What do the Viet Nam War and the Iraq War have in common? The U.S. was dragged into both conflicts on the basis of lies, and thousands of Americans died as a result. Here, the Newspaper of Record comes out and admits that the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which persuaded Congress to commit the U.S. to the Viet Nam War, “never happened.”
WASHINGTON — In an echo of the debates over the discredited intelligence that helped make the case for the war in Iraq, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday released more than 1,100 pages of previously classified Vietnam-era transcripts that show senators of the time sharply questioning whether they had been deceived by the White House and the Pentagon over the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident.
“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,” Senator Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee, the father of the future vice president, said in March 1968 in a closed session of the Foreign Relations Committee.
The documents are Volume 20 in a regular series of releases of historical transcripts from the committee, which conducted most of its business in executive session during the 1960s, before the Senate required committee meetings to be public. The documents were edited by Donald Ritchie, the Senate historian, and cover 1968, when members of the committee were anguished over Vietnam and in a deteriorating relationship with the Johnson White House over the war.
Historians said the transcripts, which are filled with venting by the senators about the Johnson administration and frustrations over their own ineffectiveness, added little new to the historical record. Even at the time, there was widespread skepticism about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which the North Vietnamese were said to have attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after an earlier clash.
President Lyndon B. Johnson cited the attacks to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam, but historians in recent years have concluded that the Aug. 4 attack never happened.
Read more at the New York Times.