In the NYT, Lucian Truscott writes about the impending loss of the core of the young Army officer corp due to placing them in situations where they can't fulfill the honor code they were programmed to believe in: "you pledged that you would not lie, cheat or steal, and that you would not tolerate those who did."
Truscott, himself a West Point graduate -- Class of '69, recounts how it failed then: "the honor code broke down before our eyes as staff and faculty jobs at West Point began filling with officers returning from Vietnam. Some had covered their uniforms with bogus medals and made their careers with lies - inflating body counts, ignoring drug abuse, turning a blind eye to racial discrimination, and worst of all, telling everyone above them in the chain of command that we were winning a war they knew we were losing. The lies became embedded in the curriculum of the academy, and finally in its moral DNA."
And now, it's happening all over again: "The problem the Army created in Vietnam has never really been solved. If you keep faith with soldiers and tell them the truth even when it threatens their beliefs, you run the risk of losing them. But if you peddle cleverly manipulated talking points to people who trust you not to lie, you won't merely lose them, you'll break their hearts."
In a guest column in the NYT, Stacy Schiff opines:
"More than 60 percent of the American people don't trust the press. Why should they? They've been reading 'The Da Vinci Code' and marveling at its historical insights. I have nothing against a fine thriller, especially one that claims the highest of literary honors: it's a movie on the page. But 'The Da Vinci Code' is not a work of nonfiction. If one more person talks to me about Dan Brown's crackerjack research I'm shooting on sight.
The novel's success does point up something critical. We're happier to swallow a half-baked Renaissance religious conspiracy theory than to examine the historical fiction we're living (and dying for) today."