And now it’s time for some light reading on the Vietnam War

As every dorky history student knows, justification for the escalation of American involvement in Vietnam was largely based on the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. As every dorky history student probably also knows, there is a really good chance that the whole incident was made up.  Or at the very least the wrong information was getting filtered to LBJ.

This week, 1175 pages of previously classified transcripts from 1967+1968 were released. The documents show senators from the Foreign Relations Committee questioning if the wool had been pulled over their eyes in the Gulf of Tonkin on 4 August 1964.

Yup, people had even more doubt than Meryl Streep that something fishy might be going on. Even Al Gore’s dad noticed. Senator Albert Gore, Sr. related in a closed session of the Foreign Relations Committee in March 1968 that “if this country has been misled, if this committee, this Congress, has been misled by pretext into a war in which thousands of young men have died, and many more thousands have been crippled for life, and out of which their country has lost prestige, moral position in the world, the consequences are very great.”

So what did they do about their doubts? Nothing. And the war kept going, and people kept dying, until 1975.

Records Show Doubts on ’64 Vietnam Crisis

Senator Kerry’s preface to the transcripts

All 1175 pages of testimony

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2 Comments on “And now it’s time for some light reading on the Vietnam War”

  1. William Gilgan Says:

    I met a guy in Ramona, California who had shell shock from his experience in Vietnam. He came over to the table that me and my four of my friends were standing around and proceeded to have a three way conversation with two other characters, he spoke the lines for all three of them. It took a little while for us to realize that he wasn’t speaking to us directly for the most part, occasionally he’d break out of the trance to try to draw beer from our pitcher or harass the bar staff. He even got down on the floor and ‘crawled through the jungle’. I think he was really negatively affected in Vietnam. I wouldn’t want to be around him after he read this.

  2. General Misconduct
    Published: August 18, 2010

    “A core principle of our civilian control of the military is that a general should never act contrary to written orders, and certainly never on vague verbal cues. General Lavelle had no excuse.

    Some blame falls on Nixon, too. If we want to maintain civilian control of the military, especially in wartime, we can’t have presidents avoiding responsibility for their actions, or letting military officers assume, because of winks and nods and reports of Oval Office comments, that they have legal authority to act contrary to formal orders.”

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