Military Law: What Is a War?

Is the U.S. technically at war in Viet Nam? The question has been raised frequently in courts of law; just as frequently the courts have sidestepped the issue. Now the Court of Military Appeals—three civilian judges appointed by the President—has faced the problem squarely. In a decision reviewable only by the Supreme Court, it has ruled that the U.S. is definitely at war.

The question arose in the case of Army SP4 Clayton Anderson, a 14-year veteran who went AWOL while stationed at Fort Polk, La., in November 1964. Anderson turned himself in on February 10, 1967, and was eventually...

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