Richard Nixon later brought into being.nThe irony of all this, insofar as my story goes, is not sonmuch the injustice of it all, as the self-inflicted wound ournleaders put on us by staking out at the outset greatnprecautions against arousing the Chinese tiger to act as it didnin Korea — to enter the fray and directly attack the Americannforces. Totally ignoring the effects of the political eventnof the era, before perestroika, the Sino-Soviet split, Americanstuck to pre-split logic. Cold War imperatives, and nonsensicallyngave up the Hanoi bombing option as of 1964 and inndoing so lost the whole ball game.nAs my reprise of my “Bull’s Eye of Disaster” article I’llnsimply say that its main thrust was that contrary to the viewnthat some insist on grinding into the history books — i.e.,nthat our Vietnam experience was a one-of-a-kind mixup innwhich our civilian and military leaders misjudged the naturenof the problem, and once in, sank into an unexpectednquagmire that was beyond almost anybody’s practical control—nthe fact was that few military men who were makingnpolicy before our troops started in had any doubt in theirnminds that the U.S. Army moving into South Vietnam wasna very bad idea. The official Joint Chiefs of Staff positionnflatly opposed the idea of American ground troops beingndeployed into the jungles of Southeast Asia. In theirnNovember 1964 rebuttal, when they were being pressurednto send them there anyway, their statement was as follows:n”Instead of working to buttress the South Vietnamesengovernment in order to defend itself, the United Statesnshould take stern actions against North Vietnam to makenthat defense needless.”nThough the “best and the brightest”nof the Vietnam buildup years leftnno evidence that they saw anything outnthere but one big monolithic communistnmenace, even I, insignificant fighternpilot Jim Stockdale, knew better.nWhat they had in mind was precisely what was successfullyndone nine years later — fifty-eight thousand deadnAmerican bodies later: seal off all transportation of goodsninto or out of Hanoi by seriously, heavily, for hours at antime, bombing their dock and rail yards and mining theirnharbors, particulariy that of their major port city of Haiphong.nI was in Hanoi when that bombing finally startednand I heard that city — which for years had generated ancarnival atmosphere with loudspeaker music in the streetsnbetween sporadic tactical (small planes, quick strike) raids —ngo dead silent. And frequently in those few days I wasneyeball to eyeball with those North Vietnamese authoritiesnwhose habits and personalities I had studied closely throughoutnseven and a half years as their prisoner. In that time theynlost heart, evincing fright, despair, even solicitousness. Thenbombardment was accurate and the casualties light (dozensnrather than the thousands per day common in World WarnII). But implicit in the bombardment’s persistence andn24/CHRONICLESnnnpower (the earth shook and the plaster rained down innbuildings five miles from the impact areas), was the inevitabilitynof its prevailing. Anyone there knew that but fornAmerican humane intentions, the bombsight reticles couldnbe skewed a few degrees and everybody in that city would bendead by sunrise. That realization broke the will of angovernment, and that’s what war is all about. In only 11ndays, the bombs stopped, and we shouted to one another:n”Pack, we’re going home.” There was no question that wenhad witnessed a surrender. And not a question in anybody’snmind that the same thing could have been accomplished innany II-day period in the previous nine years.nWhy did we send troops in, when heavy B-52 bombingnof Hanoi could have won the whole ball game in anfew days? It was the only approach left after “the best andnthe brightest” had set their conditions back in those crucialndays of 1964: no bombing of Hanoi/Haiphong area, nonharbors mined, no reserves called up, yet victory before thenAmerican elections of 1968.nSo we were “in” with the ground troops, on LBJ’s ordersnand the concurrence of the “Wise Men,” but winning wasnanother thing. McNamara kept score on that with hisnproduction-line number crunching efficiency. He came upnwith what he called the “crossover point” as the key variablenof his figuring, and the crossover point was that point in timenwhen our killing rate started exceeding the enemy infiltrationnrate. He had it figured out that this crossover had to benaccomplished by such-and-such a date or the war would spillnover into the American elections of 1968, yet anothern”no-no” political restriction that was part of the “best andnbrightest” restriction package. To check where he was on thencrossover point problem, he assigned intelligence forces tonsubmit enemy troop counts in South Vietnam every sonoften. He would bang these numbers against his “bodyncounts” and see “how it was going” on his “howgozit”ncurves. It was a grim business, and the more he got into it,nthe more his figures showed we were losing by the indices henhad invented. (Those pesky Soviets were outfitting newnsoldiers up north faster than we could kill them downnsouth.)nWell, you know the story. One sad fallout was that afternmonths of badgering the Army to get more and more troopsninto the south to make his “howgozit” curves turn up towardnpaper victory, he privately and very early — Parker saysnOctober 1966, McNamara’s depositions for Westmoreland’sntrial of CBS show late ’65—wrote the war off as anloss. Think of all those who went over and died after his warnmachine had canceled out all plans for victory. But LBJ’snofficial point of despair had to await the blessing of then”Wise Men” again. They met in March of 1968, and thensame ones that had said “get in” in July 1965 now said “getnout.” At their afternoon session, Acheson tried to blame thengetting in as well as the losing on the Armed Forces. Thenchairman of the Joint Chiefs said his group had not onlynrecommended against the Army going into South Vietnamnbut had never been polled to check agreement with contrarynorders to do so from above. Bad Blood. Bad War. Bad Ideanto seek advice from has-beens — particularly when they hadnbecome famous using assumptions that no longer apply.nMy friend Bill Crowe — sworn into the Navy at my siden