Old enemies narrow the gulf

Click to follow
The Independent Online
What really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964, propelling the United States deeper into the Vietnam War? Quite possibly, very little.

Robert McNamara, US Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson years, met his old nemesis, General Vo Nguyen Giap, in Hanoi yesterday, and asked him about it. General Giap told him there was no second attack on US vessels in the gulf, the report of which - by the US Navy - helped accelerate ``McNamara's war''. ``On the fourth of August, there was absolutely nothing,'' General Giap told him. The general's word was good enough for him, said Mr McNamara, who recently expressed regrets over the war.

US fears that all of South-East Asia could fall to communism was an illusion, General Giap said, adding: ``However, some people, even the brightest ones, believe in such illusions.''

Mr McNamara, who was visiting Vietnam in the hope of organising a conference of decision-makers in the war, greeted passers-by on a jog around Hoan Kiam Lake. None appeared to recognise the man whose decision-making once laid waste to their country.

The German nation is disgusted. Michael Schumacher, the Formula One world champion, has been branded ``the world's most loathsome man'' by GQ magazine. His crime appears to be that he is a crashing bore who ``makes Nigel Mansell seem interesting''. Yesterday outraged German readers aired their revulsion at the verdict in the columns of Bild Zeitung.

The British are jealous, they said, because their leading driver, Damon Hill, has only seen the ``rear end of Schumi's car'' all season. ``Englishmen are only good at hooliganism, drinking beer and turning pink in the sun,'' wrote K Bendler from Bietigheim.

Not all Germans agreed, however. Andreas Winter from Dresden said he dislikes Schumacher because he ``lives abroad, pays no taxes ... and yet wants to be feted as a German world champion''. Unlike that other great champion, Steffi Graf, who lives in Germany - and pays some of her taxes.

She was snapped as a toddler crawling under her father's White House desk and grew as the daughter of the world's most-photographed woman. Now Caroline Kennedy has written a book on privacy.

The New York lawyer and a friend, Ellen Alderman, have published The Right to Privacy, which describes intrusions from the press, the government, employers and computers, and illustrates legal concepts through the cases of ordinary people. ``The law now is really being made by people who are not well-known,'' Ms Kennedy said.

``When you look at the whole thing, you wonder, `Are we now at the point where the balance has swung too far away from the individual?' I don't think it's clear,'' said Ms Kennedy, who once had 1,000 uninvited people turn up at her wedding.

MARYANN BIRD

Comments