This exposé certainly did nothing to help the reputation of the United Nations. As Brian Urquhart, who served as undersecretary‐ general during the 1970s, has written: "Waldheim, emerging as a living lie, has done immense damage not only to his own country but to the United Nations and those who have devoted, and in some cases sacrificed, their lives for it....The Waldheim episode is above all an indictment of the way in which governments, and especially the great powers, select the world's leading international civil servants." 35
The United States not only was one of those great powers, but through two administrations ( Nixon's and Carter's) had worked, sometimes very closely and sympathetically, with Waldheim. Indeed, this tarnished public servant, carrying enormously damaging baggage, had, a disapproving Urquhart has said, performed "rather better" than he had anticipated. 36
The year of Nixon's election to the presidency was possibly the most traumatic in the postwar era. It began in January with the Tet lunar new year holiday, when the Vietcong enemy simultaneously attacked the major cities of South Vietnam, infiltrating even the American embassy in Saigon. Even if, as defenders of Johnson's Vietnam policy argued, the offensive was a desperate gamble on the part of the Vietcong, and ultimately a military loss, it represented a public relations disaster for policy-makers wishing to carry the war forward. For some years the opposition to the war had increased among Americans, and Tet seemed the last straw to the growing number of doubters.
Within just over a month, the antiwar Democratic candidate Eugene McCarthy challenged the president in the first primary of the campaign season, in New Hampshire. McCarthy embarrassed the president by winning a surprising 42 percent of the vote. On the last day of March, Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection, throwing the Democratic Party into disarray, as both Senator Robert Kennedy and Vice President Hubert Humphrey now entered the race.____________________