Mark K. Updegrove

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President Lyndon B. Johnson in Vietnam in 1966. Credit Yoichi Okamoto/LBJ Presidential Library

On the morning of May 27, 1964, a little more than two months before the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution sailed through the House and Senate, allowing the White House the military authority to do what was needed in Southeast Asia, President Lyndon B. Johnson made two phone calls.

The first, which phone logs show he made at 10:55, was with Senator Richard B. Russell, the Georgia Democrat who headed the Armed Services Committee. “What do you think about this Vietnam thing?” Johnson asked the senator, a longtime friend and mentor. “I’d like to hear you talk a little.”

“Frankly, Mr. President,” Russell replied, “if you were to tell me that I was authorized to settle it as I saw fit, I would respectfully decline to undertake it.…  Seguir leyendo »