The Vietnam War, Tonkin, and the alleged Stoicism of James Stockdale

[image: Stockdale exiting his A-4 fighter-bomber weeks before becoming a POW (Wikipedia); this is essay #302 in the “Philosophy as a Way of Life” series]

The day is August 2nd, 1964. The destroyer USS Maddox has been sent on a mission near the coast of North Vietnam, in the Gulf of Tonkin, with the express purpose of provoking an armed response. Which it did. The outcome of the brief encounter was four dead and six wounded North Vietnamese sailors. No American casualties. The Johnson administration will later falsely claim…