Image by Anthony Freda www.FredaArt.com
We now know that The Gulf of Tonkin Incident ( the claim that two U.S. destroyers were attacked by North Vietnamese PT boats) was a lie.
This falsehood provided the moral pretext to launch a massive escalation of the Vietnam War.
Johnson’s deceitful speech of Aug. 4, 1964, won accolades from editorial writers. The president proclaimed the New York Times, “went to the American people last night with the somber facts.” The Los Angeles Times urged Americans to “face the fact that the Communists, by their attack on American vessels in international waters, have themselves escalated the hostilities.”
Without the benefit of real, independent journalism, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution — a pseudo-declaration of war against North Vietnam — was approved by Congress on Aug. 7. (Two brave senators, Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska, provided the only “no” votes.) The resolution authorized the president “to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.”
Exactly as they did in the run-up to the Iraq War, the mainstream media exclusively relied on U.S. government officials as sources of information and refused to question official narratives on national security issues. How could we possibly not have learned the simple but profound message that we should be extremely wary of any evidence provided to us by the unholy alliance of the corporate press and U.S. intelligence agencies? They have the blood of millions on their hands and Burns does a great disservice to history and humanity by failing to lay blame where it belongs.
Daniel Hallin’s book The “Uncensored War” observes that journalists had “a great deal of information available which contradicted the official account [of Tonkin Gulf events]; it simply wasn’t used. The same can be said about the WMD lies which were promoted by government officials and the MSM in 2003. In 1965, Lyndon Johnson commented: “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.” In 2016, Colin Powell said of his WMD presentation to the United Nations, "Of course I regret that a lot of it turned out to be wrong,"
Christopher Koch, the first American reporter to visit North Vietnam reviewed the Burn's documentary:
"It’s the lack of accountability, the failure to prosecute those who lied to get us into the war, who encouraged battlefield tactics that resulted in the massacre of women and children, who authorized the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets, who drenched Vietnam in chemical poisons that will cause birth defects and death for generation.
Burns and Novick also portray the peace movement in the worst possible terms. In at least three places, they have moving sound bites about how returning soldiers were spat on or in other ways disrespected. It’s a false memory, at least in any general sense. They couldn’t find any visual support, no signs about baby killers because it didn’t happen."
"The moral center of the Vietnam War was held by those who opposed it.
Burns suggests Vietnam’s a tragedy. It’s not. In tragedy, a powerful human makes a terrible mistake and suffers the consequences. No one suffered any consequences for Vietnam. Burns assures us that even if people did wrong, they didn’t mean to."
By not holding the media and government officials who lied us into this horrific war accountable, and by regurgitating discredited talking points which were designed to malign the anti-war movement at the time, Burns has reinforced the false mythology of the Vietnam War and failed to use his platform to teach the American people the essential and true lessons we should have learned from that nightmare.