23. The Pentagon Papers list the chronology of the United States escalating the war
Beginning on November 26, 1963 – the day after the funeral of John F. Kennedy – and continuing through 1964, there were a series of steps completed by the United States with the expressed intention of luring the North Vietnamese into escalating the war, allowing an appropriate response by the United States military. The steps were taken with the upcoming 1964 presidential election in the United States under constant consideration. The insurgency by the Viet Cong was exaggerated, the weakness of the government of South Vietnam was exploited, and US advisors stepped up their activity in prodding the North Vietnamese.
There was also an expansion of air reconnaissance over Vietnam, as well as Laos and Cambodia, conducted by US airplanes, intended to provoke a response. The same applied to Naval patrols along Vietnam’s coastline, which eventually led to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The entire chronology, and the supporting Department of Defense analysis and summary, indicts the Johnson Administration for deliberate expansion of the war, timed to take place after the 1964 election, and rebuts President Kennedy’s autumn 1963 statement to Walter Cronkite, “…after all, it’s their war”.