Republican Congressman and 2008 Presidential candidate Ron Paul fears a staged Gulf of Tonkin style incident may be used to provoke air strikes on Iran as numerous factors collide to heighten expectations that America may soon be embroiled in its third war in six years.
Writing in his syndicated weekly column, the representative of Texas' 14th district warns of "a contrived Gulf of Tonkin-type incident (that) may occur to gain popular support for an attack on Iran."
The August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, where US warships were apparently attacked by North Vietnamese PT Boats, was cited by President Johnson as a legitimate provocation mandating U.S. escalation in Vietnam, yet Tonkin was a staged charade that never took place. Declassified LBJ presidential tapes discuss how to spin the non-event to escalate it as justification for air strikes and the NSA faked intelligence data to make it appear as if two US ships had been lost.
Should a staged provocation take place in an attempt to justify striking Iran it would not be the first time the current administration has considered such a ploy.