Even as he fairly boasted that the reporters "forced the withdrawal of American power from Vietnam," James Reston of the New York Times expressed a note of apprehension. The reporters also, Reston wrote, "are now being blamed for the defeat of American policy and power in Indochina." 1
Slaughter on a horrific scale in Cambodia belied journalistic assurances that no "bloodbath" would follow a Communist victory in Indochina. Scarcely lower on the scale of horror were unending tales of mass tragedy as tens of thousands of South Vietnamese chose the perils of the South China Sea and of robbery, rape, and murder at the hands of pirates over life under Communist rule.
American journalism became more and more uncomfortable with the exultation of such as Reston and Small over the U.S. and South Vietnamese defeat.
It found a most unlikely savior.
I first met Harry Summers when he was serving as a lieutenant colonel on the Army staff in the Pentagon and I was serving with that staff as a Reserve officer. I liked and, in the main, respected him.
An infantry combat veteran of Korea and Vietnam, Summers had returned as a staff officer during the last days of the Vietnam debacle and had dealt directly with North Vietnamese army counterparts in the sporadic "peace" negotiations. I found him to be intelligent and articulate, but tinged with the old Pentagon staff officer's greatest weakness -- a tendency to tell the boss what he wants to hear. Our paths were to cross on other grounds.
In November 1978, General Walter T. Kerwin, Jr., then vice chief of staff of the Army, had ordered that a study be done to find out what went wrong in Vietnam. 2 The strictly historical aspects of the study were contracted to