Monday, January 14, 2008

Gulf of Tonkin Will Be Tough to Repeat

by Ray McGovern

When the Tonkin Gulf incident took place in early August 1964, I was a journeyman CIA analyst in what Condoleezza Rice refers to as "the bowels of the agency."

As a current intelligence analyst responsible for Russian policy toward Southeast Asia and China, I worked very closely with those responsible for analysis of Vietnam and China.

Out of that experience I must say that, as much as one might be tempted to laugh at the bizarre, theatrical accounts of last week's incident involving small Iranian boats and U.S. naval ships in the Strait of Hormuz, this is – as my old Russian professor used to insist – nothing to laugh.

The situation is so reminiscent of what happened – and didn't happen – from Aug. 2-4, 1964, in the Gulf of Tonkin and in Washington, it is in no way funny.

At the time, the U.S. had about 16,000 troops in South Vietnam. The war that was "justified" by the Tonkin Gulf resolution of Aug. 7, 1964, led to a buildup of 535,000 U.S. troops in the late Sixties, 58,000 of whom were killed – not to mention the estimated 2 million Vietnamese who lost their lives by then and in the ensuing 10 years.

Ten years. How can our president speak so glibly about 10 more years of a U.S. armed presence in Iraq? He must not remember Vietnam.

Get the rest after the click ...

My comment: "He must not remember Vietnam." Do you suppose that might be a thinly veiled put-down directed at the head of an administration who never served in combat (though he says he did) ... or any of the others in that administration who, as Dick Cheney said of his absence from Vietnam service, "... had other priorities."

Read a little more about the Tonkin Gulf here.

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