Modern History Sourcebook:
The Tonkin Bay Resolution, 1964
Joint Resolution of U.S. Congress: Public Law 88-408, August 7, 1964, Approved on
August 10, 1964To promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia.Whereas naval units of the Communist regime in Vietnam, in violation of the principles
of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law, have deliberately and
repeatedly attacked United States naval vessels lawfully present in international waters,
and have thereby created a serious threat to international peace; andWhereas these attacks are part of a deliberate and systematic campaign of aggression
that the Communist regime in North Vietnam has been waging against its neighbors and the
nations joined with them in the collective defense of their freedom; andWhereas the United States is assisting the peoples of southeast Asia to protect their
freedom and has no territorial, military or political ambitions in that area, but desires
only that these peoples should be left in peace to work out their own destinies in their
own way: Now, therefore, be itResolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America
in Congress assembled, That the Congress approves and supports the determination of
the President, as Commander iii Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed
attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.Sec. 2. The United States regards as vital to its national interest and to world peace
the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia. Consonant with the
Constitution of the United States and the Charter of the United Nations and in accordance
with its obligations under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, the United States
is, therefore, prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps,
including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the South-east
Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.Sec. 3. This resolution shall expire when the President shall determine that the peace
and security of the area is reasonably assured by international conditions created by
action of the United Nations or otherwise, except that it may be terminated earlier by
concurrent resolution of the Congress.
Source:from The Department of State Bulletin (August 24, 1964), p. 268.
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© Paul Halsall, July 1998