The Domino Theory

In the wake of the temporary partitioning of Vietnam at the Geneva Conference of 1954, the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration was determined to do what it could to ensure that South Vietnam remained out of the hands of Communists. Eisenhower suggested in a 1954 speech that if the Communists were victorious in Vietnam, the rest of Southeast Asia would “topple like a row of dominoes” to Communist ideology. The Eisenhower administration believed that if Southeast Asia turned Communist it would effect the United States in a great number of ways, including economically and politically. Representative John F. Kennedy, in 1952, said that Asia is an area “where Communists are attempting to seize controlwhere the tide of events has been moving against us. The Communists have a chance of seizing all of Asia in the next five or six years.” The assumption of Eisenhower and his administration that Communism would spread like a bad virus was a false one. Not only was their ample evidence during the actual fighting of the Vietnam War that this was not the case, but from declassified papers and notes it can be shown that the domino theory was notably inaccurate. Some even thought the domino theory might adverse effects on the United States. Senator Frank Church said, “I think too much intervention on our part may well spread Communism through the ex-colonial world rather than thwart it.” The two major Communist powers, China and the Soviet Union, were too busy with internal affairs to worry about external adventures, such as Vietnam. Also, who was to say that the type of guerrilla warfare and other tactics utilized by the Viet Cong would work in other parts of the world? Vietnam was a case unlike many others and the idea that other acts of nationalism could be as effective as the Vietnamese was a far-stretched idea. All in all, it can be proven that the United States’ assumption of a domino effect was a poor one in predicting the w…

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