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Vietnam War

January 06, 1986

I must take issue with Charles William Maynes (Opinion, Dec. 29). He wrote, "A small nation, Vietnam, defeated the United States on the battlefield."

This is nonsense, and his attempt to rewrite history is transparent and despicable. Vietnam did not defeat the United States on the battlefield. Not once in 10 years of fire and maneuver, atrocity and sabotage, did North Vietnam's forces achieve a decisive military victory against those of the United States. Not even during Tet in 1968. Not once. Not ever.

U.S. forces soundly beat the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong in virtually every large-scale encounter. The record is quite plain on this. Surely Maynes must know this.

Vietnam did win at the Paris talks what it never won in the field. It won a propaganda war waged on American college campuses and big-city streets, and in the American news media.

Maynes also neglected to mention that nearly all the enormous total of U.S. bombs, artillery shells and other explosive ordinance were dropped on South Vietnam. Our civilian leadership, especially the misguided or misinformed presidential advisers, would not permit American military force to be concentrated on places where it might have crippled North Vietnam's ability to make war. Therefore, the cities of North Vietnam were spared, as were its elaborate agricultural system, and its harbors and docks, filled with Soviet-bloc ships carrying war materiel.

MARVIN J. WOLF

Los Angeles

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