Northern Illinois University Press

Trygve Lie and the Cold War

The UN Secretary-General Pursues Peace, 19461953

James Barros

"Barros approaches the man and his times in a thoroughly balanced and scholarly manner in this most impressive book."Foreign Affairs

The creation of the United Nations in 1945 promised a future of international cooperation and security to a world battered by postwar political upheaval. By the early 1950s, however, the initial postwar idealism and euphoria had faded. The United Nations coalition that had won the war against the Axis powers had disintegrated, and the Cold War had commenced. Behind the facade of ideology, the struggle for power between the East and the West took on dimensions that imposed yet another, and perhaps more threatening, battle.

This was the political atmosphere during Trygve Lie's tenure as the first Secretary-General of the United Nations. Elected to his post in 1946 to fulfill a compromise between East and West, Lie confronted a series of international crises that inundated the United Nations during his term. Volatile issues addressed by Secretary-General Lie included the presence of Soviet troops in Iran, the establishment of Israel, the guerrilla war in Greece, the overthrow of the Czech government, the Berlin blockade, the creation of NATO, the seating of Communist China in the United Nations, and the initiation of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan.

In his attitudes toward most issues, Lie was perceived as sympathetic to the Soviet position. Only when he denounced North Korea's invasion of South Korea did Lie earn the favor of the West and the lasting hostility of the East. Caught between two camps, Trygve Lie in bitterness resigned his post in 1953.

Barros draws from rare archival sources on the United Nations and its international relations to examine Lie's role as diplomatic middleman in the newly formed agency. Providing a balanced profile of the first Secretary-General, Barros documents Lie's commitment to the ideals of the United Nations and places his failure to moderate successfully among opposing forces in the context of world events.

(1989) 457 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-148-3
cloth $41.00

Table of Contents

1. Consensus Candidate
2. Persona and Politics
3. Postwar Fissures
4. War by Other Means
5. A Plunging Mercury
6. Palestine: The Children of Abraham
7. Initiatives Everywhere: 19491950
8. Thunder in the East
9. Thwarted Hopes
10. The Office: Then and Now
Bibliographic Note

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-148-3
cloth $41.00