The War: Hanoi's Kind of Escalation

Even before the first U.S. bombing raids on oil depots at Hanoi and Haiphong June 29, North Viet Nam's leaders threatened to stage "war criminal" show trials of captured American airmen. Last week, after a strident propaganda barrage from Hanoi, that threat seemed likely to become reality.

Apart from its eagerness to retaliate for the bombings, Hanoi clearly hoped to use the hostages to buoy its people's morale — a need demonstrated in a much ballyhooed broadcast at week's end in which Ho Chi Minh vowed to fight on "five, ten, 20 years or longer."

American pilots have repeatedly been paraded...