history will vindicate our intuition.nIn a section of a recent New YorknTimes Sunday Magazine, Mr. Middletonnelaborated on why the Vietnam Warnwent the way it did and why it left a lastingnand ominous scar on the collectivenconsciousness of the entire professionalnAmerican military. The article consists ofnlots of well-measured, calm, evenhanded,nobjective, introspective observations,nresponsible reporting andnmature conclusions—but there is notnone word of overwhelmingly evident,naccessible-to-anyone, simple truth.nWhat Mr. Middleton fascinatingly managesnnot to mention in his thorough examinationnof the military’s post-Vietnamnstate of mind is the noun or adjectiven”liberal.”nHe thoroughly inspects the feelings ofnthe middle-aged officers’ cadre. He detectsnmoods of bitterness, disappointment,nglum letdown. Men of arms whonserved in Vietnam, and who now occupynsignificant positions within the Armynstructure, speak of the squalid conduct ofnthe war, which was determined by messynpolitical criteria and manipulated by ineptnpoliticians; they feel abused by thenpolitical operators who cashed in on society’snignorance by preaching the unwinnabilitynof a war which, to the experts,nseemed not only winnable but almostnwon at the end of the Tet Offensive; theyncomplain of the indifference, often hideousnhostility, which met the returningncombatants, as if it were the soldiers’nfault that America had lost a war for thenfirst time in history. He is fair enough tonmention the discord, even open conflict,nbetween the media and the armednforces, but he gravely and resolutely infersnthat the press’s only impropriety wasnthat it did not “understand” the militaryneffort and had too much freedom in itsnreporting of that effort.nWe think that Mr. Middleton is—hisnstature as a military specialist notwithstanding—appallinglyndishonest. Peoplenwho “did in” that war and who laternhissed at the returning veterans werenAmerican liberals of all shades and hues.nIronically, it was liberal Presidents whonbegan and escalated that war, whilenother liberals decided that it was an historicnoccurrence which offended theirnideological values. Some of the latter feltnthat any war was an immoral business pernse; others believed that it was an expressionnof America’s greed and megalomania,nproof of the bankruptcy and corruptionnof the American idea of freedomn(which they had scorned for most of thencentury in the first place). The assumptionnthat, in this instance, Americanequaled an evil whose only purpose wasnto annihilate innocent people was nonlonger simple defeatism: it made thenAmerican liberal the objective ally ofnthose who were killing the American soldier;nit turned him into an unwitting toolnof Moscow, which had labored for an entirendecade to involve America in annAsian war. Moscow’s strategy did notnwork in Korea, where America achievednits military objective, but it was splendidlynorchestrated in Indochina, wherenMoscow’s most beloved theater of war—na divided nation—offered another opportunity.nMoscow’s long-range plannwas not so much to defeat America, butnto rob it of its post-World War II prestige:nthis, once achieved, would makenSoviet territorial gains easy, as the 1970’snhave shown. But Mr. Middleton, a collectornof strategic lore, does not mentionnthis aspect of the war, although we suspectnit must have been very much on thenminds of the men he interviewed.nThe American press, during the 60’snthoroughly permeated by liberal sentiments,nis, in our view, even more culpablenthan the rank-and-file American liberal.nVietnam was America’s first uncensorednwar, and the press apparentlynnndecided to capitalize on this circumstance.nThe best method seemed to benone of working out an ideological anglenand then enforcing it with all the powernof the print and electronic media. Assumingnthat their liberal bias was both annobler and more profitable approach,nthe media distorted, obfuscated, falsifiednand lied about the war in Asia andnabout its ramifications at home; withntotalitarian single-mindedness, theynconcealed any support for the war andnhammered the magnitude of the protestnmovement into the nation’s consciousness.nThe daily televised supreme consciencenof America with a clipped moustachenlied not so much with words andnselective information as by the prefabricatednexpression on his face. Beneathnthe knuckle of the doctored news, thenwar effort collapsed—but, oddlynenough, none of Mr. Middleton’s armynspokesmen mentions this aspect of thosenyears. Neither does Mr. Middleton—nafter all, he has spent a lifetime in thenservices of the liberal Times, whose correspondentsnwere skillful enough to mrnnone My Lai into a national hysteria of unredeemablenguilt, while remaining completelynoblivious to countless communistnMy Lai’s and even worse horrors until thenboat people’s bodies began to float in thenChina Sea.nAfter World War I, the German Armynevolved a theory of the Dolchstoss (beingnknifed in the back by pacifists and socialndemocrats) as the only reason for Germany’sndebacle. In 19I8 there was onlynmeager proof to sustain that theory, butnit does seem applicable to the Americanndefeat in Asia—especially now, afternwhat the American liberal press did tonthe American armed forces during then60’s and 70’s. But neither Mr. Middletonnnor his conversants even vaguely suggestnsuch an interpretation. This saysnsornething: about the army men, thatnthey are good and true sons of this democraticnand pluralistic society; about Mr.nMiddleton (who certainly must be familiarnwith the term Dolchstoss), that he isneither not very decent or a not-very-keennanalyst. DnMay/Jttnel98Sn