What enters a Marine Corps base

War without End - The American War in Vietnam ...

... starts with a lie ...

On August 2 and 4, 1964, two American warships, the Maddox and Turner Joy, are allegedly shot at by North Vietnamese speedboats in the Bay of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam. The US claims its ships were on an observation mission in international waters. Washington thus justifies the bombing of the first targets in the air war against North Vietnam.

As a result, the US Congress approves the so-called Tonkin resolution. It gives President Lyndon B. Johnson a blanket power of attorney. and gives him more or less a free hand to carry out military operations in Southeast Asia.

The Tonkin resolution is used by Johnson as a substitute for the failure to declare war and thus justifies the escalation of the Vietnam War. Washington is launching Operation Pierce Arrow in retaliation for the alleged attacks on its ships. In over sixty bomber attacks against four bases and an oil depot, twenty-five torpedo boats are destroyed and the oil depot is almost completely destroyed. With this "retaliatory strike" begins a massive expansion of American military engagement.

It was not until four years later that an investigation by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee revealed that President Johnson had, by means of “outrageous mendacious claims” backed by his intelligence services, obtained authorization from Congress to carry out the air strikes. The truth: The US cruisers are on an espionage mission and are tasked with stimulating the electronic systems and radar systems of North Vietnam for the planned air strikes in order to be able to locate them. To do this, they invade the North Vietnamese three-mile sovereign zone. None of the US warships are hit by North Vietnamese torpedoes. Former Congressman George McGovern: “We now know that such aggression never took place. (...) We found out later (...) that none of the ships had been damaged. "

From 1964 to August 1973, the US and its allies used 7.662 million tons of bombs, artillery shells and other ordnance in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This is what it says in a study by the University of California, Berkeley. That is a few hundred thousand tons more than in all the scenes of the entire Second World War put together. After just two years of air warfare, between 1964 and 1966, 860,000 tons of bombs fell on North Vietnam alone. According to the Berkeley study, Vietnam is the most heavily bombed country in history.

How many human lives the Vietnam War cost can only be estimated. They go to four million Vietnamese people. Accordingly, around four times as many civilians as soldiers died in the Vietnam War. The US military registered exactly 58,220 dead US citizens between June 8, 1956 and the end of the war in 1975. The troops allied with the United States and South Vietnam lost a total of 5,264 soldiers, over 4,000 of them from South Korea.

Peter Jaeggi is a freelance author, photographer and reporter for Swiss radio SRF, Radio SWR2 and ORF1 as well as for various other national and international media. The focus is on work from social and scientific areas.

Award-winning radio features by Peter Jaeggi on Agent Orange
Part 1: https://soundcloud.com/aeschiried/spathaben-des-chemiewaffenätzees-im-vietnamkrieg-teil-1
Part 2: https://soundcloud.com/aeschiried/agent-orange-spaethaben-des

Roland Schmid is a freelance photo journalist. He works for numerous Swiss and international media and reports regularly from crisis areas. He mainly reports from Switzerland, Eastern Europe and Asia.

Text excerpts and pictures are from the book War Without End, 2016 in Lenos Verlag

Sources of supply: Agent Orange

War without end

Late effects of the Vietnam War
Agent Orange and other crimes

Concept, texts, design: Peter Jaeggi
Images: Roland Schmid (color images), National Geographic (black and white images)

ISBN: 978 3 85787 473 4