Thursday, May 25, 2006


Clay Stone here. This is my site. It's pretty neat.

Now I know the name Stone is common these days, but yes, I am famous. Well, sort of.

My granddad was this pretty cool guy named I.F. It stood for Isador Feinstein. If my name was Isador Feinstein, I'd go with I.F. too. Here's what he looked like. Some say we look different, but I think we have the same eyes. Here's a picture of me.

Well, Pappy (that's what I called him) was this amazing journalist. He didn't just accept what he was told, but rather dug deep to find the truth.

I think my favorite stuff he worked on was trying to uncover the truth about the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964. With all this fighting going on in Iraq, it's really got me thinking. The Tonkin fiasco really reminds me of the escalation into the Iraq War.

In this blog, I will be looking mainly at the Gulf of Tonkin incident and try to show what happened then and what has happened since. Was the event the perfect excuse to justify escalated military involvement in Vietnam? Did the U.S. provoke Vietnam in order to get Congressional backing to go into Southeast Asia? I'll also compare this to the Iraq War. Like Tonkin, did the Bush Administration look for an excuse to invade Iraq?

All these questions will be answered in the time to come. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Gulf of Tonkin Incident

So what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin? Well, this is what the history books would tell you:

On Aug. 2, 1964, the U.S.S. Maddox was met by three North Vietnamese patrol boats in the Gulf of Tonkin and was fired upon in International Waters. The Maddox, suffering only very minor damage, retired to South Vietnamese waters where she was joined by the destroyer C. Turner Joy.

Just two days later, both The Maddox and the C. Turner Joy were again under siege – or so they thought. The two American destroyers received radar and radio signals that they believed to signal another attack by the North Vietnamese. For some two hours the ships fired on radar targets and moved swiftly through the waters to avoid being struck by the enemy. After much study of the Tonkin incident, it appears that the U.S. ships were shooting at nothing more than water and fish – it is unlikely that any North Vietnamese forces were actually in the area during this gunfight (Wikipedia).

(Paragraph taken from here, written by a student named Zach Landres-Schnur. I don't think he'll mind.)

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

This second attack gave President Johnson all the support he needed to escalate military involvement in Vietnam. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed unanimously in the House (416-0) and had strong support in the Senate as well, with all but two of 90 Senators approving the resolution (Kenworthy, Aug. 8, 1964).

The resolution passed on August 7, 2006, and according to a New York Times article from the following day, "The resolution gives prior Congressional approval of 'all necessary measures' that the President may take 'to repel any armed attack' against United States forces and 'to prevent further aggression' " (Kenworthy, Aug. 8, 1964).

At the time, Pappy, along with the rest of the nation, probably thought LBJ was acting swiftly and with a forceful hand. Later, my grandfather and others would find out that this resolution passed under flawed information.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What Pappy found...

As I was searching through some of my granddad's old records, I came across some material. Ironically, this was not something he wrote, rather something someone else wrote about him.

An article in Journalism History discussed what Pappy started to dig up shortly after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in early August of 1964.

According to this article, Pappy found that the United States was provoking the North Vietnamese to fire upon them. Why would the Vietnamese go out of their way to pick a fight with the mighty U.S.? Well, they probably wouldn't. But U.S. forces likely provoked the North Vietnamese military to attack U.S. ships (Blissert).

Also, my grandfather found that the second attack on U.S. ships -- the attack that prompted the government to invade Vietnam -- likely never happened.

Edwin Moise, a scholar who wrote the book, Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War, finds more evidence about what happened during that second, alleged attack.

"Almost everyone on the two destroyers believed, during the incident, that they were under attack. Some still believe so, while others have since decided that what had appeared on radar screens as torpedo boats had actually been false images generated by weather conditions, birds, or American planes overhead. Consideration of all of the evidence—the testimony of U.S. personnel from the two destroyers and of pilots who were overhead, declassified U.S. records, communications intercepts, interrogation of North Vietnamese torpedo boat personnel captured later in the war, etc.—leads to a clear conclusion: there was no attack. But the original report of an attack was not a lie concocted to provide an excuse for escalation; it was a genuine mistake"(Moise).

Moise finds that the second attack was not a cover-up, but rather was a series of mistakes and heightened fear that caused those on board to feel they were being attacked.

A short time later though, the government likely began to question whether or not the second attack actually happened. However, as my grandfather found, the U.S. government deceived the country by suggesting that there was complete certainty about the second attack (Blissert).

Pappy was probably scared at this time because he was uncovering something big. He was out on his own and not too many people believed him. Others probably thought my grandfather was crazy. If they only knew...

So did the U.S. use the second -- and likely false -- attack as an excuse to invade Vietnam?

I, like my grandfather, would say yes.

I did some research and stumbled on to some audio recordings between President Johnson and Defense Secretary, Robert S. McNamara. There is a conversation, from the morning of August 4, 1964, which Johnson and McNamara discuss retaliatory action against the North Vietnamese. President Johnson says to McNamara, "(you) should pull one of these things that you've...been doing...on one of their bridges or something."

According to this web page, which is a part of the National Security Archive, "This is a clear reference to the OPLAN-34A raids, confusion about which had been a factor in the initial Tonkin Gulf engagement on August 2. Here LBJ suggests a measure that would actually increase Hanoi's incentives to fight" (LBJ Tapes).

This conversation basically says that the U.S. is ready to attack North Vietnam.

Funny thing though: this conversation occurred before Johnson and McNamara had gotten word about the alleged second attack!

It seems that the U.S. was prepared to go to war anyway, and this second attack gave the perfect excuse to heighten military involvement in Southeast Asia.

Monday, May 22, 2006

All this Tonkin stuff sounds familiar...

Maybe it is because it has happened again. President Bush, always an advocate for pre-emption, went into Iraq and increased military force because of the United States' fear of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). But perhaps those WMDs did not even exist.

"North Vietnamese gunboats did not attack U.S. warships in the Gulf of Tonkin, anymore than Saddam threatened to attack us with his nonexistent WMDs," said Arnaud de Borchgrave in a Washington Times article.

When action in Congress started to stir in 2002, there was similar debate about invading Iraq over the threat of WMDs. Some were all for pre-emption, others -- mainly Sen. Robert Byrd (D- West Virginia) -- remembered the past.

"Let's go back to the war in Vietnam," said Byrd. "I was here. I was one of the Senators who voted for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Yes, I voted for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. I am sorry for that. I am guilty of doing that. I should have been one of the two, or at least I should have made it three, Senators who voted against that Gulf of Tonkin resolution. But I am not wanting to commit that sin twice, and that is exactly what we are doing here. This is another Gulf of Tonkin resolution" (Elliot).

If this is, in fact, another Gulf of Tonkin -- which led to one of the bloodiest wars the United States has ever been a part of -- why the hell are we still in Iraq?

So Pappy found all sorts of good information on the Gulf of Tonkin and the action that took place shortly after.

It's too bad my grandfather isn't around now to be digging deep to find what is really going on with the war in Iraq.

Nevertheless, my grandfather has inspired me, and likely others, to not take the common word as truth. In Tonkin, like what is currently going on in Iraq, the government's involvement in wars that are getting thousands of people killed is all based on faulty information.

If we can learn from my granddad, we will question the "facts" that are presented to us and try to uncover the truth and discover what is really going on.


Blissert, J. "Guerrilla journalist: I.F. Stone and Tonkin.: Journalism History. Autumn 1997. Vol. 23, Iss. 3. Retrieved from Proquest Databases on May 10, 2006.

Borchgrave, A. "Iraq and the Gulf of Tonkin." The Washington Times. Retrieved on May 24, 2006 from

Elliot, J. "Iraq Debate: 'This is another Gulf of Tonkin.'" Retrieved on May 24, 2006 from

Kenworthy, E. "Resolution Wins." New York Times, 8 Aug., 1964. Retrieved from Proquest Database on May 8, 2006.

Landres-Schnur, Z. "Gulf of Tonkin." Retrieved from May 22, 2006 from Com. 495 Wiki. Web site:

"LBJ Tapes on the Gulf of Tonkin Incident." The White House Tapes. New York: The New Press, 2003. Retrieved on May 8, 2006 from

Moise, E. "Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War." Retrieved May 24, 2006 from

Retrieved May 22, 2006, from from Web site: