But who can forget how quick they were to endorse thisn”engine” of the war that LBJ demanded in the heady timesnof summer 1964. The House of Representatives passed itnunanimously after a total of 40 minutes of discussion. ThenSenate had two diehards and it took 8 hours and 40nminutes—but, as you might know, before a Senate Chambernthat was less than one-third full.nIhave an aside on this. Sentiment rules the world, saidnNapoleon — and those on the scene when importantnevents take place have a good vantage point to see thendegree to which sentiment and image have the final say overnfacts. The excuse for the Tonkin Gulf Resolution was madeninto headlines that read like “North Vietnamese TorpedonBoats Make Midnight Sneak Attack on American Destroyers.”nAs most of you know, I had the best seat in the housento watch that event, and our destroyers were just shooting atnphantom targets — there were no PT boats there. Not anconspiracy, but a hysterical mix-up. I reported that, andnWashington received it prompdy, but we went to warnanyway. Those early headlines, based on Washington’s wordnon what happened, set the tone for the reaction of the wholencountry, and two days later LBJ got his blank check fornwhatever kind of war he wanted—and a magnificent boostnin the popularity polls for his upcoming election. But whennwe pilots who were out there really snickered was when wenread the superimaginative graphic accounts of the sea battlenin the news magazines a week later. If you have oldnNewsweeks, Time magazines, or Life magazines of that time,nlook at the stories, and drawings, and remember that therenwas nothing there but black water and American fire power.nAnd then, contrast that 1964 public reaction to a noneventnto that 1973 reaction to a real event, to a magnificentlynhandled de-arming of our enemy’s capital city, with pinpointnbombing of rail yards, transportation facilities, andnmissile sites, and an all-time low civilian casualty rate. Howndid our Congress react? In the middle of it, one of ournsenators said on NBC TV that it was “the most murderousnaerial bombardment in the history of the world.” Headlinesnscreamed it was a “Christmas bombing” — I was there andnnot one bomb was dropped on Christmas. It was billed as an”holocaust,” a carpet bombing — I was there and not onenbomb was dropped downtown. But by 1973, the countrynhad come to such a state that a vocal minority of our citizensnwho by that time did not want America to win that war werenable to prevent the enforcement of the agreement that thosen11 days of bombings had extracted from the North Vietnamesengovernment.nWhat a mess! High-handed entry into the war, distrust ofnthe JCS, mismanagement of the battle, squandering of thenpublic trust, 58,000 of our soldiers dead with nothing tonshow for it! This could happen again. And we are asked tonclose the books and put the Vietnam War behind us?nSociologist Charies Moskos at Northwestern Universitynpredicts that won’t happen until the last of the generationnthat the old guard mangled are quiet in their graves — in thenyear 2030.nIn those years, and perhaps now in some quarters of ourngovernment, the ideas of “declaration” and “mobilization”nseem to be thought to bring with them the idea of moralnapprobation of the project—whereas the undeclared effort.nespecially one not even “worthy” of national mobilization, isnless official, less real, less demanding of our internalnsympathies. (It’s like when fifty thousand soldiers die in annational effort it’s bad press. When fifty thousand soldiersndie in an undeclared “police action,” it’s just “the breaks.”)nAfter losing out with his “short war” pitch, Army Chief ofnStaff Harold Johnson (a very interesting man with whom Inidentify) made a push for national mobilization, not only fornthe manpower but for the public involvement, the publicncommitment.n(Harold Johnson was an ex-POW of World War 11 whonmade the Bataan Death March, and who described his timenbehind bars as being “in a great laboratory of humannbehavior.” I’ve never heard it better stated. He has beenndescribed as a skeptic, dedicated to integrity, hating absolutes,ndistrustful of easy solutions, dead set against USntroop involvement in Vietnam. He said the Joint Chiefsnwere never asked to vote one way or another before theynwere sent in — the civilians said “go” and they went—andnthus was understandably heard to refer to the Departmentnof Defense as the Department of Deceit.)nAnyway, the key player who turned off General HaroldnnnAUGUST 1989/19n