2014 was not just the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I — the war that was supposed to end all wars — it was also the 50th anniversary of the August 1964 Tonkin Gulf resolution that ushered in a war that has never ended.

The resolution claimed to be the response to an alleged attack against a U.S. destroyer by a North Vietnamese patrol boat. Today no one even pretends the attack took place. It was, to borrow the words of American reporter in Vietnam, Neil Sheehan, “a bright shining lie.” But some 2 million to 3 million people had to die as a result.

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