Thursday, October 8, 2015

Vietnam Research Writing Exercise: The Tonkin Gulf incident and the domino theory- Jared Gandelot

The Tonkin Gulf Incident occurred on August 2, 1964, when the USS Maddox was attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats while conducting an intelligence mission.  On August 4, 1964 a similar attack was reported but never actually happened. These incidences, one being completely fake lead to the start of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. On August 4, the same day the falsely reported attack happened, President Johnson gave a speech on TV, in which he described the incident and asked to undertake a military response. This led to the passing of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave President Johnson the authority to use military forces without a declaration of war. The Tonkin Gulf Incident caused much debate and lead to an almost immediate negative reaction by the American people in opposition to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.  
This is a picture taken from the USS Maddox during the first attack.

The more likely cause of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam was the fear of the spread of Communism, also known as domino theory. This idea that Communism spread from one country to the next dominated U.S. foreign policy from the 1940’s to the 1980’s and is still and influence till this day. This Cold War way of thinking was the cause of U.S. involvement around the world not just in Indochina. Proxy wars like Vietnam and Korea were about more than just those countries, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were facing off and drawing lines in the sand. The reality of domino theory is debatable though, as North Vietnam was more nationalist than Communist and wanted to gain independence rather than spread Communism.


  1. I think that the domino theory was a pretty valid idea during that time because communism could have easily spread. If I were a citizen, especially close to the Vietnam region I would be concerned about it taking over my country. However, as an American citizen during that time I would also be upset that we are involving ourselves in a war that has nothing to do with us.

  2. It is crazy to me that the government can mess up something like an attack that didn't happen. That cost thousands of lives because it lead to war. I think as a citizen i may have been pretty outraged by that.

  3. I know that a lot of people don't like the fact that this lead to a war for the U.S., but I think that the U.S. would have got involved anyways if they saw that communism was spreading. The U.S. went into Cuba when communism was taking over and the Soviet
    Union was teamed up with them. The U.S. got in arms race with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. There was never a shot fired but the tension between the two was crazy and many expected the world to be in chaos with nuclear bombs being launched.

  4. I don't understand why the government would lie about that. They may have done that to try to find a reason to send troops to Vietnam. But once they realized the war was pointless why they didn't pulls troops out.

  5. The domino theory was a really publicized theory and it makes since, it resorts to the intention of policy. Once you let one thing go, you would theoretically lose the rest so it was definitely important we stood our ground and defenseless coutries' ground to ensure no one could make a democratic country a communist country.


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