North Viet Nam: Hanoi's Humanitarianism

As abruptly as it had begun, the threat by North Viet Nam to put captured American airmen on trial as "war criminals" was lifted. Last week, in soothing messages, President Ho Chi Minh explained that he would "continue to pursue a humanitarian course" with the downed flyers. "No trial in view," he cabled, in answer to a query from an enterprising CBS newsman.

Why the backdown? Ho apparently realized that by trying and executing the U.S. aviators he would alienate many of the sympathizers he has in the West. It was safe to assume that he was impressed by the...

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