seled, “Follow your duty as you are able practically toninterpret it, don’t foolishly endanger your pilots, do whatnyou think is best, improvise with confidence, and benprepared to stand accountable for your actions.”nSo it was on that most chaotic night of all nights of thosenyears, August 4th, 1964, when Washington decided to go tonwar officially. Just before midnight, I had been the eyewitnessn(with the best seat in the house) to an action that hadnbeen reported as an attack by North Vietnamese PT boatsnagainst the American destroyers Maddox and Joy. It was innfact a false alarm brought about by the destroyers’ phantomnradar contacts and faulty sonar operation on a very dark,nhumid, and stormy night. This was realized during thenevent by the boss of the destroyers at the scene, and by me,nthe boss of the airplanes overhead. Corrective messagesnwere sent instantly to Washington: “No PT boats.”nA few hours later, I was awakened to organize, brief, andnlead the first air strike against North Vietnam, a reprisal fornwhat I knew to be the false alarm. It was true that I hadnhelped repulse an actual attack three days before and that Inthought it likely that another real one would occur in thenfuture. But what to do, knowing that hours before Washingtonnhad received the false-alarm messages and that it wouldnbe none other than I who would be launching a war undernfalse pretenses.nI remember sitting on the side of my shipboard bed, allnalone in those predawn minutes, fully conscious of the factnthat history was taking a major turn, and that it was I,nJimmy Stockdale, who happened to be in the Ferris-wheelnseat that was just coming over the top and starting itsndescent. I remember two thoughts of those minutes. Thenfirst was a pledge: that this was an instant that I was going tontell my grandchildren about some day. I was living throughna history lesson that would be important to future generations.nThe second was a reflection: I thought about Rhinelandernand “The Problems of Good and Evil” and Epictetusnand how prophetic it had been that we had all comentogether those very few years before. Probably nobody hadnever tested Rhinelander’s course as I was likely to test it innnot only the hours ahead, but the years ahead. I knew wenwere stepping into a quagmire. There was no question ofngetting the truth of that night out: that truth had been outnfor hours. I was sure that there was nothing I could do tonstop the “reprisal” juggernaut pouring out of Washington.nMy course was clear: to play well the part I had been given.nThe Author had cast me in a lead role of a Greek tragedy.nWho else to lead my pilots into the heavy flak of the city ofnVihn and blow the North Vietnamese oil storage tanks offnthe map?nRemember that you are an actor in a drama ofnsuch sort as the Author chooses—if short, then inna short one; if long, then in a long one. If it be hisnpleasure that you should enact a poor man, or ancripple, or a ruler, or a private citizen, see that younact it well. For this is your business—to act wellnthe given part, but to choose it belongs to another.nSo much for Stoicism as a guide to where one begins andnwhere one leaves off in the world of free will. I now takenleave of that relatively happy place, stale and jaded thoughnit may have become in those years, and shift to the muchnworse circumstances of the world of compulsion, specificallynto that paradigm of a house of compulsion, a politicalnprison. There I found Stoicism an even more perfect fit.nI entered that political prison just a littie over a year afternI blew those tanks off the map. (The Tonkin Golf Resolutionnhad been passed by the Congress two days later, andnthe air war in North Vietnam was on.) It was on Septembern9, 1965, after several hundred bombing missions in thatnwar (and just three years after I left graduate school), thatnmy airplane was finally shot out of the sky. I arrived at thenold French dungeon called Hoa Lo (“Fiery Furnace”)nPrison in Hanoi, as a stretcher case, three days later.nI identify Hoa Lo as a political prison rather than an”POW camp,” not just because of its construction (anhoneycomb of tiny cells, each with a cement-slab bed, legnirons at its foot, a food chute above the irons, a toilet bucketnbeside, and a “rat hole” to the outside drainage ditch fornflushing), but because of its purposes and the regime of lifeninside fashioned to achieve those purposes.nPolitical prisons are places where people are sent to benused or to have their minds changed or both. They are notnto be confused with penitentiaries or prison camps, wherenpeople are locked up to preserve the public peace or payntheir debts to society. Littie attention is given to terms ofnconfinement or time schedules. They are institutions devotednonly to the discrediting of the inmates’ causes; when allnthe prisoner’s juices have been squeezed out, when hisnforced confession of crimes (usually never committed) arenjudged to be as convincing as they can be made to be, he isnusually free to go. (It’s not generally known, but AmericansnnnMARCH 1987 /13n