Friday, 4 April 2008

The Gulf of Tonkin: "It didn't happen."

The Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred on 4nd August 1964. On that day the US Maddox, a naval destroyer, was said to have been attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats whilst carrying out missions in the Gulf of Tonkin. The media lept on the story that the communist Vietnamese had attacked a US vessel. And on the basis of the attack the US Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. This resolution gave president Lindon Johnson the power to go to war without an official 'declaration' of war. Thus the president was able esculate military operations in Vietnam without recourse to Congress, something hitherto demanded by the constitution. In the end these operations would last for more than a decade and would bring about the deaths of over 50,000 US soldiers and between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 Vietnamese citizens. The trigger for the Vietnam conflict, the incident that was used as its justification, was the one that occurred in the Gulf of Tonkin on the 4th August 1964.

But the simple fact is that there was no such incident. The Maddox was attacked by nothing at all on 4th August 1964. Robert McNamara the then Secretary of Defence and someone who played a central role in selling this lie to Congress and the American public later admited, "It did not happen." The truth is that the Gulf of Tonkin story was a top to bottom fabrication used to coerce Congress and the American public into accepting the Vietnam conflict. It succeeded.

It's a precedent we are all familiar with. Lies being used to justify whatever military action our government wishes to carry out. Britain attacked Afghanistan on the basis of Bin Laden's involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Yet we have not seen a shred of evidence linking Bin Laden to the attack; not to mention the fact that Bin Laden and 16 of the 19 alledged 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, not Afghans. Then there's Iraq, which Britain attacked because of the lie that it posed a threat to us.

You may remember a few months ago there was an incident in the Strait of Hormuz close to Iran where the US accused Iranian ships of harrassing and provoking three US Navy ships. This incident occured just a month after the US National Intelligence Estimate revealed that Iran's nuclear programme - which was being touted as justification for a US attack on Iran - had been suspended four years earlier. The parallels between this much exadjurated incident and the Gulf of Tonkin are striking. Both were staged events intended to pull the wool over the eyes of the people in the cause of governmental war mongering.

Next time you hear in the press that Iran or Syria or whoever else has attacked the West, remember the Gulf of Tonkin.

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