Vietnam & the 20th Century Experience
July 25, 2013
There were many incidents during the Vietnam War that one could call a “turning point”. These include the 1963 Buddhist riots, the coup against Diem in 1963, President Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution on 1964, and the presidential elections in 1964. With that in mind, the attack on the USS MADDOX in 1964was also a key turning point for American involvement in the war.
In August 1964, North Vietnam intentionally attacked the USS MADDOX. The first incident occurred on August 2, 1964. Patrol boats were sent by the Vietnamese to sink the MADDOX, however the MADDOX sunk the patrol boats and left the area (Farrell). The supposed second incident occurred two days later when the MADDOX and the USS Turner Joy believed themselves to be under attack again though there was never any evidence to support the attack. These were the first intentional attacks brought against the U.S. by the North Vietnamese. Because of that it should be considered to be a major turning point and not just another event in war.
These intentional attacks showed the Vietnamese intent to fight the U.S. when there had not previously been the intent. America had to act on this and they did so by creating the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. The resolution states “the Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attacks against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression. The United States is therefore prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom” (Moss, 2010)With that we were prepared to act on any attacks if necessary....
References: Farrell, J. To start a war: The Tonkin gulf incident. Retrieved from http://www.audifaz.com/coldwar/tonkin.htm
Moss, G.D. (2010). Vietnam: an American ordeal (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
1. Why were the events immediately preceding the turning point necessary and essential in preparing for the turning point?
2. What subsequent event or events were dependent on the action of the turning point; also, what possible event or events became impossible because the turning point occurred?
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