Publishing of the Gulf of Tonkin and Its Impact on Johnson's Presidency Career

The Gulf of Tonkin incident took place on August 2 and 4, 1964, it is also known as the USS Maddox incident, an international confrontation of two unprovoked attacks by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on Maddox and Turner Joy which lead to the involvement of the United States entering the Vietnam War. Originally, the two incidents were blamed on North Vietnam but eventually lead to controversy on one or both incidents being false. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution or Southeast Asia Resolution was enacted on August 10, 1964 to respond to the incident off the coast of Vietnam. President Lyndon B. Johnson asked for the authorization to use military force without a formal declaration of war by Congress. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident/Resolution was an event important enough to remain in the new textbook because politically it was the starting point of the United States involvement of the Vietnam War, mkreover, this was the down fall to Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency. 

The publishing of the Gulf of Tonkin is politically significant because during this time, the United States of America was trying to prevent the spread of communism by any means necessary. Americans believed in the domino effect which correlated with the need of containment because America attempted to limit the communist nations. President Johnson proposed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which states, “The United States regards as vital to its national interest and to world peace maintenance of international peace and security in Southeast Asia”. Although the Resolution was proposed and passed in 1964, Johnson and all other presidents believed in the security and peace of the United States. The domino theory was introduced by President Dwight D. Eisenhower which contributed for reasons of involvement; Congress ultimately agreed to the Resolution: 88 to 2, but those who opposed, senators Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening believed the escalation and involvement of the Vietnam War is no business of the United States. This later lead to controversy on Johnson's Presidency and the conflict between the supporters and those who opposed the war. The reasons for the interest of involvement was out of concern of the well being of the country and citizens.

In addition, the publishing of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, is economically important because the War on poverty programs and the war abroad escalating during the same time, consequently, affected the United States’ economy severely, due to low inflation, and high employment. Alan Rohn claims, “However, his decision to finance both “guns and butter” – a major war and the Great Society simultaneously, without a significant increase in taxes unleashed an acceleration of inflation peaking at a runaway double-digit in mid 1970s.”. Johnson tried to mirror Kennedys success inevitable damaged the economy because of spending on the war and domestic programs. Nevertheless, the Great Society Programs affected about 195 million Americans, but six billion dollars were taken by Congress from the Programs the Vietnam War. In the present, medical, education, and other programs advocated by the Great Society greatly aided many people but those who are still affected by the results of the war, such as the large gap between the lower and upper class and the homeless. The result of the afflicted from the escalation of the war created an immense problem to the descendants of the war.

Furthermore, the publishing of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, is socially significant because it created a division within the citizens such as the doves and hawks. During conversations between President Lyndon B. Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, discussing, “It is also notable that McNamara in this conversation clearly favors explaining to Congress the link between the incident and the OPLAN-34A activities… LBJ himself was well aware of the connection and had explained it to an adviser in a different conversation less than an hour earlier. The president here tells McNamara to limit discussion to key congressional figures, including Speaker of the House John McCormick, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, and Minority Leader Everett Dirksen. From this telephone call it appears that McNamara's later public comments were made under instruction from Lyndon Johnson”. Ultimately, the president and McNamara new about the real reasons for entering the war but did not disclose it to Congress such as the OPLAN-34A. Initially, this became “the beginning of the end” of Johnsons public support because he allowed for the war to continue, causing the deaths to 500,000 American troops. Students protest for freedom of speech in universities to be able to openly speak about political issues, average people sought out the injustices the war of Vietnam saying it was the “working man's war.” This caused the division in Americans doves who wanted peace and prosperity and hawks: those who encourage sending those off to fight.

The Incident and Resolution of the Gulf of Tonkin was mainly the escalation and involvement of war in Vietnam, if fact, it was part of the containment plan which created economic, political and social problems for the country. The Gulf of Tokinn in incident and resolution became the down fall to Johnson's presidency, economically damaged America, and caused a division between supporters and opposers of the war. 

07 July 2022
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