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IN RETROSPECT:
THE TRAGEDY AND LESSONS OF VIETNAM

ROBERT S. MCNAMARA WITH BRIAN VANDEMARK


5. The Tonkin Gulf Resolution:
July 30-August 7, 1964

(selections from pp. 142-143)

Finally, I told the senator that he had asked the wrong question. The issue did not come down to legalities. It involved at its most basic level a question of politics; should a president take our nation to war (other than immediately to repel an attack on our shores) without popular consent as voiced by Congress? I said no president should, and I believed President Bush would not. He did not. Before President Bush began combat operations against Iraq, he sought--and obtained--Congress's support (as well as that of the U.N. Security Council).

President Bush was right. President Johnson, and those of us who served with him, were wrong.


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