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The Gulf of Tonkin incident - Essay Example

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The Gulf of Tonkin incident is described as the beginning of large scale involvement of America in the Vietnam War. It was triggered by attacks on two US warships USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy. These attacks took place on 2nd and 4th of August 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin.
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The Gulf of Tonkin incident
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Download file to see previous pages The mutual distrust of the allies against each other resulted into great animosity and gave rise to war tendencies. It led to the arms and missiles race between USA and Soviet Russia. Neither sides fought a direct war against each other, considering the appalling consequences, but they constantly fought for control and power through their proxy countries. Devastating effects of these proxy wars can still be observed world over. The cold war proceeded through Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Vietnam War, Cuban Missile Crisis, and Soviet-Afghan War and on. Each of these wars had its disastrous and long running effects on the world history. Vietnam War amongst these proved to be a non-repairable mistake for America in the long run.
In the cold war era America suffered severe setbacks in its war against communism. Ex: Cuban incident, Berlin wall, military losses in Laos. It was becoming extremely important to re-establish America's position on the world map. Irrespective of this, for years historians have debated America's entry and position in seemingly hopeless situation such as Vietnam War. With this loss of face against communism, since Kennedy administration, it became all the more essential for President Lyndon Johnson to prove himself as a warrior against of peace which he projected himself as, throughout the Gulf of Tonkin crisis.
The secret mission of patrolling on North Vietnam coast was undertaken and was named as Desoto by the Pentagon. On 31st of July 1964, American destroyer USS Maddox began electronic intelligence collection mission in the
Gulf of Tonkin. On 2nd of August Maddox claimed that it was attacked by the North Vietnam P4 patrol torpedo boats in international waters. However the Maddox claimed to evade the torpedo attacks and had to fire back in order to defend itself. Maddox suffered very minor damages in the attack. It claimed that out of the three North-Vietnamese patrol boats, one has sunk and the other has been heavily damaged. Maddox was later joined by another destroyer Turner Joy in South Vietnamese waters.
Second Attack:
On 4th of August Maddox launched another Desoto patrol on the coast of North Vietnam. Turner Joy was also accompanying Maddox. The destroyers claimed to have received signals indicating attack from the North Vietnamese navy. The firing went on for 2 hours targets based on radar and radio signals and electronic and visual reports of the enemy. Captain Herrick sent in his message sent to Washington suggested, "Review of action makes many reported contacts, and torpedoes fired to be doubtful. Freak weather effects on radar and overeager sonar men may have accounted for many reports. No actual visual sightings by Maddox. Suggest completed evaluation of the situation before any action is taken" *. Herrick also recommended a thorough review of the situation before any decision or action to be implemented. He also stated that there could have been misunderstanding due to weather being highly unstable and unclear. The reports of torpedoes being fired were also doubtful as the torpedoes were heard and not seen. Chances were the sound of torpedoes could have been sound of the propeller, which was mistaken.
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