Top aides to Kennedy, such as Dean Rusk and both Joint Chiefs of Staff, later said that they had hesitations about [the invasion of Cuba] but muted their thoughts. Some leaders blamed these problems on the determination of the Kennedy brothers to oust Castro and fulfill campaign promises.[86] Military advisers were skeptical of its potential for success as well.[73] Despite these hesitations, Kennedy still ordered the attack to take place.[73]

Kennedy [then] believed that the guerrilla tactics employed by special forces such as the Green Berets would be effective in a "brush fire" war in Vietnam.
On 2 August 1964, USS Maddox, on an intelligence mission along North Vietnam's coast, allegedly fired upon and damaged several torpedo boats that had been stalking it in the Gulf of Tonkin.[64]:124 A second attack was reported two days later on USS Turner Joy and Maddox in the same area. The second "attack" led to retaliatory air strikes, and prompted Congress to approve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on 7 August 1964.[120]:78 The resolution granted the president power "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression" and Johnson would rely on this as giving him authority to expand the war.[32]:221 An undated NSA publication declassified in 2005 revealed that there was no attack on 4 August.[119]

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With the fiscal strain of federal expenditures for the Vietnam War and persistent balance of payments deficits (the drain on US gold reserves culminated with the London Gold Pool collapse in March 1968.[2]), led U.S. President Richard Nixon to end international convertibility of the U.S. dollar to gold on August 15, 1971. This was meant to be a temporary measure. In December 1971, the "Smithsonian Agreement" was reached whereby the currencies of a number of industrialized nations were pegged to the US dollar. These currencies were allowed to fluctuate by 2.25% against the dollar."

In this agreement, the dollar was devalued from $35 per troy ounce of gold to $38. Other countries' currencies appreciated. However, gold convertibility did not resume. In October 1973, the price was raised to $42.22. Once again, the devaluation was insufficient. Within two weeks of the second devaluation the dollar was left to float. The $42.22 par value was made official in September 1973, long after it had been abandoned in practice. In October 1976, the government officially changed the definition of the dollar; references to gold were removed from statutes. From this point, the international monetary system was made of pure fiat money.