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Remembering Korea, Understanding Vietnam

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The fiftieth anniversary last week of the publication of The Pentagon Papers led me to think back on what I thought I knew about the US war in Vietnam and when I thought that I knew it. I was surprised at how vigorously stories of the Korean War bubbled up in my memory. I was 22 when I first visited Saigon, in 1966. I was serving at the time on an aircraft carrier, the USS Kearsarge, then steaming around the Tonkin Gulf.  I flew down for a week, ostensibly seeking to get the ship’s name in the papers; my private