News this week, that China 'seizes US vessel' in South China sea.
That article reminded me of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which led directly to the US escalation of military engagement in Vietnam.
In reading through that Wikipedia entry I was struck by the tensions and similarities in the intelligence that was presented. And how specifically it was presented to the then US president, Lyndon Johnson.
The Hanyok article stated that intelligence information was presented to the Johnson administration "in such a manner as to preclude responsible decision makers in the Johnson administration from having the complete and objective narrative of events."
Instead, "only information that supported the claim that the communists had attacked the two destroyers was given to Johnson administration officials."
With regard to why this happened, Hanyok wrote:
As much as anything else, it was an awareness that President Johnson would brook no uncertainty that could undermine his position. Faced with this attitude, Ray Cline was quoted as saying:
"... we knew it was bum dope that we were getting from Seventh Fleet, but we were told only to give facts with no elaboration on the nature of the evidence. Everyone knew how volatile LBJ was. He did not like to deal with uncertainties."
It's been a year of upheaval, for many, and in many ways. I read the other day that 2017 will be a year of uncertainty. It appears, based on his Twitter feed, that the incoming US President is not a man who "deals with uncertainty".
He also doesn't deal in security briefings, so there's that.
Seems odd to consider that into this uncertainty, it appears we're doing it all again. Same mistakes, same techniques, but potentially far more dangerous results.
History repeats indeed.
And at the end of a long weekend, this from Denzel Washington, speaks truth to power.
"Anything you practise you'll get good at.... including BS"
There is certainty.
We just need to hold to it.