Behind the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Sep 4, 2014

  The public rationale for Congressional authorization of America’s entry into the Viet Nam War has since been discredited as misleading or worse. But a local serviceman who was in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 says that even then, he saw classified documents that belied the official account.

While the motives surrounding the Aug.2, 1964 “incident” involving the two American destroyers in the Tonkin Gulf may never be fully known, there is no dispute that some sort of exchange took place. But as Fred Ptucha explains, the same cannot be said of what happened two days later.

President Lyndon Johnson confers with Secretary of State Dean Rusk (left) and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

Yet those conclusions were kept secret, Ptucha says, even at the highest levels of government.