The World: The Dikes: Battered by Floods or Bombs?

FOR weeks a controversy has raged between Washington and Hanoi over whether U.S. planes are intentionally bombing the intricate flood-control system of North Viet Nam's Red River Delta. Hanoi charges that some dikes have been bombed; Washington admits only that a few dikes located near military targets may have been damaged.

North Viet Nam's dikes are a massive, 2,500-mile-long network of earthen dams with sluice gates, more like the flood-control system of The Netherlands than anything else in Asia. They protect not only the agricultural economy of North Viet Nam but also the lives of 15 million people who live in the...

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