The Tonkin Incident Of September 4th 1964 Essay

The Tonkin Incident Of September 4th 1964 Essay

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The Tonkin Incident of August 4th 1964 was an extremely controversial and pivotal event. Its resulted in the passing of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution by the US Congress on the 7th August 1964 and subsequently led to a course of action by the American Government of the time which would have far reaching and grave consequences. The escalation of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War (1954-1975)was the direct result which caused millions of deaths and still casts a shadow over America’s foreign policy to this very day. In the US controversy surrounding the incident had caused the public to question the integrity of the government and leaders. In New Zealand, drawn into the Vietnam Conflict by alliances with the US and Australia and it’s SEATO membership, it further caused a questioning of our strategic alliances and our own foreign policy. To fully understand the origins and consequences of the incident, it is important to briefly consider the worldwide political landscape that existed after World War Two and leading up to the event.

America and the Allies had emerged victorious from World War Two. America was a worldwide superpower in comparison to the old Colonial powers of Britain and France which were exhausted after the war and in decline. However the Communist USSR was also very powerful and China had embraced communism as well. “By the summer of 1950… the geopolitical landscape looked remarkably different: the Soviet Union had detonated an atomic bomb, Chinese communists had completed their conquest of the mainland, Senator Joseph McCarthy had initiated his now infamous campaign against “softness” toward communism, and the United States was involved in a full-scale war against a Soviet satellite in Korea. In such a politic...


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...to be covert operations and intelligence gathering from North Vietnam known as the DESOTO patrols.“The U.S Destroyer Maddox, an intelligence gathering vessel, was patrolling the Gulf about 15 kilometres off the North Vietnamese coast, collecting information on North Vietnam’s defence system under the OPLAN 34A. The patrol was code named Desoto.” It was an undisputed attack on the Maddox by North Vietnamese forces on August 2nd, 1964, that set the scene for the alleged August 4th attack. Following the alleged attack on August 4th, the Tonkin Resolution was immediately passed by the United States Congress which allowed the American President to authorise military operations in Vietnam. And so, the climate was set for a tumultuous conflict in Vietnam which had repercussions which affected many people and societies, including New Zealand,and continue to do so even today.

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