In any case, this ignores the reason that motivated the immense majority of these who opposed the war: that whether the enemy was Communist or not, the United States did not have sufficient vital interests in Vietnam to justify the size and cost of our effort there.
* "The 'domino theory' was ridiculed. As originally articulated by President Eisenhower, it almost immediately came true. Laos and Cambodia fell to Communist insurgents when South Vietnam did. The theory never held, except in the distortions of its opponents, that all Southeast Asia would automatically fall."
This is just plain wrong. Here are some examples of the thinking that led American leaders into the Vietnam morass:
"The loss of any single country [in Southeast Asia] would probably lead to relatively swift submission to or an alignment with communism by the remaining countries of this group.
"Furthermore, an alignment with communism of the rest of Southeast Asia and India, and in the longer term, of the Middle East (with the probable exceptions of at least Pakistan and Turkey) would in all probability progressively follow: Such widespread alignment would endanger the ability and security of Europe."
That's from a National Security Council policy statement, drafted in early 1952.
"The battle against Communism must be joined in Southeast Asia with strength and determination . . . or the United States, inevitably, must surrender the Pacific and take up our defenses on our own shores . . . The island outposts -- Philippines, Japan, Taiwan -- [would] have no security and the vast Pacific becomes a Red Sea."
That's in Vice President Lyndon Johnson's report to John F. Kennedy after Johnson visited Southeast Asia in the spring of 1961.
Nobody advanced the domino theory as applying primarily to Laos and Cambodia, as the article suggests. Since it was meant to explain to our own public and the world why we should intervene in Vietnam, that would have been absurd: We were going to war to protect Laos and Cambodia?
* "The only principle that Vietnam's rulers retain from their day of victory is that they alone must have a monopoly on power."
Certainly the Communists intend to keep power. But this overlooks another principle that was the true driving force of their revolution: unifying the country.
That, too, remains as a legacy of the victory they fought so long, and endured so much, to achieve. Whether it's worth the terrible price paid by the Vietnamese people is, of course, another matter.
* "Cambodian insurgents were said to be the truest nationalists."
You would be hard pressed to find any record of anyone saying this during the anti-war movement.
The Khmer Rouge were not known at all in the West until after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam (and it was only about that time that they firmly gained control of the Cambodian insurgency).
The name began seeping out in 1973, but virtually nothing was known about its leadership, structures or ideology. Its leaders were not accurately identified by Western intelligence agencies until many months after their victory in 1975.
They were, as the article says, butchers. This began to be reported, mainly from refugee accounts, in 1974 and became better known when a number of Western reporters witnessed the brutal beginning of their occupation of Phnom Penh.
Like a number of other issues mentioned in the piece, though, this one has no relevance whatever to the Vietnam debate that split the United States a generation ago.
That debate was not primarily about the ideological or political circumstances in Vietnam, about which both our national leaders and the vast majority of protesters remained almost entirely ignorant.
The argument was over America's interests -- were there any in Vietnam worth 58,000 lives? -- and over the ways we chose to fight the war.
It ultimately became a debate, which in many ways has continued ever since, over what kind of nation and people we are.
Precisely because the debate continues, it's useful to look back at its origins.
Mr. Berger is absolutely right in concluding that Americans on both sides can find ample reasons, 20 years later, for humility. But we need to begin by remembering accurately what the arguments were, and what they were about.
Arnold R. Isaacs
The writer was The Sun's correspondent in Vietnam from 1972 to 1975 and is the author of "Without Honor: Defeat in Vietnam and Cambodia."
Should Maryland Become Gill Netters' Darling?
With critical fishery conservation measures taking place recently in Florida by voter referendum to ban the use of gill nets and off the coast of New England by regulatory measures to close Georges Bank to commercial fishing, it is difficult to imagine that any state on the East Coast would contemplate establishing a new opportunity for large scale commercial exploitation.