From Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

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Disbelief in Government Statements Markedly Increased During Vietnam Era

By Gerson Lesser

The old adage that truth is the first casualty of war was well demonstrated during our Vietnam intervention. I am a veteran of World War II and now almost 93 years of age. Yet hearing about the Tonkin Gulf events remains very clear my mind. I was at a lovely outdoor summer party in Connecticut, and the big news of the Gulf events provoked a good deal of active discussion. I remember arguing that the story somehow did not hold up. Ho Chi Minh was a very clever man, so why would the North Vietnamese order small torpedo boats to attack large and well armed US warships (and supporting aircraft)? The consequences could only be suicidal for the specific event, and certainly provocative of the US. The Tonkin Gulf events may or may not have been planned by our military, but in any case they were used by Lyndon Johnson to bomb North Vietnam and to get full permission from Congress to "legally" pursue a full war in Vietnam, to send hundreds of thousands of men and equipment and full air support over the next few years. It was only much later that news began to leak out that the initial story was flawed. There may have been a conflict on August 2, when US ships, in or near North Vietnam waters, fired initially, and that the August 4 "incident" was a phantom, as US ships did much firing but there were apparently no North Vietnamese ships in the area. It is my impression that Tonkin Gulf and so many releases about the Vietnam War, such as body counts, put elements of doubt in the minds of some segments of the population. More people began to analyze and show some doubt about the day to day statements from the administration and the armed services. Critical attitudes and disbelief were further stimulated during the Nixon administration, particularly with all the deceits and lies as part of awarded events.

Gerson Lesser, M.D. served during and after World War II. He was very actively opposed to the war in Vietnam, sometimes helping to arrange anti-war protests in New York and in Washington. He also helped many young men with disabilities in how to present such to draft boards. He was also on many committees opposing the draft.

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