Gulf of Tonkin Resolution Facts

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution Facts
After the Indochina War ended with the French giving the region independence in 1954, the country that is today Vietnam was partitioned into a communist North Vietnam and a capitalist-democratic South Vietnam. The two governments were immediately at odds and involved in open warfare by 1955. The United States sent military advisors and intelligence agents to support the South Vietnam government, but the conflict was largely ignored by most Americans until the Gulf of Tonkin Incident on August 2, 1964. The engagement was relatively minor, but it led some American officials to claim that there was another engagement two days later. On August 7, 1964, both houses of the U.S. Congress passed a resolution that gave President Lyndon Baines Johnson the ability to pursue almost unlimited warfare against North Vietnam without declaring war. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution led to an immediate escalation in the Vietnam War, creating more American casualties, which in turn led to more protests in America against the war.
Interesting Gulf of Tonkin Resolution Facts:
The USS Maddox, a destroyer, was the primary American vessel involved in the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
Four North Vietnamese sailors were killed in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, while no Americans were even wounded.
It was later revealed that no North Vietnamese vessels were involved in the second Gulf of Tonkin Incident on August 4. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara later admitted the second incident never took place and President Johnson even said in private a year later that "For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there." The second incident was to be the causus belli for war.
McNamara testified to Congress that the Maddox was not involved in South Vietnamese raids on North Vietnam, although that was later determined to not be true.
The resolution passed in the House 416-0 and 88-2 in the Senate. The only Senators opposed were Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska. Both Senators were Democrats.
As American involvement in Vietnam progressed and the casualties increased, Americans grew weary of the war and questioned the constitutionality and virtues of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
President Nixon' view on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution were nuanced. He won the presidency partially by appealing to Middle America to end the war. He began pulling troops out of Vietnam, but also expanded bombings into Laos and Cambodia.
The release of the Pentagon Papers was the final nail in the coffin for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The Pentagon Papers revealed that American involvement in Vietnam/Indochina was much more extensive before 1964 than previously thought and that the second Gulf of Tonkin Incident was really a false flag meant to garner American support for the war.
The Foreign Military Sales Act, which Nixon signed in 1971, repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
The War Powers Resolution was then passed by Congress and signed by President Nixon in 1973. It requires the president to notify Congress within forty-eight hours of using the military.

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