A Dangerous Place (Moynihan)

“He describes this as ‘a book about ideas,’ but it is more than that.  It is a book about the people who largely dominate and control the world we live in.  It is no wonder he can truthfully call it ‘A Dangerous Place.'” (Allen Drury)

For eight months in 1975 and 1976, Daniel Patrick Moynihan served the United States as its Ambassador to the United Nations.  During a term of almost unprecedented controversy, editorial debate, and front-page headlines, he alerted both his country and the international forum to new forms of assault upon the idea of human rights, which a new majority in the United Nations was trying to distort and which the developed democracies of the West were unwilling to defend.  At issue were the principles that underlie all political freedom and are basic to the United Nations itself.

This fiery and dramatic book is Moynihan’s testimony of those eventful days.  He begins by telling of his varied service in both domestic and foreign posts under four Presidents.  He treats briefly of his two-year ambassadorship to India and what he learned and wrote there.  He unfolds the story behind his appointment to the United Nations, and recounts his strategies in the special and regular sessions of the 1975 General Assembly.  He tells of the United States’ proposal for amnesty for all political prisoners; of his embattled service on the Security Council in 1976 during the Angolan incursion and the fight over seating the Palestinian Liberation Organization; of his agreements and differences with Henry Kissinger.

In the process, Moynihan traces the growth of Communist influence in the U.N. and shows how propaganda excited the nations of the Third World to employ the language of freedom in the interests of its suppression.  He evokes dramatic scenes in Geneva, Washington, and New York, involving participants such as Jacob Malik, Chaim Herzog, Idi Amin, Hubert Humphrey, Ivor Richard, Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, and others.

In this riveting account of how human rights emerged as a fresh issue in American foreign policy, every page carries the author’s awareness of the urgency of his mission – “I had learned that the world is a dangerous place, and that not everyone knows this.”

Educated at the City College of New York, Tufts University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the London School of Economics, Daniel Patrick Moynihan served in the cabinet or subcabinet of four Presidents.  He was a Professor of Government at Harvard University, and represented New York in the United States Senate from 1977 to 2000.  He was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.

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