No Wider War

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In August 1964, U.S. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered bombing raids on North Vietnam naval installations following an alleged attack from North Vietnamese gunboats in the Gulf of Tonkin. In a televised address, Johnson stated that the military response would be “limited and fitting,” promising, “we still seek no wider war.” The Gulf of Tonkin resolution was swiftly passed, allowing for “all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent any further aggression.” This granted Johnson the power to enact war in Vietnam without a formal congressional declaration. In November 1964, Johnson won the presidential election in a landslide.

Johnson had already approved a secret bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in May of 1964, and in February 1965, he ordered Operation Rolling Thunder. This series of bombing raids, partially responding to a Viet Cong attack on a U.S. air base, were intended to cut supply lines and commenced until October 1968. The U.S. presence in Vietnam steadily increased and peaked at roughly 550,000 military personnel in 1968. Antiwar sentiment spread in America, becoming more popular in 1967. Dissent towards the president included a protest song by Phil Ochs titled “No Wider War.” 


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Radio and television report to the American people following renewed aggression in the Gulf of Tonkin. Radio and Television Report to the American People Following Renewed Aggression in the Gulf of Tonkin | The American Presidency Project. (1964, August 4).…;

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We Seek No Wider War. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. (n.d.).…;

Catalog ID CA0947