The domino theory was considered a cold War policy which recommended a communist government in a single nation would easily result in communist takeovers in neighboring states, each one dropping like a perfectly aimed row of dominoes. In Southeast Asia, the U.S. government used the now discredited domino concept to justify its involvement in the Vietnam War as well as its support for a non-communist dictator in South Vietnam. In reality, the American attempts to stop a communist victory in Vietnam had a lot less of an influence than had been assumed by proponents of the domino principle. With the exception of Cambodia and Laos, communism failed to spread throughout Southeast Asia.
By 1950, manufacturers of the U.S. foreign policy had firmly adopted the concept that the dramatic rise of communism in Indochina would direct quickly lead to the collapse of various other nations in Southeast Asia. The National Security Council provided the concept in a 1952 report on Indochina, as well as in April 1954, during the decisive fight between French forces and Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu, President Dwight D. Eisenhower articulated it as the falling domino process.
In Eisenhower’s view, the loss of Vietnam to communist rule will result in very similar communist victories in neighboring countries in Southeast Asia (including Laos, Thailand and Cambodia) and anywhere else (India, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and perhaps Australia along with New Zealand). The possible effects of the loss [of Indochina], Eisenhower said, are simply unaccaptable to the free world.
After Eisenhower’s speech, the phrase domino principle started to be utilized as a shorthand phrase of the strategic value of South Vietnam to the United States, and the urgency to stop the spread of communism all through the globe.
After the Geneva Conference finished the French Viet Minh war as well as split Vietnam along the latitude called the 17th parallel, the United States spearheaded the group of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), a loose alliance of nations dedicated to taking action against security threats in the region.
John F. Kennedy, the successor of Eisenhower in the White House, would improve the commitment of U.S. materials in support of the Ngo Dinh Diem regime in South Vietnam and of non-communist forces battling a civil war in Laos in 1961-62. In the autumn of 1963, after severe domestic opposition to Diem arose, Kennedy backed away from assistance of Diem himself but publicly reaffirmed trust in the domino theory as well as the benefits of containment of communism in Southeast Asia.
Three weeks after Diem was murdered in a military coup in earlier November 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. His successor Lyndon B. Johnson continue using the domino principle to justify the escalation of the U.S. military presence in Vietnam from only 1000 soldiers to much more than 500,000 over the following 5 years.
The domino theory is today mostly discredited, having failed to take into consideration the character of the North Vietnamese as well as Viet Cong wrestle in the Vietnam War.
By assuming Ho Chi Minh was a pawn of the communist giants China and Russia, American policymakers failed to find out that the aim of Ho as well as his supporters was Vietnamese independence, not the spread of communism.
In the long run, although the American attempt to block a communist takeover failed, and North Vietnamese forces marched into Saigon in 1975, communism didn’t spread throughout the majority of Southeast Asia. With the exception of Cambodia and Laos, the nations of the region remained out of the communist grip.