President John F Kennedy opposed efforts by the CFR and other nefarious groups in the US to become involved in the Vietnam War, this is cited as one possible reason for his assassination in Houston, Texas on 23rd November 1963. Lyndon B. Johnson as incoming president following the JFK assassination was more agreeable to the US entering the war, either through agreement or fear.
The Vietnam War was a Cold War military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of South Vietnam, supported by the US and other anti-communist nations. The Viet Cong, a lightly armed South Vietnamese communist-controlled common front, largely fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The Vietnam People’s Army (North Vietnamese Army) engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units into battle. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery and airstrikes.
The US government viewed involvement in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam and part of their wider strategy of containment. The North Vietnamese government viewed the war as a colonial war, fought initially against France, backed by the US, and later against South Vietnam, which it regarded as a US puppet state. US military advisors arrived beginning in 1950. U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s, with U.S. troop levels tripling in 1961 and tripling again in 1962. U.S. combat units were deployed beginning in 1965. Operations spanned borders, with Laos and Cambodia heavily bombed. Involvement peaked in 1968 at the time of the Tet Offensive. After this, U.S. ground forces were withdrawn as part of a policy called Vietnamization. Despite the Paris Peace Accords, signed by all parties in January 1973, fighting continued.
The Case–Church Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress prohibited use of American military after 15 August 1973, unless the president secured congressional approval in advance. The capture of Saigon by the North Vietnamese army in April 1975 marked the end of the Vietnam War. North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities. Estimates as to the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from less than one to more than three million. Some 200,000–300,000 Cambodians, 20,000–200,000 Laotians, and 58,159 US service members also died in the conflict.
The Gulf of Tonkin Incident
In the Gulf of Tonkin incident, North Vietnamese torpedo boats supposedly attacked the USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin, off Vietnam, in a pair of assaults on August 2nd and 4th of 1964. It was the basis for the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which committed major American forces to the war in Vietnam. The resolution passed the House of Representatives unanimously, and passed in the Senate with only two dissenting votes.
In retrospect it is clear that the alleged attack was little more than a transparent pretext for war, delivered in a one-two punch. First, media descriptions of the August 2nd attack as an “unprovoked attack” against a U.S. destroyer on “routine patrol” hid the fact that the Maddox was providing support for South Vietnamese military operations against the North. Second, the alleged August 4th attack appears to be a fabrication, official accounts attributing the “error” to confusion.