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Was President Johnsons decision for retaliatory acts against North Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incidents justified Or an even better question to ask is did both incidents ever really happen To answer these questions its necessary to look at some of the historical background of the region For much of Vietnams history it has been under foreign rule primarily by the Chinese In 1860 France began its domination of the area and had by the late 19th century had several colonies in a number of regions around the Gulf of Tonkin During WWII the Japanese government took control of much of the area and set up a puppet regime that was eventually forced out by the Vietnamese at the end of 1945 After WWII and until 1955 France fought hard to regain their former territories in the region their effort was wasted The French were finally defeated at Dien Bien Phu on the 8th of May 1954 by the communist general Vo Nguyen Giap The communist regime set up its headquarters in Hanoi under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh Many North Vietnamese left the country and fled south where the self-proclaimed president Ngo Dinh Diem had formed the Republic of Vietnam In the 1950s the United States began to send troops to Vietnam during the following 25-year period the war would create some of the strongest tensions in US history Almost 3 million US men and women were sent thousands of miles to fight for what was a questionable cause In total it is estimated that over 2 million people on both sides were killed On August 2 1964 three North Vietnamese patrol boats attack the American destroyer USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin ten miles off the coast of North Vietnam They fire three torpedoes and machine-guns with no resulting causalities US Navy fighters from the carrier Ticonderoga attack the patrol boats sinking one and damaging the other two
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