The “Tonkin Gulf War Pretext Incidents”: When the US Wants to Start a War, it Lies … []

by Kieran Kelly

July 4, 2013

As the Obama administration maneouvres to get traction for more overt and deadly military intervention in Syria, it may be time to reflect on other times at which a US administration has tried to legitimise a military response. There were Colin Powell’s 2003 lies about WMD. In 1990 there were lies about babies being thrown out of incubators.

Susan Rice lied by telling the world that Libyan loyalist troops were being issued Viagra and instructed to commit mass rapes. When the US wants to start a war, it lies, and these are very big lies. What is more, even once the lies are discovered and broadcast our historical narrative is somehow contrived to seem as if there were no such lies. With a rigidity that rivals any “totalitarian” regime you could name it becomes impossible to deviate. Just because the US put huge amounts of time and effort into deceiving everyone in order to go to war, it doesn’t mean they wanted war. On the contrary, they were victims of their own lies…in our totalitarianism it is impossible to accuse the US regime of doing anything on purpose.

The greatest and most successful [sic] of US lies is that of the first Tonkin Gulf incident. Contrary to widespread belief, a US Naval vessel opened fire on Vietnamese vessels first on the occasion of that first incident. The US was guilty of an act of aggression. This was confirmed and aggravated by its lies about the incident, its subsequent lies about a second incident, and above all by the criminal bombing campaign it immediately launched. The truth of this has been public since 2005, but is hardly widespread knowledge. Worse still, the knowledge wasn’t even really hidden before that. Anyone with basic mathematical knowledge could work out from the official Naval history that the US initiated the exchange, and there is no evidence that the Vietnamese even tried to fire torpedoes in return. More to the point (in comparison with current accusations against Syria), no one stopped to question the underlying contention that a weak and poor state would gratuitously go out of its way to provide the US (then and now the world’s most terrifyingly armed state) with exactly the pretext it desired to wage the war it desired at the time it desired.

Moreover, it seems that Western pedagogical discourse (as embodied in textbooks) is not even capable of conveying the known information due to ideological constraints. Our level of indoctrination is such that there is no foreseeable time when a student might read a balanced account such as: “Having determined to unleash its massive military might against the Democratic People’s Republic of Vietnam, the Johnson administration sought to create a pretext. On August the 2nd a US Navy vessel attacked Vietnamese craft that were within their own territorial waters. The US claimed, rather unbelievably, that it was they who had been attacked. Following this a second ‘incident’ took place which seems to have resulted from interference with sonar and radar aboard two US vessels. Though there were no enemy vessels involved at all, this was accompanied by deliberately fabricated signals intelligence designed to convince elements within the US military and civilian command that the Vietnamese had attacked a second time, when they had never attacked at all. The Tonkin Gulf incidents were a highly successful staged pretext for open warfare that rightly should be placed alongside the Marco Polo bridge incident or the Gleiwitz incident…”

Kieran Kelly is the author of Beyond Stalemate: The Second Indochina War as a Genocidal War System. He blogs at On Genocide and his articles have been published at Sabbah Report; GlobalResearch; Op-Ed News; and the BRussels Tribunal.

Excerpted; full article link here:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: