Gulf of Tonkin incident


“The Gulf of Tonkin incident (Vietnamese: Sự kiện Vịnh Bắc Bộ), also known as the USS Maddox incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved either one or two separate confrontations involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but eventually became very controversial with widespread claims that either one or both incidents were false, and possibly deliberately so. On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox, while performing a signals intelligence patrol as part of DESOTO operations, was pursued by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. Maddox fired three warning shots and the North Vietnamese boats then attacked with torpedoes and machine gun fire. Maddox expended over 280 3-inch and 5-inch shells in a sea battle. One U.S. aircraft was damaged, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were damaged, and four North Vietnamese sailors were killed, with six more wounded. There were no U.S. casualties. Maddox ‘was unscathed except for a single bullet hole from a Vietnamese machine gun round’. … The outcome of these two incidents was the passage by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by ‘communist aggression’. The resolution served as Johnson’s legal justification for deploying U.S. conventional forces and the commencement of open warfare against North Vietnam. In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded that Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there were no North Vietnamese naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. …”
Wikipedia
National Security Archive: LBJ Tapes on the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, The White House Tapes 
Guardian: When presidents lie to make a war
NPR: Gulf of Tonkin’s Phantom Attack (Audio)
YouTube: Tonkin Gulf Incident From PBS’s American Experience LBJ

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Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in CIA, Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, Vietnam War and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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