Interview with Jeffrey Laurenti by Dulcie Leimbach and Jim Wurst, December 12, 2013
LAURENTI: …Ed Luck, and the board, I thought at the time and even more ever since, put him on a trajectory to be pushed out of the organization. He had been the most successful fundraiser for UNA because he had opened the way to foundation grants. By giving UNA an intellectual heft, a voice in the policy debate not simply as a cheerleader for the UN, but as a thoughtful policy analyst and critic, even if from an internationalist perspective. Of course this was a time when the American political debate from the late ’70s — despite the Carter Administration’s strong support for the UN, you had this growing hostility rising in the Congress, and then with Reagan it was in the executive branch as well. The UN was very much on the defensive in US political opinion, if not public opinion. To simply restate the old verities wasn’t going to be enough, and Ed recognized that. Through the policies studies programs that Toby ran, big grants come in for that, and the creation of the ‘Multilateral Project’ was, although it became a core project of UNA over time, it was one that had to get financing. And there was one big project where a promise grant did not come from through. I think it may have been, was it on the farm? The agriculture policy one? There was one where MacArthur had signaled it was going to make a grant and then in the end it didn’t and that left a hole in the budget. But that was like 91 or 92 and I think that was where then Ed had his first run in with the board.
INTERVIEWER: I’m looking at my notes, he was President from ’84
INTERVIEWER: ’92. Is that right?
LAURENTI: He was nominally President still until 1995. 4 or 5. But…
INTERVIEWER: In the reports we have him, he was listed as President Emeritus
LAURENTI: That happened to him in ’94. My understanding is, Bill van den Heuvel’s initiative brought Nahela Hadi to be the COO who very quickly became the de facto go-to person. And John Whitehead, I heard from somebody at Renaissance Weekend, ‘Oh, I’m a friend of John Whitehead. He talks about this guy at the head of UNA, who he says “can’t manage his way out of a paper bag.”’ So there had been a sense that Ed’s style was not what good corporate managers would expect to run the organization, but of course it was their interventions that ended up sending the UNA into what in the end became clearly a death spiral.
INTERVIEWER: Obviously we know your biography over all, but if you can be a little more specific give us a little run down of your career at UNA. When did you start? Why were you hired? What were your interest? And what were they expecting of you?
LAURENTI: I started April 1st 1987, as the Executive Director of the Multilateral Project. This was the effort that Ed and Ann Florini, the first director he had hired for it, had pioneered I think starting in ‘84 to engage the grass roots, that is the membership, and organizing consultations around the country on a policy issue that would be fleshed out in a briefing book. They were asked to try and bring in as wide a range of people in their communities as possible. So that the chapters that did it well would reach into the political class would reach out to other organizations that might have some interest in the subject. The first one was, I think the first one was space, potential for…
INTERVIEWER: “Prospects for International Cooperation Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.”
LAURENTI: Right. Which turned out to of been realized once the poisons of the Cold War were gone, which happened in 4 years/5 years, became achievable. The next one was on nuclear non-proliferation, I believe. On that you actually had money in the grant for some of the more outstanding chapter leaders to be taken to the IAEA in Vienna; which was a big moral builder. In ‘87 the year that I came and picked for a man who was leaving, was agricultural policy.
INTERVIEWER: Talking about the UN’s agricultural policy?
LAURENTI: Right. Basically FAO, IFAD, and WFP. So it’s the Rome food agencies.
INTERVIEWER: I think there’s a copy of that in one of the Seton Hall boxes. Did she write…
LAURENTI: She had written the briefing book, but I did the report. That’s where I came in. I was also tasked with the post-report follow-up on the Elliot Richardson-chaired International Task Force on UN Management and Decision Making that was focused primarily on the kinds of agencies in the economic and social fields. I think still remains… so what was the title of the final report? [“A Successor Vision?]
INTERVIEWER: I can find it. I remember seeing that. It’s in one of the boxes.
LAURENTI: I still think it’s one of the most sensible reports on reorganizing the political center for the UN’s balkanized work in the economic and social fields.
INTERVIEWER: So, the Multilateral Project already existed when you came on board. That it started two years before.
LAURENTI: Right. It was in its third project cycle when I arrived midway through that cycle.
INTERVIEWER: And all these programs were funded by grants from foundations, or partial foundation, partial UNA budget?
LAURENTI: Well, the hope was to get as much as you could be funded by grants and if you had, as Toby once famously said when I said, “Well what happens if we get more money than the actual cost?” She said “That’s not a problem. UNA can always account for it….”
INTERVIEWER: Now the thing that struck me when I first read it, I thought it might be just sort of be a boilerplate for the memberships and all that which you said and what is says in this report as well is that, it was a partnership. You reached out to the community. You reached out to the membership. You said, ‘What do you think we should be talking about? What should be the report of this year?’ So it really was an actual partnership between the policy experts in New York and Washington, and the Chapters.
LAURENTI: Very much so. Because of the national advisory groups that we would assemble including a fair number of people who might not have had any real relation with the UN at all, but knew of that particular subject area could shape could give a sharper edge to ideas that had gotten support from chapters. If you read at least through versions of the reports that I had compiled, we would say, but large amount of value added. Went meticulously through all these reports to make sure all these chapters got quoted at least once, multiple times at best. Trying to and scouring for a fresh idea and, less difficult, a fresh optic that would allow you to sell an idea. And then you would go to the advisory group and they would be in a sense a screen for crazy ideas.
INTERVIEWER: You might have gotten some great expertise, but you also would have gotten some crazy ideas.
LAURENTI: Crazy by the conventions of what’s possible in the American foreign policy debate and maybe some just crazy.
INTERVIEWER: And you did that your entire time?
LAURENTI: No, not my entire time at UNA. There was a stint in which in ‘93 I actually had taken a job at the Century Foundation, but because I was interested in exploring the possibility, in fact was made an offer but then couldn’t be delivered on in the end, in the IO Bureau at State. The President of Century said “You just wait until… There is no point in you starting here and leaving the next month.” So Ed [Luck] had me working for UNA on a consultant basis through ‘93 and someone else had come in, Shareen Hertel, to do the multilateral project that we now had already rebranded as ‘Global Policy Project on Human Rights.’ So she did the briefing book. And then I was asked to superintend the final report on that one. And you have the list of the following ones?
INTERVIEWER: See the problem is what in the boxes as I go through the boxes. And they’re not in anything even vaguely looks like order. So like for instance, ‘One Earth, Many Nations’ from 1990, promises to keep securing.
LAURENTI: That was the briefing book.
INTERVIEWER: I know I saw the book, the one you were talking about financing, the organization of the UN. That’s in here, but as I said this is what is in each box and there’s no logic to it.
LAURENTI: Well I can find my resume and that will have the handy list of what I’ve worked on. And was then devolved to Liz McKeon for a project on global economy. The Human Rights with Shareen. We had previously done Collective Security, this was post-Kuwait. Had done Environment in the run up to UNCED, Rio in 1992. Before that, narcotic drugs. See this was responsive in part to issues that looked big on the national agenda. Issues that had some interest more broadly. There came to be sense of overload or exhaustion for a lot of chapters. Participation began dropping in the late 90s. This may have been a function of just chapters themselves being worn out. So then had a year interval between one and then another. The project we had organized on Arms Control, we had done the briefing book on for, we never issued a final report on. Our problem was an inability to get someone to chair it, to chair the advisory committee. The last effort was when we hired Liz McKeon to do it on Worker Rights in the Global Economy which was becoming a big issue in the trade agreements. The Clinton people had made noises about worker rights / labor right, but hadn’t done all that much on it. So this was already under way when Bill Luers arrived. He didn’t like the topic. He found that this was not a money making project. This is going to be a financial loser. That was the last one.
INTERVIEWER: What was the year for Arms Control? And what was the year for the economy?
LAURENTI: Arms control was 97 / 98. Global economy was either ‘99 or 2000, the briefing book came out.
INTERVIEWER: There were a lot of arms control related reports so, I’m not sure what could have or may not have been finalized.
LAURENTI: I’ll check with my CV to, because I have all these things I have worked on listed there.
INTERVIEWER: You touched on something that did confuse me a bit. Policy Studies, the Multilateral Studies, and the Parallel Studies. Multilateral Studies and the Parallel Studies were under Policy Studies. You rebranded the …
LAURENTI: The Multilateral Project. I was the Director of the Multilateral Studies. That was the job title when I came aboard in ’87.
INTERVIEWER: It was called ‘Studies’ when you came?
LAURENTI: Right. This was under the Policy Studies umbrella, so Toby was the Vice President for that. Then you would have Peter Fromuth with us on this UN Management and Decision Making Project. Steve Sleigh did the labor management in the international global economy for whatever period he was there. Then I also took on a UNESCO project in late 1988 through 1990/91 which was an international task force plus with the American members constituting themselves for as the group for a US focused parallel report on US interests in UNESCO. Which I would argue, was a major impact. It didn’t get the US back in while Bolton was IO Assistant Secretary and it didn’t get the US in with Clinton because that’s another story.
INTERVIEWER: What’s the story?
LAURENTI: Well, while State was behind it, we worked very closely with Doug Bennet who was an Assistant Secretary who managed to engage Tim Wirth, who was Under Secretary for Global Affairs a new job, and Strobe Talbot helped, but even as we sat down in a meeting with him on the UNESCO report, and they put the UNESCO money for dues in the budget they presented at the end of 1994 at OMB. After the election of that year, Jesse Helms was now going to be the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, there was an article that Barbara Crossette [of the New York Times] wrote early January of ’95 that the administration pulled the money out of the budget. It was going to do it. She quoted somebody as saying it was a “preemptive fold.”
INTERVIEWER: So this is Helms’ move, basically?
LAURENTI: Once Helms became Chairman they figured that ‘this isn’t going to go anyway. So why should we put it in when it’s going to be easy money for them to take out?’
It had been a big uphill slog, but Bennet found that you had people in the NSC staff who said ‘Why the **** are we talking about going back into the UNESCO? We don’t need to do that.’ These were hard security types. So all this is a diversion.
You had the recommendation that come from State that the U.S. reenter that was stalled for 7 months in the NSC. Then the ’94 election sealed its doom.
INTERVIEWER: Your project, the UNESCO project, was aimed to get the US more involved in UNESCO?
LAURENTI: It had two goals. One was to build international support for reforms reinvigorating the agency.
INTERVIEWER: To get rid of the chaff.
LAURENTI: Or the platelets that obstructed the arteries. And the other was to define the terms and process for US reentry.
INTERVIEWER: How long did you work on that project?
LAURENTI: About two years. In ‘88 we were starting to line up the members, but 89 we had our first meeting in Lerici, Italy.
I had, as you know because I told this to Dulcie, in suggesting what might be an opening chapter for whoever would do the study to consider, that it was one of these Multilateral Projects and the recommendation for UN Elections Body, which came out of this consultation through the membership chapters in the 1998 project. I thought that that was something to point to that the membership had been involved in. It was in a sense a bit ahead of its time. It was viewed as ahead of its time at the end of ‘88 when it was made, but the sudden collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe in the fall of ‘89 suddenly made it topical. We presented it to Tom Pickering when he was the Perm Rep here, Ed Luck and I went to have breakfast with him over at the residence at the Waldorf. Because that was a multifaceted project, he went through the items that he thought would be saleable within the administration and those would be harder to sell. And this is when he said he thought that could be sold. Indeed the elder Bush presented a proposal for it, UN Elections Commissioners Unit. This would become the UN Elections Office.
INTERVIEWER: What was the name of the project? Did it have a formal name?
LAURENTI: The publication was, ‘A Stronger Hand’. That was the report.
INTERVIEWER: And to keep the name of the projects clear…
LAURENTI: It was the Multilateral Project. Call it GPP1. Global Policy Project. Which is what the name of a project format became. Because nobody liked the word ‘multilateral’, least of all in chapter land.
INTERVIEWER: So there was nothing like this in the UN?
INTERVIEWER: Where did this idea come from?
LAURENTI: I’d like to say our membership chapters. We pitched it in the briefing book.
INTERVIEWER: What inspired you? Where did this inspiration come from?
LAURENTI: I don’t recall.
INTERVIEWER: But the UN wasn’t doing it. Maybe no one was doing it. Jimmy Carter wasn’t doing it at that time.
Just to get where it started.
It’s in the archives I was reading through it and I asked ‘Why didn’t they do this more often?’ So this wasn’t an annual or semi-regular update. But this was basically a position paper for why the UN should be engaged in election monitoring.
LAURENTI: This is just one of 8 issues that were taken out. This was a particularly complicated project because we figured this is 1988 Presidential Election year. No incumbent running. You could view as Bush as a continuation of the same, though he turned out very much not to be. But this is a break point. You could inform a new administration without criticizing an old one. Let’s look at the whole gambit of UN issues that would have a major constituency. So it was much thinner in terms how it looked in each issue area than the typical GPP would be because you are trying to do a broad waterfront with large consultations. A lot of chapters said that ‘we’ll only do two or three of them.’
If you look at the section on Afghanistan, we were farsighted.
INTERVIEWER: In terms of the Election Monitoring?
LAURENTI: No. That’s separate. The election monitoring is just one recommendation in the Human Rights section. We saw that as an area where the UN could do something concrete in the Human Rights arena, something other than just ‘the US should ratify all of the UN human rights treaties’. Which UNA’s convention resolutions every second year would reaffirm anyway, if you waded through those. Is there a collection of them? Of the Substantive Issues Resolutions Adopted at each annual convention?
INTERVIEWER: Yes and no. I don’t think it’s every year. There is a batch over two decades. The record tends to be incomplete. Some of that is in there.
INTERVIEWER: So the Multilateral Studies and Parallel Studies were under the Policy Studies. And who was in charge of the Policy Studies?
LAURENTI: That’s Toby.
INTERVIEWER: So she was in charge of?
LAURENTI: What she actually ran was the Parallel Studies.
INTERVIEWER: So she was the head of Policy Studies and Parallel Studies.
INTERVIEWER: And you ran the Multilateral.
INTERVIEWER: So she had two jobs basically.
LAURENTI: Well, right.
INTERVIEWER: Underneath Parallel or underneath Policy?
LAURENTI: Not underneath Parallel. I reported to her and Steve Sleigh, while he was there, would report to her. But she also did her own projects. These were the high level policy dialogues on the Soviet side and then she got winded with the Chinese. And she had at one point a quadrilateral that also involved the Japanese.
INTERVIEWER: Policy study with Soviet Union, then Japan, and then China. After they matured a bit they then had three of the quadrilateral.
LAURENTI: These were particularly important in addition to whatever financial benefit that they had to UNA. Net cash advantage covering the administrative costs, some degree of the organization in the overhead of the budgets.
These were important for engaging an American policy elite, members of an American policy elite who very often had no real interest in the UN and the work of UNA. Toby was able to create networks of people who were really active in the policy practitioner world when their party was in power. This involved no expectation that they support UNA or the UN. That was not expected.
INTERVIEWER: But these were national people.
LAURENTI: These were national policy ‘class’.
INTERVIEWER: And these were to develop a dialogue. To develop a network.
LAURENTI: These were viewed as important by their participants. As there was a number of other exchanges you had with the policy elite levels from a number of other organizations. You had long had some US Soviet contacts. At least since the Khrushchev days. These were important because you had under the cover of the UN all sides said that they formally recognize as setting the terms of the international order. You could have a dialogue that would be free flowing than when they were on opposite sides of the table as negotiators for their governments. These projects of Toby’s engaged people from Ken Dam, who was Deputy Secretary of State in Reagan’s first term, on to some tried-and-true liberal types who supported the UN. With these folks by and large you didn’t have pathological types, like John Bolton, who were just bristlingly hostile. These were the realist conservatives from the ranks of Republicans she involved. At some degree Rich Williamson became a protégé within the Department of State of John Whitehead’s. Although Rich was much more politically engaged and attuned, these represented the last layer of cartilage that protected the bones of the US relationship with the UN, the joints from being sundered late in the Reagan presidency as the dues were accumulating.
INTERVIEWER: It was almost like the UNA acted like a national convener.
LAURENTI: Yes and as an international convener. That was another major function in the policy.
INTERVIEWER: So it took on the role of the UN at a national level.
LAURENTI: UN officials would occasionally turn to UNA to convene meetings so that they didn’t have to go through all the UN protocols and having to invite everybody. Ed would do some of these on disarmament particularly, which was his biggest issue area. It was actually David Scheffer who approached me about doing something on the issue of the UN Inspector General which became OIOS in the end.
INTERVIEWER: He was at UNA right?
LAURENTI: He was in the Clinton Administration at this point. He was somebody you had been involved in one Toby’s Soviet dialogues because he had been a counselor staffer for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
INTERVIEWER: His name comes up sometimes in those archives.
He was the Ambassador he was in DOC for the ICC.
LAURENTI: For the Rome Treaty later. During the [second] Clinton Administration.
INTERVIEWER: But he was already engaged.
LAURENTI: And that was something that I had been working on too. Because we were responding to current issues on the ICC. Having established my unwanted niches. One of the few people who knew anything about UN dues and assessment and all that. I was drafted into doing a paper on ways to finance the prospective International Criminal Court.
INTERVIEWER: Apparently they are working on waiver now in Congress to get the US to give some money to the ICC. The ICC is desperate for money.
LAURENTI: Right. And now the US has been merrily going along in helping to commission the ICC to do investigations. We should find some way of giving it some money.
In that regard just mention it in passing, John Washburn’s efforts with the Americans for the International Criminal Court were closely tied to the UNA for a number years.
LAURENTI: Yes, he was there when I [Leimbach] left. He has his group up there within the Human Rights Institute at Columbia. But UNF was not at all interested in acquiring AMICC as part of the package. Much too controversial for their …
INTERVIEWER: Say that again?
LAURENTI: When UNF decided to acquire the assets of UNA they were not at all interested in acquiring AMICC, John Washburn’s group, which was John Washburn and Matthew Heaphy. Their work was too controversial. Because the US is not a party to the treaty and there are a lot of controversy around the ICC in certain political circles in the US and that is just not some palatable for the UN Foundation.
INTERVIEWER: When the UN Foundation was absorbing the UNA they picked and chose departments?
LAURENTI: Definitely. They interviewed each of us as a group and individually.
INTERVIEWER: You were already out by this time, this was 2007.
LAURENTI: No, I was on the Board.
INTERVIEWER: No, this was 2010.
LAURENTI: In terms of the merger I was still on the Chapters Regional Committee of Chapters and Divisions, for a year and a half after the merger. Different setting and clearly UNF is looking to UNA to avoid controversial issues, it’s a tough enough slog in their view to just get the dues paid each year. There remains a hard nut of opposition that look for any pretext to go after the rationale for the institution.
INTERVIEWER: That’s their big mode … is to get those dues paid.
LAURENTI: They are much more interested in the economic and social issues than they are in the political and security issues. There is a tension here because the public has been trained, by and large, by the media to see relevance in the political headlines of the day. So if you solve a problem, a political problem or end a war, then you are in the papers. Stopping malaria is going to be maybe on page 2 or 3 of the Science Times section. It tends to not get the political visibility. Particularly for UNF’s exquisitely attuned political antenna, those kinds of accomplishments do not move passions on Capitol Hill the way the political ones do.
INTERVIEWER: Even though the political ones tend to be more controversial.
LAURENTI: Exactly. So that’s why strategic choice is pretty much to go with the economic and social concerns on which you tend to have much broader agreement and stay away from the political and security ones. So there was panic when you had membership chapters insisting we have to say something about ‘Obama’s going to go to war with Syria’ because they didn’t want to touch it. This was like the moment on Iran several years ago when Bill was trying to squelch UNA from taking position because it got in the way of his high level approaches; the Iran Project was under way, but the Bush Administration was all but threatening bombing Iran in 2006.
I’m sorry, it’s all digression.
INTERVIEWER: No, this is also good because the idea of the division between the chapters on one side and the UN Foundation on another. But, I do want to back up and go back to ‘Stronger Hand’ and the evolution of UN Election Monitoring. Want to walk us through that? How it started?
LAURENTI: Sure. In this wide range of reports ‘Stronger Hand’, which we even presented to the newly installed Vice President of the United States in early February of 1989. Interestingly he did react to the Afghanistan recommendations. So we had these 8 issues and in the Human Right’s one we thought that creating a UN Elections Commission, that is what we had proposed that was in the Human Right’s basket in that report, was one that was interesting and could make a difference and maybe the time was becoming ripe. Glasnost, Perestroika, you had another mood evidently on the Soviet Bloc side of the ‘Great Divide’. So as I say when we presented this report to Pickering, he picked up on that as something he would try to work through the bureaucracy in the US. And indeed Bush, the next year, recommended a UN election unit in his speech to the GA. So I think it’s 1990. So that point it was after the replacement of all of the calcified communist regimes by more or less elected ones throughout Eastern Europe.
INTERVIEWER: That’s where it fit in so well. With democracy.
LAURENTI: Right, but what had actually been the most suspicious of Western style democratic elections, that bloc now had flipped entirely on it. We also tried to then, quote, ‘market it’ to some other delegations. I remember the Mexican Deputy Perm Rep being very skeptical that her government, which had always been quite jealous of guarding state sovereignty. It took a fair amount of hand holding to overcome objections there. That is one of the little jewels we point to of a membership connection to a policy process that actually generated a new idea that has now become an integral part of the UN’s work in peace and security.
INTERVIEWER: What was the membership’s role precisely?
LAURENTI: We like to say it was the Membership Report. This was the Global Policy Project Report.
INTERVIEWER: So there was a lot of consulting and interaction with the members?
LAURENTI: We would have maybe a dozen chapters saying ‘Yes, we think this should be an UN Elections unit.’ So that was requisite blessing or the ‘imprimatur’ to allow us to included in the report. Of course it was a staff judgment, ‘what of all the many recommendations in the report are the ones that might have the strongest legs?’ and that clearly was one of them.
INTERVIEWER: Did the governments take this to the UN or did you take it to the UN? Did you try to help devise the Election Monitoring Service within the Secretariat?
LAURENTI: No. Once Bush had made a proposal, and now it had entered the political arena, our role was talking to some delegations where we had some reasonable contacts where there was doubt about it. The actual structuring is now in the hands of the people who are doing it. We had only offered the germ of the idea. We didn’t have a readymade formula. Now that’s in contrast to the effort we had made on the UN Management and Decision Making project where you had very specific recommendations. Those we peddled or tried to peddle to quite a few delegations. That was my first meeting with Sergey Lavrov.
Lavrov, I believe, has a very genuine commitment to the UN. Yes, he has a very Russian view of strict constructionist interpretation of the Charter.
INTERVIEWER: That whole collective aspect? What is it about the UN that he supports?
LAURENTI: Well remember that he spent the better part of his career here before being made Foreign Minister. And this, as you may have already heard, he was trying to become a USG. He was actively looking at that to in order to stay here, it is said, when the President asked him to become Foreign Minister.
INTERVIEWER: It’s not unusual. It’s not like the US where you have this sort of strange situation where the US ambassador is not always a stepping stone to something bigger. It’s very common for UN ambassadors to end up as Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State.
LAURENTI: This is an interesting sign of the UN, in spite of itself, having reemerged as a major player for American foreign policy — that since the ‘90s UN ambassadors can expect to be seriously considered to be Secretary of State if they are part of a political team. So Madeline [Albright] did it. [Richard] Holbrooke desperately wanted it. Had Mrs. Clinton not been upended by Obama he was going to be Secretary of State. He was expecting it sooner, but with President Gore. Bolton clearly had his eyes on Secretary of State job through the New York mission.
INTERVIEWER: Backing up. For the Election Monitoring. Who was it? Was it a person who guided this through the UN Secretariat?
LAURENTI: We were not part of that. So once you had the political will to, remember Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar was never one to get out in front of the member states. He’s much underrated. He was a very subtle maneuverer of things. It is to Pérez de Cuéllar that we must give credit for the emergence of the P5 as a working kind of directorate working within the Security Council since they had never meet as ‘the 5’ before at the Perm Rep level. It was he that convened the 5 in the spring of ‘87 to tell them ‘this war between Iran and Iraq is a scandal. Not only in humanitarian terms, but to the UN Security Council and to your reputation and your authority. It has to be shut down.’ They had to get a special State Department waiver because US position had always been ‘the Secretary General does not convene the US Perm Rep with the Soviet Perm Rep. That’s something we agree to between ourselves’–US and Soviets. But they accepted his initiative and then they discovered that they liked it. Now the P5 regularly meet at the highest level. And that’s not UNA.
INTERVIEWER: You seem to have written half of this stuff that came out of UNA during those years. So I have a few questions about publications. Again huge gaps. For instance, this one…
LAURENTI: This was the [Security Council enforcement] project that Ed had gotten money for when the boom was dropped on him. So he was going to be allowed to work as the Director for this project, as his kind of easing out of UNA. I had commissioned this paper and I commissioned a couple of the others in that series.
INTERVIEWER: Number 4 in the series is the only one I could find.
LAURENTI: Well there is one on International Sanctions, which I was a co-author with I don’t remember who. There’s another by Ettore Greco in the series, from I.A.I. in Rome, on the delegated operations that were being pioneered in the mid-‘90s to avoid the Security Council — I should say, delegated by the Security Council to avoid them being peacekeeping assessed operations.
INTERVIEWER: So, Coalition of the Willing.
LAURENTI: In Georgia, that was Russia, which is controversial. And the Italian one in Albania. The Italians didn’t want to do it. They were happy to lead a UN operation and the Americans said ‘No way.’ The French said you have to have Chapter 7 in the authorizing resolution, which they didn’t want.
Now I’ll have to find the list.
INTERVIEWER: But did they exist?
LAURENTI: There should be in each volume a list of them, but I have some of them at home.
INTERVIEWER: The occasional papers that you collected and wrote does list what the previous ones were. But it’s not there.
LAURENTI: You have to get the last one.
INTERVIEWER: I don’t know if I have the last one. I don’t when they ended. Like here says ‘ I don’t know about 1 2 3, but I know about 4. Was there a 5?
LAURENTI: As a follow to our meeting. I’d like to think I will remember this on my own, but if you could send me an email ‘just saying these are things that you said you would look up.’
INTERVIEWER: So you might have this material at home?
LAURENTI: I have some of these papers. I might have the whole series.
INTERVIEWER: You know who organized them? Bonny Roundtree. The HR woman. The Departments were supposed to organize them, but at that point nobody wanted to do anything.
INTERVIEWER: So when we meet again, I do want to talk to you about polling. Because you wrote a report in 1992 and that was the only year.
LAURENTI: No, we did polling again in 97-98.
INTERVIEWER: UNA did polling? They hired somebody to do the polling? You wrote the questions?
LAURENTI: We worked with the pollsters to write the questions. Then did the analysis and interpretation. The last one we did was with the newly created UN Foundation. They were skeptical. This was very much Tim Wirth-driven. He would allow UNA to get the money to do this, but he figured you don’t want a group that is UN identified. What credibility would it have? So they had their [Republican-aligned] pollster, Wirthlin, do it, but we then worked with the data to do the distillation and did some report. It also traced from the prior polling we had done. So we had done that periodically. So it wasn’t only one off.
INTERVIEWER: It was the only one that I found. So in ‘92…
LAURENTI: In your email remind me to copy out the publications sections of my CV. Those that deal with anything to come out or though UNA.
INTERVIEWER: So one big conceptual question. And I’m still doing a lot of research. So I’ve got holes in my knowledge; particularly in the ‘60s. I’ve read very little material for the 60s. I’m developing this overall organizing principal of the history of the UNA and I just wanted to throw this out at you. Because you did touch on this at the beginning. That in the beginning, in the ‘40s into the ‘50s and even into the ‘60s, the primary purpose/role of UNA was the promotion of the United Nations and build support for the UNA in US public opinion. Is that correct?
INTERVIEWER: And then, probably starting in ‘68 the time of the beginning of the Soviet Parallel Studies, UNA started reaching out to implement or at least make recommendations for broader foreign policy recommendations. Dealing with the Soviet Union and going through to the UN Election Monitoring … and all of this. It kind of started in ‘68, that UNA expanded its brief to include foreign policy issues and not simply US public opinion. Is that a fair assessment?
LAURENTI: I don’t know. That is, I don’t know when the substantive content began to appear. I think there was a substantive dimension from the start in some ways. After all, at the San Francisco conference with Eichelberger, you already had the embryo of an association for the UN. There had been an association for the League of Nations in the inter-war period. I think Clark Eichelberger had been involved in that.
INTERVIEWER: What I am saying is that, UNA or its alliterations reason for being at the beginning was to build US public support for the United Nations and to support the United Nations. It did, UNA, did not engage in the kind of policy put forward …
LAURENTI: Right because the huge accomplishment of the 1945 Charter was something in many ways so way ahead of where public opinion or the public’s head was at. The war had not so dramatically altered American’s sense of their separateness. Certainly winning that global war encouraged people to think now it might have been imperial designs as much as internationalist designs. But look at the polling within 2 or 3 years after the war. Public support for these kinds of things is already beginning to recede and Eisenhower had a huge problem with the Bricker Amendment and other elements of his own party trying to role back the notion of being part of a global organization.
INTERVIEWER: So then UNA’s role as promoter of the UN was really just to ensure peace? There was not this foreign policy element. To have a say.
LAURENTI: That’s right. That is what the whole promise of which the UN was sold to the American public was ‘this is what you need in order to avoid having wars like the two giant ones we have just been through.’ Of course in that sense it was somewhat over sold.