The War: Critical Season

Optimism is a sturdy soldier, frequently able to survive even against overwhelming odds. Last week in Viet Nam it joined the list of casualties. Not since the early months of 1965, when the Communists were on the verge of overrunning South Viet Nam just before the U.S. buildup, had the mood and prospects of the allies looked so totally grim.

At the uppermost levels of the Administration and the Pentagon, where optimism has been endemic from the war's earliest days, officials were still trying to find something comforting in the recent Communist Tet offensive despite all of the evidence to the...

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