The administration rushed the resolution to Congress the following day, August 5, before any investigation of Humphrey’s allegations could be investigated and substantiated. Introduced under the title, “Joint Resolution to promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia,” the resolution mixed a deceptive version of events in the Gulf of Tonkin with illusory claims of protecting the people of Southeast Asia, as prelude to authorizing “the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” This was an open-ended declaration of war, but few members of Congress realized it at the time.
Yet Lyndon Johnson chose war. In the aftermath of his election, he waited only for the right moment to bomb North Vietnam and to deploy large numbers of U.S. combat troops in the south, judging that such actions must be seen as defensive. The moment came on February 7, 1965, when NLF soldiers attacked Camp Holloway, a small airbase near the city of Pleiku, killing nine Americans and wounding 126, and destroying ten aircraft. Johnson immediately initiated a bombing attack on four pre-selected targets in North Vietnam (Operation Flaming Dart), carried out by 132 U.S. and 22 South Vietnamese planes. A few days later, on February 13, he approved a sustained bombing campaign (Operation Rolling Thunder) against North Vietnam. China, meanwhile, declared on February 15 that it would enter the war if the United States invaded North Vietnam.
We are less concerned with autocracy that is abroad and remote than that which is immediate, imminent and at home. If we are to fight an autocracy the place to begin is where we first encounter it. If we are to break anybody's chains we must first break our own in the forging. If we must fight and die it is better that we do it upon soil that is dear to us against our masters, then for them where foreign shores will drink our blood. Better mutiny, defiance and the death of brave men with the light of morning upon our brows, than the ignominy of slaves and death with the mark of Cain and our hand spattered with the blood of those we have no reason to hate.
For their role in helping to publish and distribute the flyer, Hulet Wells, Sam Sadler, and Joe and Morris Pass were charged with sedition. On September 13th, 1917, the trial of Wells and his co-conspirators began. The famous labor attorney George Vanderveer represented the defendants against the prosecutor Allen Clay. During the trial evidence was presented that revealed local police had been used throughout the anti-war period to spy on labor and left-wing organizations, and gathered evidence of “anti-patriotic” activities. This confirmed the atmosphere of fear by the left – the agents of business and government had infiltrated many of the union locals and left-wing organizations. Despite several unsuccessful efforts by Vanderveer to have the case thrown out and an impassioned speech by Wells, the first trial ended with a split jury. However, this setback did not stop the state prosecutor from holding a second trial on February 1918. This time, the same judge extolled the jury to perform their patriotic duties and stated, “There are only two sides to the war. One side is in favor of this country; the other is against it.” After a short trial, Wells and his co-conspirators were convicted of sedition and sentenced to two years.
During the last months of the war, the Viet Minh formed an alliance with American forces against the Japanese. U.S. agents from the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), relied on Viet Minh networks for intelligence information and for assistance in rescuing downed American airmen. OSS officer Major Archimedes Patti was in charge of training some 400 Viet Minh soldiers in the use of American weapons. He was impressed with their courage and tenacity as well as with Ho Chi Minh’s leadership qualities. The OSS appointed Ho “Agent 19” and gave him a gift of six revolvers. Ho appreciated the gift, but America’s friendship was far more important. He hoped it would help him secure Vietnamese national independence after the war.
Wells, The War Within, p. 427; Appy, American Reckoning, p. 195; and Penny Lewis, Hardhats, Hippies, and Hawks: The Vietnam Antiwar Movement as Myth and Memory (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013), p. 53.
Terry H. Anderson, “Vietnam Is Here: The Antiwar Movement,” in David L. Anderson and John Ernst, eds., The War That Never Ends: New Perspectives on the Vietnam War (Lexington: Univ. of Kentucky Press, 2007), p. 259; and Seymour M. Lipset, “Polls and Protests,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 49, Issue 3 (April 1971), p. 549.
Wells, The War Within, p. 389; and Henry Kamm, “Vietnamese Say G.I.’s Slew 567 in Town,” New York Times, November 17, 1969. Nixon periodically went into rages and his slur against Jews should take into account the fact that his closest adviser was the German Jewish émigré Henry Kissinger.
“Vietnam Background: Congress and the war: Years of Support,” Congressional Quarterly online; and Donald A. Ritchie, “Advice and Dissent: Mike Mansfield and the Vietnam War,” in Randall B. Woods, ed., Vietnam and the American Political Tradition: The Politics of Dissent (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 199.
Senate “doves” included George McGovern (D-South Dakota), Frank Church (D-Idaho), Eugene McCarthy (D-Minnesota), John Sherman Cooper (R-Kentucky), Mark Hatfield (R-Oregon), Clifford Case (R-New Jersey), Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin), Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), Edmund Muskie (D-Maine), Alan Cranston (D-California), Al Gore Sr. (D-Tennessee), Joseph Clark (D-Pennsylvania), Harold Hughes (D-Iowa), Charles Goodell (R-New York), and Stephen Young (D-Ohio), with moderate support from Mike Mansfield (D-Montana), J. William Fulbright (D-Arkansas), and George Aiken (R-Vermont). The two foremost critics of the war in earlier years, Wayne Morse (D-Oregon) and Ernest Gruening (D-Alaska), were defeated in the November 1968 Congressional elections. Goodell was defeated in 1970.
DeBenedetti, An American Ordeal, p. 248; and Terry H. Anderson, “Vietnam is Here,” in Anderson and Ernst, eds., The War That Never Ends, p. 258.
DeBenedetti, An American Ordeal, p. 254; and Wells, The War Within, p. 328. Nixon, in his acceptance speech at the Republican national convention on August 8, 1968, pledged “an honorable end to the war in Vietnam.”
DeBenedetti, An American Ordeal, pp. 244-46, 248; Small, Antiwarriors, p. 105-106; and Max Frankel, “Nixon Has Begun Program to End War in Vietnam,” New York Times, April 6, 1969.