's Vishinsky agreed with surprising alacrity to discuss the proposal, but this means nothing so long as Moscow sticks to its agreement-blocking preconditions for joining in such a pool.

The controversial: colonialism cut sharply across friendships, alliances and cold-war loyalties when Indonesia demanded debate on its proposal to eject the Dutch from Western New Guinea and Greece demanded a plebiscite to decide whether strategically prized Cyprus should remain British or go to Greece. The U.S., on the spot between its anticolonial instincts and its Allies, abstained in both cases. In balloting that joined Latin Americans, Arabs and Israelis with the Communists and split the five signers of the new Manila Pact three ways, the Assembly voted to take up both cases.