AMERICAN NOTES: Cold Christmas

Viet Nam is the great destroyer of hope. In the years when the conflict was mostly military, "the light at the end of the tunnel" became a ghastly cliche of hope aroused and dashed over and over again. Now that the conflict is largely diplomatic, is the light at the end of the conference table becoming equally elusive? The fever chart tracing U.S. expectations of success in Viet Nam, it has been said, has a recurrent sawtooth shape: an accelerating rise of optimism just before an abrupt decline.

The U.S. still has much...

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