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Historical Thoughts and Interpretations

President Johnson’s Fateful Choice in Vietnam

Description

In March 1964, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara sent a memorandum to President Johnson, reporting on the situation in South Vietnam, which at the time was contending with the Viet Cong, a Communist, North Vietnam-supported insurgency. Though McNamara's memorandum put the option of American escalation against North Vietnam on the table, it recommended against it at the time. Then a few months later, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident happened. Soon later, Johnson committed America to an intense intervention in the war. Was Johnson justified in this? While considering hindsight and information available at the time, this podcast attempts to answer that question.

An article by Lieutenant Commander Pat Paterson about the Gulf of Tonkin incident can be found here. McNamara's Memorandum to Johnson can be read here.

Much of this podcast was recorded in mid-December 2021.

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