Jerry Wang Conspiracies HonGulf of TonkinThe Gulf of Tonkin Incident is an event shrouded in mystery, and immortalized by the events which cascaded from the decisions of President Johnson that ignited the Vietnam war. We may never know exactly how much of this incident is made up, but we can examine why the president chose to do this and the effects this incident has on the people who came after it.On 2 August 1964 the U.S. destroyer Maddox was outfitted for electronic surveillance and sent to patrol near North Vietnam shores (Hay). It’s mission was to gain intelligence on North Vietnamese radar facilities and to provide communications with South Vietnamese commandos raiding along the North Vietnamese coast. When the Maddox approached Hon Me Island in the Red River Delta, located within an area claimed by North Vietnam,three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were dispatched to intercept it. One bullet struck the Maddox, a fact acknowledged from both side.(K. Lee) Navy jets from the nearby carrier Ticonderoga sank one of the attacking boats and damaged the other two. The Pentagon ordered the Maddox and a second destroyer, the C. Turner Joy, to continue patrolling off the coast of North Vietnam. They patrolled within eight miles of the coast and four miles of the off-coast island to test the twelve-mile limit, which the U.S. did not recognize (Hay). South Vietnamese patrol boats were simultaneously conducting nearby coastal raids. In the early evening of 4 August 1964, in a wild and sonar distorting storm, officers of both destroyers believed they were under attack from North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Questionable sonar readings suggested that many torpedoes might have been launched, but since no sightings of torpedoes and torpedo boats were confirmed, and since neither ship sustained any damage, evidence of an actual attack could not be established. Robert Mcnamara, the serving secretary of defence, recalled years later that after examining reports of this second incident, ” It was just confusion, and events afterwards showed that our judgment that we’d been attacked that day was wrong. It didn’t happen” (Morris). President Johnson, allegedly, said to an aide after the second reported attack, “Hell, those dumb stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish” (Berman). J. William Fulbright led a 1968 investigation by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and they concluded that the second incident almost certainly had not occurred (Berman). Nonetheless, President Johnson felt that the evidence of an attack was good enough and that the U.S. would have to retaliate (Lerner). White House aide Kenneth O’Donnell later wrote that the President, under harsh criticism from Republican presidential opponent Barry Goldwater for being soft on communism, felt the need to act decisively. He ordered air attacks against four North Vietnamese torpedo boat bases and a major oil storage facility. Announcing his action on television, Johnson stated, “Repeated acts of violence against the armed forces of the United States must be met not only with alert defense, but with positive reply. That reply is being given as I speak to you tonight” (K. Lee). On 5 August 1964, President Johnson sent the prepared resolution to Congress. Several members of the House of Representatives. When it came to a Senate vote in August 1964, only a Democrat from Alaska opposed it. The vote in the House was unanimous. Opinion polls indicated that eighty five percent of the public supported the president’s decision on Vietnam (Lerner). And thus, America has seemingly willingly plunged into one of the most disastrous war in US history.Years later, Robert McNamara, the secretary of defence under Johnson, remarked “It was just confusion, and events afterwards showed that our judgment that we’d been attacked that day was wrong. It didn’t happen.” Perhaps fooled by the first engagement, even though only a single bullet hit the Maddox, Johnson authorized the attack based on an assumption that an attack has occurred. Of course, they were wrong, but they had in their minds a mindset that led to that action (Morris). In many times in history, we see incorrect interpretations of reality, or often times see only half of the story. People see what they believe, but “Belief and seeing, they’re both often wrong” (Mcnamara). Conspiracies are often born out of misinterpreted situations, as it is impossible for everything in an event to be explained clearly, so therefore people start questioning people behind the event. The intent behind the action is often the focal point of conspiracies, as they are the most ambiguous factor of all actions. All of President Johnson’s fiction are very believable because they are rooted in facts, however blurry they are at the time. Communism already have a very negative effect on the public based on its reputation alone, the president simply utilized the red scare and the recorded texts to manipulate the truth.Berman, William C. “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the Politics of War.” Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006. World History in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/BT2336000008/WHIC?u=bryn65452=c7a7fbb8. Accessed 27 Nov. 2017.Lerner, K. Lee, “Johnson, Lyndon B., and U.S. Congress, Promoting the Maintenance of International Peace and Security in Southeast Asia.” Government, Politics, and Protest: Essential Primary Sources, edited by, et al., Gale, 2006, pp. 132-135. World History in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX2687500061/WHIC?u=bryn65452=bb8f5aca. Accessed 27 Nov. 2017.Hay, Jeff T. “Gulf of Tonkin Incident.” The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of The Vietnam War, edited by Charles Zappia, Greenhaven Press, 2004, pp. 114-115. World History in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX2277900161/WHIC?u=bryn65452=73e12d72. Accessed 27 Nov. 2017.Morris, Errol, director. The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. Sony Pictures Classic, 2003.