The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, February 26, 2005
 

Tonkin Gulf: Moyers still shilling for LBJ after all these years...


I get why Bill Moyers became a darling of the left: beggars can't be choosers, and the massed ranks of right-wing media are opposed by a pretty thin blue line.

But, first and foremost, Moyers was a lackey of Lyndon Johnson, and his Press Secretary over the period of greatest expansion of combat forces in Vietnam [1], and therefore a key component in the Johnson Lie Machine [2].

And he still just can't help himself, if this interview is anything to go by.

Invited to compare the effect of anti-war protest on the Johnson and Bush II presidencies, Moyers says, inter alia,
Lyndon Johnson misinterpreted the events in the Gulf of Tonkin and too quickly committed the U.S. to escalating the war on the basis of inadequate information.

That is the only statement I think I have seen by Moyers on the Tonkin Gulf Incidents (on which there have been numerous pieces here) - and it is well up to the standard of Robert McNamara's mendacious performance before Congressional committees in August 1964.

In particular, McNamara's failure to associate the OPLAN 34-A operations (the latest of which had come around the beginning of August) with the attack on the Maddox that constituted the first of the Incidents - the fabrication he was peddling was that the attack was unprovoked.

And that attack was pretty much mission accomplished for the 34-A raids, which were intended to elicit a reaction from the DRV which would justify as proportionate response the sort of bombing operations that took place following the second, imaginary, attack. The intention, as I recall, was not so much to affect DRV policy, but to bolster the confidence of, and calm down, the military junta in charge of SVN; and, as important, to nail Barry Goldwater as an extremist by a move that was both decisive and limited [3].

In which context, misinterpreted is about as misleading as you could get without uttering a lie (strictly so called).

  1. From July 1965 to January 1967; there should be a monthly analysis of US forces (a) authorised for deployment to Vietnam; and (b) in theatre, but I can't lay my hands on one right now. This timeline is suggestive.

  2. Lie in an extended sense, encompassing all forms of manipulation of the truth, framing, being economical with the truth, and so on. There is unfortunately no word as succinct as lie which covers all this, so lie will have to do.

  3. I'm not sure whether this was before or after the daisy ad ran. I've seen in various places the suggestion that Moyers was concerned in devising, or, at any rate, in approving the use of, that ad. No idea of truth (if any) in that.


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