Foreign News: The Doomed City

For 90 minutes on Bastille Day last week, the French paraded 10,000 troops through the streets of Hanoi. Tank-led paratroopers, Foreign Legionnaires, red-capped Senegalese and elite Vietnamese outfits marched smartly past General René Cogny, while 15 French paratroopers jumped spectacularly from a low-flying C-47 into a lake in the center of town. It was a brave affair, perhaps the biggest military display the French had staged in their 70 years in Hanoi; yet its flamboyance could not obscure the drab reality: Hanoi (pop. 600,000) was doomed.

There was still no panic in the city, no discernible excitement around its shifting defense perimeter:...

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