The Era of Henry Kissinger


In the 1960s, as the Cold war was escalating in Vietnam, President Johnson asked his National Security Advisor and member of Scull and Bones, McGeorge Bundy, to put together a Peace Panel which would consist of core members of the group of foreign policy advisers known as “the Wise Man”. This group included men who shaped the American policy since the times of the Second World War: Dean Acheson, Robert Lovett and Rockefeller's man, John McCloy. With regards to the war in Vietnam, the panel concluded that the situation would remain critical but should the United States withdraw at this stage, it was likely Thailand would fall, and Japan and India would be in jeopardy. Throughout the following years Averell Harriman, with backing from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, made attempts to persuade the administration in Washington to opt for businesslike approach with the Soviets and corresponded extensively on this subject with Robert Kennedy, whose opposition to the war was becoming increasingly outspoken. President Johnson's policies were in turn supported by Henry Kissinger, political science professor of German-Jewish descent at Harvard University, who assisted Nelson Rockefeller as his part-time advisor and speech-writer.416 During the Second World War, Henry Kissinger served with the U.S. military intelligence in Germany and after 1945, he worked at Camp David, on the outskirts of Oberursel, north west of Frankfurt, which was an interrogation and intelligence gathering centre. This is where in 1946 General Reinhard Gehlen arrived on the post and established the Gehlen Organisation, which later went on to become the BND (or Budesnachrichtendienst or "Federal Intelligence Service"), cooperating closely with the CIA.417 418 In 1950, Henry Kissinger received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in political science from Harvard College. In his Harvard thesis he wrote that: “History [is] an endless unfolding of a cosmic beat that expresses itself in the sole alternatives of subject and object, a vast succession of catastrophic upheavals of which power is not only the manifestation but the exclusive aim; a STIMULUS OF BLOOD that not only pulses through veins but must be shed and will be shed.”419 In the next years Henry Kissinger received his MA and PhD degrees and remained at Harvard as a member of the faculty in the Department of Government. He worked as advisor at various organisations and bodies that were associated with the U.S. corporate elites and U.S. government, including Rand Corporation, National Security Council, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Director of Psychological Strategy Board, among many others.

In the 1960s, President Johnson and Henry Kissinger wanted to intensify the campaign against North Vietnam (otherwise known as Democratic Republic of Vietnam, DVR) but needed a good reason to justify the increased US military engagement. Already since 1961, CIA and Department of Defense supervised a highly classified program of covert actions against North Vietnam known as Operation Plan 34-Alpha consisting of insertion of CIA-recruited spies, aerial reconnaissance missions and naval sabotage operations along North Vietnamese coast. The U.S. Navy destroyers, which were equipped with a mobile “van” of signals intelligence equipment, aimed to collect intelligence and assert freedom of navigation in international waters. In July 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox was sent to patrol the waters off the North Vietnamese coastline, in the GULF OF TONKIN, particularly to identify coastal radar transmitters and maritime supply routes to DVR and Viet Cong. At the same time the South Vietnamese Navy conducted strikes on multiple North Vietnamese islands. In the early August 1964, three North Vietnamese patrol boats began to track the USS destroyer. On August 2, USS Maddox fired warning shots in the direction of North Vietnamese torpedo boats which responded by launching an attack. USS Maddox radioed that it was under attack and the US officials ordered nearby aircraft from the USS Ticonderoga to fly in as a back up. As the enemy vessels launched their torpedoes, U.S. forces attacked them from above and below, severely damaging the boats. USS Maddox evaded torpedo attack and sailed off. The next day USS Maddox once again resumed its normal patrol, this time alongside another USS navy destroyer, the USS Turner Joy. On August 4, during rough weather conditions and reduced visibility, the US destroyers received radar, sonar, and radio signals that they believed signaled another attack by the North Vietnamese navy. The approaching vessels seemed to come at the ships from multiple directions. Targets would disappear, and then new targets would appear from the opposite compass direction. For some four hours the US ships fired on radar targets and manoeuvred vigorously amid electronic and visual reports of enemies. Commander James Stockdale, then a navy pilot at the scene, reported later: “I had the best seat in the house to watch that event and our destroyers were just shooting at phantom targets—there were no PT boats there . . . there was nothing there but black water and American firepower.”420

Although there had been no attack on part of North Vietnamese forces, the staff at U.S. National Security Agency deliberately skewed the evidence to make it appear that an attack had indeed occurred.421 Namely, the NSA provided only such SIGINT information to the Johnson administration that supported the claim that the North Vietnamese had attacked the two U.S. destroyers.422 Soon after the reports of the alleged attack by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin, President Johnson made a speech on the television referring to “the hostile actions against United States ships on the high seas in the Gulf of Tonkin.” Mere hours after the speech, the U.S. forces launched an air-strike against an oil storage facility located just inland of where the alleged Gulf of Tonkin incident had occurred, marking the nation's first overt military action against the North Vietnamese. Two days later, on August 7, 1964, U.S. Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the president authority to increase U.S. involvement in the war between North and South Vietnam. President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law three days later, privately remarking that the resolution “was like Grandma’s nightshirt. It covers everything.”423 In this manner, the U.S. officials dragged the United States into one of the bloodiest conflicts in the U.S. history – the VIETNAM WAR.

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416 Andrew & Mitrokhin, Mitrokhin's Archive, p. 194 »

417 Randy Pruitt, "Camp King: A casern with a past" Stars and Stripes Newspaper, European Edition January 18, 1993 »

418 Arnold M Silver, "Memories of Oberursel; Questions, Questions, Questions", Intelligence and National Security, Vol 8, No 2 published by Frank Cass, London »

419 Grandin, Kissinger's Shadow, p. 17 »

420 Jim and Sybil Stockdale, In Love and War (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), p. 23. »

421 Scott Shane, “Vietnam War Intelligence 'Deliberately Skewed' Secret Study Says”, New York Times, 2 December 2005 »

422 Robert J. Hanyok, "Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds and the Flying Fish”, The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery, 2-4 August 1964, Naval History and Heritage Command »

423 James S. Olson and Randy Roberts, Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam 1945 to 1990 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991), p. 120 »