The great hope for United Nations peace forces is that they may become a ready means of pacifying small wars in underdeveloped areas—civil wars and border quarrels which inevitably will flare up out of the tensions of national development—in order to keep violence and the issues behind it from spreading beyond local bounds. The nightmare of Vietnam as well as the recent eruption in the Middle East bear out the awful truth that a conflict without great international significance, if unsolved and uncontrolled too long, can easily become a stake in big-power politics, producing even at best a rising level of international tension and at worst a terrifying increase in the level of violence. Crucial to the preservation of peace, then, is the settlement of small conflicts before they get bigger. This is not because the danger to peace comes, as it did in the 1930's, from an aggressor with an insatiable appetite which has to be stopped before it gets too strong but because each of the Great Powers, the United States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and, increasingly, the People's Republic of China, is concerned that the others may take advantage of local conflict to extend their influence into the disturbed area. Therefore, even disputes of no great concern to any of them are indirectly a concern to all. The strengths of the Great Powers are so delicately balanced, the stakes of the competition so great, and the war potential of each so fearful that none is willing to allow another any new advantage.
1 Received her LL.B. from the Harvard Law School and her ph.D. from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.