“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
January 17, 1961
War is a very profitable business for the military industrial complex. To the extent that if there’s not a seemingly good reason for the United States to be at war, you can bet that they’ll find one. And if they can’t find one, they will create one. This is exactly what happened in August of 1964, when Lyndon Johnson was itching to turn U.S. assistance to South Vietnam into an all-out war with North Vietnam.
From early on, there were lots of rumblings that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was a staged event, but, like today, most Americans couldn’t or wouldn’t entertain the possibility that the United States would pretend to be attacked in order to justify a profitable war. It just didn’t jibe with the myth of American exceptionalism that had been driven into their skulls since birth. After all, America only fights for good and righteous causes, right?
Sadly, the Vietnam war, like most wars since, was fought for oil, for the corporate profits of the weapons industry, and for bankers, and the contrived Gulf of Tonkin incident is what made it all possible.
Here’s a 60 Minutes report from 1971, that makes it clear that the supposed North Vietnam “attack” on U.S. warships never happened, and was in fact, a fabrication.
Even in light of the 60 Minutes report however, and many other credible sources, the truth of what really happened at the Gulf of Tonkin was never admitted to by the United States government until the NSA (National Security Agency) declassified some of its reports on the incident. Meanwhile, anyone who suggested that the U.S. manufactured their excuse for war was met with rolling eyes, and the ever-popular label of “conspiracy theorist.”
Of course, understanding that the United States government was willing and able to lie its way into the Vietnam War should make one question the origins of every single armed conflict that America has been involved in, before and since. This is one of the many reasons that people should take a good, hard look at the events of 9/11/2001, which, as we all know was the “justification” for reduced civil liberties, and TWO wars of aggression that have fed the voracious military industrial complex, while securing yet more oil, natural gas, heroin, and protection for America’s favorite ally, Israel.
After all, who benefited from the Vietnam War? Certainly not the North Vietnamese. And who benefited from 9/11? Certainly not Iraq, or Afghanistan, or the semi-fictional branch of the CIA known as Al Qaeda.
But this isn’t a story about 9/11, so we’ll save those details for another day. I just wanted to point out that the reality of the Gulf of Tonkin incident should at least cast some doubt on the conspiracy theory known as the 9/11 Commission Report.
Rich and powerful people DO conspire in order to gain more power and wealth, and they often get away with it.
Yes, even rich and powerful Americans.
By Peter Grier, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / January 9, 2008
US signals intelligence – the much-vaunted ability of American military and spy units to eavesdrop on the radio calls and other electronic communications of an adversary – failed at crucial moments during the Vietnam War, according to a just-declassified National Security Agency history of the effort.
The 10,000 cryptographers and other signals personnel in Southeast Asia at the time did not predict the start of the Tet offensive on Jan. 31, 1968. Prior to that, signals intelligence may have actually misled President Johnson and other top policymakers about the nature of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a supposed North Vietnamese attack on US forces triggered a major escalation in the war.
US eavesdroppers had many successes during the war, according to the lengthy document, particularly in picking up the tactical communications of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters in the field.
But when it comes to major events, signals intelligence is not magic, as the history makes clear. That is a point current policymakers would do well to remember as they struggle to interpret intelligence dealing with the complex modern problems of nuclear proliferation and Islamist extremism.
In both the Tet and Gulf of Tonkin cases, “critical information was mishandled, misinterpreted, lost, or ignored,” writes NSA historian Robert Hanyok in the agency history.
Yet both were major turning points of the Vietnam conflict. The Gulf of Tonkin led to open US involvement in the fighting. Tet, though a tactical military defeat for the North, was a surprise for a US public that had been led to believe victory might be imminent. It may have contributed to declining support for the American intervention.
The Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred in early August 1964. On Aug. 2, North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked a US destroyer, the USS Maddox, in the Gulf of Tonkin, an arm of the South China Sea off Vietnam’s northeastern coast. Mr. Johnson warned the North that another such attack would bring “grave consequences.” On Aug. 4, Johnson announced that another attack had occurred and asked Congress to vote him powers to respond. On Aug. 7, Congress gave him those powers in the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which became the legal foundation for increased US involvement.
Even at the time, some doubted that the second attack had occurred. Yet the Johnson administration produced what seemed a key piece of evidence – a North Vietnamese Navy after-action report, intercepted by the NSA, which appeared to discuss the battle.
In fact, the intercept had been mistranslated, according to the just-released report. The Vietnamese word for “military operations” can also mean “long movement,” and the intercept in reality referred to the towing of two North Vietnamese patrol boats some distance for repairs.
Furthermore, US intelligence intercepted no communications or radar emissions associated with the assumed attack. Mr. Hanyok, the NSA historian, cites Sherlock Holmes, who famously once solved a case because a dog did not bark, proving something did not occur.
“As Holmes would come to conclude that no crime was committed, so we must conclude that, since [signals intelligence] never intercepted anything associated with an attack, none ever occurred,” Hanyok writes.
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