A forgotten anniversary

A lot of time and digital data has been spent commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I, even by yours truly, and rightly so.  The Great War was the primordial event of the 20th century, beginning thirty years of war, fifty years of Cold War, and creating the mess that is the Middle East today.

BUT, let's not forget an equally important anniversary...the 50th Anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

What is that you say?  Especially if you went to public schools.....using Common Core history...or social studies...or language art...or whatever Charlie-Foxtrot passes for history in America today.

SOOO, let's review....

In 1964, the American Navy was supporting a series of covert naval operations by South Vietnam against North Vietnam.  The operations, called Operation 34-A, were conducted by...yup, you guessed it, the CIA against North Vietnam.

On 2 August 1964, North Vietnamese PT boats attacked a US Navy destroyer, the USS Maddox off the coast of North Vietnam, mistakenly thinking the ship was involved in Operation 34-A missions...it wasn't ...it was actually conducting covert intelligence gathering...however that is done with a big stinkin' warship.  In any event, with the help of  aircraft from the USS Ticonderoga, the destroyer drove off the PT boats.  The controversy began with a supposed 2nd attack the night of 4 August on the Maddox and USS C. Turner Joy, an attack that was in dispute, even at the time.

Historically speaking, evidence over time has shown the LBJ and his minions either choose to ignore, covered up, or didn't ask a lot of questions as they seemed to be looking for an excuse to get more involved in Vietnam.  

The end result of all this was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the beginning of Operation Rolling Thunder, and the deepening involvement of the US in Vietnam, leading to 50,000 American dead.

This day has a personal meaning for me.  As a young midshipman and history major, my first research project was an examination of this entire incident, as I tried to determine if, in fact, the second attack had taken place.  My research showed that the issue was in great doubt, as bad weather, taut nerves, and an overeager sonarman probably led to the mistaken conclusion that the North Vietnamese attacked the two destroyers the night of August 4.  Needless to say, this was not a popular conclusion with some of my classmates, who figured I was just being a pessimist and Monday morning quarterback.  Of course, the fog of war is always in play, and even the commander of the two destroyers raised doubts immediately after the incident that an attack actually took place. 

However, LBJs mind was made up and he ordered retaliatory strikes.  Eight years of combat resulted.

So when some crazy lib starts spouting about how Bush lied about the WMD intelligence, ask them about the Gulf of Tonkin and their Great Society patron saint.

Chances are you'll get the typical clueless stare as most public school educated liberals probably have no idea what the Vietnam War was...much less how the Gulf of Tonkin incident led to direct American involvement.