Bending with the Winds: Kurt Waldheim and the United Nations

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How could a man with a past mired in Nazi membership and alleged involvement in war crimes become Secretary General of the United Nations, an organization dedicated not only to the maintenance of peace but also to the preservation and advancement of human rights? Bending with the Winds is the result of Seymour Maxwell Finger's and Arnold A. Saltzman's exploration of that question. Their analysis is based on a review of hundreds of confidential telegrams between the United States and its mission to the United Nations and more than one hundred interviews with diplomats from Waldheim's period of service as Secretary General, including Kurt Waldheim himself. A large part of this volume is an in-depth study of Waldheim's performance as Secretary General, an aspect of his life that has previously been neglected. Finger and Saltzman first probe the powers of that office, as well as its limitations, through a brief historical analysis of the actions of the five Secretaries General. This provides a basis for evaluating Waldheim's performance and the political context in which he performed. Emphasis is placed on Waldheim's pliability, his tendency to bend with the wind. This broad discussion leads to a search for a procedure of choosing a Secretary General that will produce the kind of leadership required for a revitalized United Nations. This book will certainly find a place on the shelves of readers interested in the United Nations or the Waldheim affair.