Defense: Shots in the Dark

A "skunk," in Navy parlance, is any unidentified ship that pops up on a radarscope. Last week a bad odor lingered over four such radar contacts. They were the blips that appeared in the Tonkin Gulf a fortnight ago and drew the fire of two patrolling U.S. destroyers—and, since then, the fire of innumerable Republican sharpshooters. Were the skunks really North Vietnamese torpedo boats or gunboats, as the destroyer captains believed? If so, were they really indulging in "hostile" behavior—preparing to attack U.S. vessels as they had on two earlier occasions? What...

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