Pushing LBJ Into War: Robert S. McNamara and the Real Tonkin Gulf Deception

Published on Counterpunch, by GARETH PORTER, Aug 5, 2014.

For most of the last five decades, it has been assumed that the Tonkin Gulf incident was a deception by Lyndon Johnson to justify war in Vietnam. But the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam on August 4, 1964 in retaliation for an alleged naval attack that never happened — and the Tonkin Gulf Resolution that followed was not a move by LBJ to get the American people to support a U.S. war in Vietnam.  

The real deception on that day was that Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara’s misled LBJ by withholding from him the information that the U.S. commander in the Gulf who had initially reported an attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats on U.S. warships had now expressed serous doubts about the initial report and was calling for a full investigation by daylight. That withholding of information from LBJ represented a brazen move to usurp the president’s constitutional power of decision on the use of military force.

McNamara’s deception is documented in the declassified files on the Tonkin Gulf episode in the Lyndon Johnson library, which this writer used to piece together the untold story of the Tonkin Gulf episode in a 2005 book on the U.S. entry into war in Vietnam. It is a key element of a wider story of how the national security state, including both military and civilian officials, tried repeatedly to pressure LBJ to commit the United States to a wider war in Vietnam.

Johnson had refused to retaliate two days earlier for a North Vietnamese attack on U.S. naval vessels carrying out electronic surveillance operations. But he accepted McNamara’s recommendation for retaliatory strikes on August 4 based on reports of a second attack. But after that decision, the U.S. task force commander in the Gulf, Capt. John Herrick, began to send messages expressing doubt about that the initial reports and suggested a “complete evaluation” before any action was taken in response … //

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(Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian writing about U.S national security policy and the recipient of the Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012. His investigation of the U.S. entry into war in Vietnam, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published by University of California Press in 2005).

Related Links:

Gareth Porter:

Vietnam War:

  • on amazon (all books);
  • on Zcommunications.org;
  • on Google Web-search (timeline);
  • on en.wikipedia (Vietnamese: Chi?n tranh Vi?t Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War,[32] and known in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was a Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955[A 1] to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975 …;
  • on YouTube (documentary);

other Wars:

World War I:

End War:

Other Links:

Pilgrims Inc.: Soul Searching and Commerce on the Way of St. James, on Spiegel Online International, by Juan Moreno on the Camino de Santiago, August 7, 2014 (Photo Gallery): Not long ago, only a few people would make the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Now, over 200,000 people a year spend several grueling weeks along the route. Traditionalists turn up their noses at the crowds, but the rewards are still vast …;

Geneva Voted Europe’s Leading City Break Destination 2014, on Female First, by Laura Cummins, Aug 5, 2014: Geneva, the cosmopolitan and fascinating city of Switzerland, has been named “Europe’s Leading City Break Destination 2014” at the World Travel Awards WTA. Considered the ‘Oscars’ of Tourism, the city triumphed at the prestigious awards which took place in Athens, Greece on 2nd August 2014 …;

… and this:

The ATACAMA Mystery:

  • Video on YouTube, 13.41 min, uploaded by Sirius Disclosure, May 31, 2013: website;
  • on Open Minds TV, by Alejandro Rojas, April 24, 2013: The Sirius documentary was finally released and the question as to whether the Atacama humanoid is an extraterrestrial has been resolved, at least according to the scientist who analyzed the DNA, and the results are that he is human. However, the mystery doesn’t end there. Although, it is not an extraterrestrial, their findings show it may have been a 6-inch Chilean human that survived for 6 to 8 years …;
  • on Sirius Disclosure, by Steven M.Greer MD, April 22, 2013: After six months of research by leading scientists at Stanford University, the Atacama Humanoid remains a profound mystery …;
  • on en.wikipedia, Ata is the skeletal remains of a 6-inch (150 mm) human found in a deserted town in the Atacama Desert, Chile in 2003. Ata has since found its way into a private collection in Spain.[1] It was found by Oscar Muñoz near an abandoned church in a ghost town called La Noria, 56 km to the interior of Iquique in northern Chile;
  • on Google Images-search.

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