HomePoliticsThe Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Redux

For those too young to know what the Gulf of Tonkin Incident involved, read this article for an introduction. Lyndon Baines Johnson used the alleged attack as a pretext for ramping up the war in Vietnam, which I was a part of as an aviation electrician’s mate in a squadron of F-4J fighter jets on board the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk (CVA-63). I know whereof I speak.

Now, the New York Daily News and the Wall Street Journal are beating the war drums, as usual. For them, the latest piracy incident involving the Maersk Alabama in the Gulf of Aden is an excuse to carpet bomb the small coastal villages of Somalia from which the pirates launch their missions.

There is, as always, another side to this story; one that is never reported by the corporate media here in the United States. Human Rights Watch, a respected organization devoted to human rights world-wide, published an article by Chris Albin-Lackey on the Somalia crisis on December 29, 2008. If you are interested in why there is a piracy problem in the Gulf of Aden, you will learn a lot there. You will learn much more than by reading the chest-thumping articles by the bullies at the Wall Street Journal, listening to the ignorant parrots on the cable “news” channels, or reading the vitriolic demagoguery at the New York Daily News.

As an interim solution (the policy recommendations proffered by Mr. Albin-Lackey will take a long time to put into effect, if ever), I’d like to offer a simple solution: construct armored platforms at the mid-point on each side of the cargo ships so that an armed observer can see approaching pirates who might attempt to scale the sides of the ships. Floodlights would illuminate the sides of the ships at night. When pirates approach (if they were foolish enough), they could then be dealt with appropriately.

Is there no reason why this would not work? Why must over-whelming military force be the be-all and end-all of United States foreign policy? It is way past time to put the bellicose grand-standing led by George W. Bush and the right-wing false patriots who have never gone to war to rest. I’m almost 60 years old and I have witnessed violent “solutions” to political problems my entire adult life. Those violent “solutions” have never worked. It is time to try something different.


The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Redux — 2 Comments

  1. Jeff,

    Followed you here from Fred’s Fragments blog – looking forward to exploring your site,

    I’m here at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, Africa – joint forces “helping Africans solve African challenges” as the lingo goes… (did you catch my eyes rolling there?) just thought you might find it interesting that the everyman conversations at the chow hall with CNN and Fox news blaring on about this episode, lean toward your suggestion. Why aren’t these ships carrying weapons and defense personnel, with all the piracy going on? We can’t figure it out.

    Sure is ramping up here though, looking like more of the same business as usual… I was onboard the USS Constellation in 2003 as we headed in to the Gulf, watching Colin Powell plead the case that launched our “shock-and-awe” rampage on Iraq. Connie was night carrier, Lincoln was day, for 24-hour flight ops – quite the thing to be a part of.

    Hard to say from my perch how this piracy issue will be dealt with; I’m not holding my breath for any change in policy though. Sad to say. Seems like it would be easier to arm the cargo ships, we have a hard time believing the shipping companies have not thought of that, or is it that they can’t? Or are they just depending on the military solution to save the day?

    • Kay,

      I appreciate your thoughts! I’m pleased to know that my suggestion doesn’t color me “crazy.” I’d venture to say that perhaps the explanation might be profits. As in the ship companies not wanting to spend the money it would take to outfit the ships with defensive measures or to pay for armed escort ships. It is always cheaper to let the government pay for protection, right? You might find The Conservative Nanny State an interesting read.

      The Constellation (CVA-64) was one of the other ships on rotation in the Gulf of Tonkin when I was on the Kitty Hawk. She left San Diego about two months before the Kitty Hawk did in 1972. And you are right, 24 hour flight ops are impressive indeed. I “slept” three decks below the flight deck and sleeping was nearly impossible with jets landing on the “roof” every few hours. Between the launchings on the angled flight deck and the recoveries directly above me, I didn’t get much rest!

      Good to hear from the front lines!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>