War and Deception - President George Bush and President Lyndon Johnson

Powerful Essays
The responsibilities of a presidential administration to the United States should be easily defined, but in many instances have come to be uncertain. There are two wars over the last century that have compromised the American reputation, as well as the integrity of our people. On these two occasions the intentions of our president have been something different than publicized to the country. The United States as a whole was deceived by two particular leaders and their administration. Through propaganda, selective speech, and exaggerated evidence, Presidents Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush manipulated the support of the nation for their bold military actions and personal agendas.

In August of 1964 there was an alleged attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats against the United States navy while they were stationed in the Tonkin Gulf reporting intelligence information to South Vietnam. This attack was said to have occurred with no provocation from the United States. President Lyndon Johnson and his advisers decided upon immediate retaliation with air attacks. Johnson went further in asking Congress to pass a resolution that would authorize further military action. The Tonkin Gulf Resolution was passed by Congress on August seventh. This has been described by historians as a “blank check” for the Johnson and Nixon administrations (Nelson, 452). It gave the president great authority over decisions made about the war in Vietnam. Both Johnson and Nixon cited the Tonkin Gulf Resolution many times during their terms to justify further military action in Southeast Asia.

In 1968, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee performed investigations that revealed that Johnson had been deceptive in gaining the support of Congress. Records and testimonies showed that the U.S. ship attacked that August day in 1964 was actually in North Vietnamese territory gathering sensitive information. It was also revealed that the administration was aware that an attack was possible while in these waters (Nelson, 452). There were also further revelations of the deception of President Johnson. In 1995, Vo Nguyen Giap, a retired Vietnamese general met with former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara. In this meeting, Giap repeatedly denied that the Tonkin Gulf attack had ever happened. Also, in 2001, a taped conversation between Lyndon Johnson and McNamara exposed Johnson’s o...

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...nd lose respect for the United States. These actions have caused us to look like power hungry, arrogant intruders around the world. The deception of the government needs to be terminated. The foreign policy and actions of the United States needs to be made public. Citizens need to be made aware of the government’s intentions, so as to create a wider support group or to give us the right to protest and stop actions they do not agree with.

Work Cited

Bunch, William. “Invading Iraq not a new idea for Bush clique.” Philly Daily News. 27 January 2003.

Davidson, Kenneth. “The Real Reasons America is Invading Iraq.” The Age. 20 March 2003.

Ellsburg, Daniel. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York:

Viking Penguin, 2002.

Martin, Patrick. “What happened to Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’?”

International Committee of the Fourth International. 22 April 2003.

Nelson, Michael. The Presidency A to Z. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1998.

Scheer, Christopher. “Ten Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq.” Alternet. 27 June 2003.

“Weapons of Mass Destruction: Who Said What When.” Counter Punch. 29 May 2003.
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