The War: Sounds and Silence in Paris

For 21 months, through 86 formal sessions and a number of private meetings, the words of the Viet Nam negotiators have filled the conference room. With rare exceptions, the talk has been meaningless exchanges of the unacceptable that amount almost to silence. Even a whisper of potential change in such an atmosphere becomes a hopeful rumble. And hope is rumbling now in Paris.

In the spring of 1969, Washington and Hanoi traded fresh peace formulations that evoked optimism for awhile. That mood crumbled under the weight of Communist intransigence, and the Nixon Administration's...

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