WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 07 2001
LBJ tape 'confirms Vietnam war error'
FROM MARTIN FLETCHER IN WASHINGTON
PRESIDENT Johnson admitted in a secret tape recording that the incident he used to win congressional approval for the Vietnam war probably never happened, according to a book published yesterday.
In 1964, days after an alleged North Vietnamese attack on US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, Congress approved a resolution authorising the President to take “all necessary steps, including the use of force” to help America’s southeast Asian allies.
Johnson used the “Gulf of Tonkin resolution” to drag America ever deeper into the Vietnam war — to the consternation of many Congressmen.
In a secret recording Johnson berated Robert McNamara, his Defence Secretary, for misleading him. “You said: ‘Damn, they are launching an attack on us, they are firing on us.’ When we got through with all the firing, we concluded maybe they hadn’t fired at all.”
The book, Reaching for Glory, was edited by the historian Michael Beschloss from Johnson’s tapes and the diary of Lady Bird, his wife.