Letter: A familiar war story

Published: 5/19/2019 12:01:21 AM

We have seen this movie before (at least some of us over 60). When President Lyndon Johnson needed an excuse to land U.S. Marines in Vietnam, he used naval forces to stage an incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. The U.S.S. Maddox was supposedly attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats and was “forced to retaliate.” The Gulf of Tonkin resolution allowed Johnson to land the Marines and escalate the war. There never was an actual attack.

President Donald Trump’s high-stakes gamble in the Straits of Hormuz allows for a repeat of Johnson’s mistake, with even greater consequences for the Middle East. It is true that we still have the War Powers Act, based in part on Johnson’s duplicitous actions, but once the shooting starts, it’s very hard to stop when our troops are in peril. The narrow confines of those straits virtually ensure that a carrier task force will be “rubbing hulls” with Iranian torpedo boats. Trump’s foreign policy is all stick and no carrot. If it is true that “everything Trump touches dies” (the title of a recent book), let’s not have it be American sailors and soldiers.

PHILIP MEAD

Concord




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