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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Would You Buy A Used Car From These Men?

     Robert S. McNamara (June 9, 1916 – July 6, 2009) was an American business executive and Secretary of Defense, serving from 1961 to 1968 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Sometimes known as the “Author of the Vietnam War”, he played a major role in escalating the United States involvement in the war. I never liked the guy and likened him to a weasel. Nor did I like his boss, President Lyndon B. Johnson, who I considered to be a crude and vulgar man.
     McNamara was born in San Francisco, California, graduated from UC Berkeley and Harvard Business School and served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. After the war, Henry Ford II hired McNamara and a group of other Army Air Force veterans to work for Ford Motor Company. These "Whiz Kids" helped reform Ford with modern planning, organization, and management control systems. After briefly serving as Ford's president, McNamara accepted appointment as Secretary of Defense.
     He became a close adviser to John F. Kennedy and advocated the use of a blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy and McNamara instituted a Cold War defense strategy of flexible response, consolidated intelligence and logistics functions of the Pentagon into two centralized agencies: the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Defense Supply Agency.
     Beginning with the Kennedy administration, it was McNamara who presided over the build-up of the US military in South Vietnam. After the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, the number of US soldiers in Vietnam escalated dramatically. Eventually he grew skeptical of the efficacy of committing US soldiers to Vietnam and in 1968 he resigned as Secretary of Defense to become President of the World Bank. At least he deserves credit for admitting he was wrong. But, let me tell you what he did that lead to over 58,000 Americans, many of them my friends, and who know how many Vietnamese, getting killed for nothing.
     The Gulf of Tonkin incident, also known as the USS Maddox incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved alleged confrontations involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The whole incident, which occurred in President Johnson's first year as president, was fake.
     On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox, while performing an intelligence patrol was pursued by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats and Maddox fired three warning shots and the North Vietnamese boats then attacked with torpedoes and machine gun fire.
     The National Security Agency claimed that a Second Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred on August 4, 1964, but that was simply not true. The second incident was the result of an overzealous US Navy radar operator and ghost image on the radar, and some politicians took advantage of this non-incident for their own purposes.
     James Stockdale (December 23, 1923 – July 5, 2005), a Navy Vice Admiral, who served as a pilot and was awarded the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War during which he was a prisoner of war for over seven years flew missions during both events confirmed that there were no North Vietnamese boats during the second “incident.” In a 2003 documentary McNamara even admitted the second Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened. In 1995, former Vietnam People's Army General Vo Nguyen Giap also claimed “absolutely nothing" happened.
     Secretary McNamara told President Johnson that a US Navy vessel had been attacked and urged retaliation. The President agreed. Johnson ordered Maddox and another ship, the Turner Joy, to stage daylight runs into North Vietnamese waters, testing the 12 nautical miles limit and North Vietnamese resolve. The outcome of these two incidents was that Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by "communist aggression". The resolution served as Johnson's legal justification for deploying US conventional forces and the commencement of open warfare against North Vietnam. 
     On August 2, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon the orders from the Maddox's captain were to open fire if the Vietnamese boats approached within ten thousand yards. Five minutes later the Maddox fired three rounds to warn them off and the gunboats turned around. The Johnson administration lied about this fact and insisted that the Vietnamese boats fired first.
     Shortly before midnight, on August 4, 1964 President Johnson interrupted national television to make an announcement in which he described an attack by North Vietnamese vessels on two US Navy warships, Maddox and Turner Joy, and requested authority to undertake a military response. Johnson also referred to the attacks as having taken place "on the high seas," suggesting that they had occurred in international waters which was not true.
     The whole mess started when some fast patrol boats were quietly purchased from Norway and sent to South Vietnam. In 1963 three young Norwegian skippers were recruited by a Norwegian intelligence officer, who unknown to them, was working for the United States.
     They agreed to a job involving sabotage missions against North Vietnam. The missions themselves originated from the office of Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp, Jr., CINCPAC in Honolulu, who received his orders from the White House.
     After the sabotage attacks began, Hanoi lodged a complaint with the International Control Commission which oversaw the terms of the Geneva Accords, but the US (meaning Johnson and McNamara) denied any involvement. Four years later, Secretary McNamara admitted to Congress that he and Johnson lied.
     Regarding the Maddox incident, Oregon Senator Wayne Morse smelled a rat. He attempted to raise awareness about possible faulty records of the incident involving Maddox. He supposedly received a call from an anonymous informant urging Morse to investigate official logbooks of Maddox, but the logs were not available before President Johnson's resolution was presented to Congress. Morse tried to warn Congress to be wary of President Johnson's conniving, but nobody believed him because he had no hard evidence. After the United States became more deeply mired in the war his claim began to gain support. When Morse ran for re-election in 1968 he was defeated.
     Theories abound. Various government officials and even embers of the Maddox's crew have suggested the whole scheme was designed to provoke the North Vietnamese and escalate US involvement. It's also been claimed that American politicians and strategists had been planning provocative actions against North Vietnam for some time. American diplomat George Ball told a British journalist after the war that "at that time...many people...were looking for any excuse to initiate bombing".
     According to Raymond McGovern, a retired CIA officer, the CIA, President Johnson, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy all knew that the evidence of any second attack on the evening of August 4, 1964, was highly doubtful. He also claimed Johnson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were eager to widen the war in Vietnam.
     In his book, Body of Secrets, James Bamford, who spent three years in theNavy as an intelligence analyst, writes that the primary purpose of the Maddox "was to act as a seagoing provocateur—to poke its sharp gray bow and the American flag as close to the belly of North Vietnam as possible, in effect shoving its five-inch cannons up the nose of the communist navy.... The Maddox' mission was made even more provocative by being timed to coincide with commando raids, creating the impression that the Maddox was directing those missions..."

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