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David Kaiser's claim that US intervention in the spring of 1965 led to a huge death toll, unnecessary given the outcome, is seconded by William Colby. In his book _Lost Victory_ Colby argued that fighting the "village war" was America's only viable option, even if it included sticking with the Diem regime. In practice Colby advocated continued US advisory and financial aid but contingent on reforms made by the Saigon government. Colby admitted that this course may have failed, but he noted that had it done so that hundreds of thousands of lives would have been spared. As for estimates on civilian casualties, they're all over the map. For a long while the figure of two million civilian casualties due to American fire was accepted by many in the anti-war community. These figures were thrown together by some unknown assistant to the Senate Committee chaired by Ted Kennedy investigating refugees and civilian casualties. No one has been able to substantiate a number this high. That said, in a war as long as Vietnam, the numbers would have been grim. What does seem clear is that US estimates of enemy killed (the infamous "body count") may have been closer to the truth than anyone believed, including those people generating the figures. In the years after the war Hanoi actually emphasized the huge cost paid for "liberation." Anything dealing with Hanoi may have political implications not immediately obvious, but I think we can accept that Vietnam was a violent war even in 20th Century standards. Eric Bergerud Eric Bergerud; 531 Kains Ave; Albany, CA 94706; 510-525-0930