NORTH VIET NAM: Thin Line of Distinction

As the floodwaters have risen in North Viet Nam's Red River, so has the burgeoning controversy over whether the U.S. is deliberately bombing the ancient, intricate, 2,500-mile network of earthen dikes in the delta, where 15 million North Vietnamese peasants live. The U.S. has admitted that some dikes near military targets have been damaged accidentally, but insists that the dikes themselves were never targets for American bombs. Last week the debate took a new twist, raising the question of whether U.S. bombers are dropping delayed-action bombs, which would have the effect of hindering repairs. The answer from Washington: no—and yes.

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