World: What Went Wrong on the Way to Paris

THERE was an almost Kiplingesque, never-the-twain-shall-meet quality in the difficulties between South Viet Nam and the U.S. over the Paris peace talks. Most experts seem agreed that genuine misunderstanding was involved and that both sides are sincere in the belief that their version of events is correct.

Yet there remains the uncomfortable thought that both Washington and Saigon may have indulged in deliberate misunderstandings—the U.S. motivated by its desire to talk substantive peace as quickly as possible, South Viet Nam by its reluctance to sit down with the Communists. The episode contains some lessons, for such conflicts will occur again if and...

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