World: Through a Glass, Darkly

Journalists and diplomats trying to make sense of it were already calling China's invasion of Viet Nam the "Great Inscrutable War." All things considered, it was probably the most bedeviling and worst-reported major conflict in recent history. The result: misinformation (mostly on casualty figures), unbridled speculation and wild surmise. Items:

¶On the third day of the invasion, it was falsely reported that the Chinese forces were already preparing to pull back.

¶On the sixth day, Chinese troops were erroneously said to have captured the key provincial capital of Lang Son.

¶On the seventh...

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