Law Dictionary

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Law 78 Stat. 384 (1964), terminated by 84 Stat. 2055 (1971)

legal Definition of Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

resolution put before the United States Congress by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Aug. 5, 1964, following allegedly unprovoked attacks by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin between August 2 and August 4. Its stated purpose was to approve and support the determination of the president, as commander in chief, in taking all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression, and it declared the maintenance of international peace and security in Southeast Asia to be vital to American interests and to world peace. Both houses of Congress passed the resolution on August 7. In later years, especially in view of subsequent revelations concerning U.S. policy and operations in Vietnam, many members of Congress came to see the resolution as giving the president a blanket power to wage war, and it was repealed in 1970.

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