A World Federation? Ely Culbertson's Plan for a Different United Nations, 1943-44
Ely Culbertson, a Russian-American autodidact, became famous in the 1920s as a master bridge player and thus appears eminently unqualified to devise plans for a different kind of United Nations Organization. However, bridging gaps between different national cultures and finding new channels of communication and cooperation between the Soviets and the Americans was ever a priority for Culbertson. As a consequence Culbertson wrote extensively about the resolution of international conflicts, and among others in 1943-44 published a plan for a World Federation that was far more ambitious than current UN plans. For instance, Culbertson's World Federation would be endowed with the authority immediately to deploy troops to keep or make peace and for humanitarian purposes. The World Federation would also help provide public education in underdeveloped countries. To Culbertson that was a necessary first step towards the construction of democratic systems of government everywhere: his fear was that as underdeveloped nations began to industrialize they would use their new wealth to arm themselves with sophisticated weapons and start wars — but Culbertson's World Federation would also have ample means to prevent the spread of what today we call weapons of mass destruction.
Keywords: United Nations, World Federation, Underdeveloped Countries, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Education
Prof. Chiarella Esposito
Associate Professor, Department of History, The University of Mississippi