Domino Theory

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DOMINO THEORY

In September 1945, the Vietnamese nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh proclaimed Vietnam's independence from France, beginning a war that pitted Ho's communist-led Viet Minh administration in Hanoi against a French-backed administration in Saigon. Under President Harry S. Truman, the U.S. government provided secret military and financial aid to the French; Truman would also give aid to Greece and Turkey during the late 1940s to help contain communism in Europe and the Middle East. By early 1950, makers of U.S. foreign policy had firmly embraced the idea that the fall of Indochina to communism would lead rapidly to the collapse of other nations in Southeast Asia. The National Security Council included the theory in a 1952 report on Indochina, and in April 1954, during the crucial battle between Viet Minh and French forces at Dien Bien Phu. President Dwight D. Eisenhower articulated it as the "Falling Domino" principle. In Eisenhower's view, the loss of Vietnam to communist control would lead to similar communist victories in neighboring countries in Southeast Asia (including Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, India, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and even Australia and New Zealand). "The possible consequences of the loss of Indochina are just countless to the free world", Eisenhower said. After Eisenhower's speech, the phrase "Domino Theory" began to be used as a shorthand expression of the strategic importance of South Vietnam to the United States, as well as the need to contain the spread of communism throughout the world. After the Geneva Conference ended the French-Viet Minh war and split Vietnam along the latitude known as the 17th parallel, the United States fronted the organization of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), a loose alliance of nations committed to taking action against "security threats" in the region. John F. Kennedy, Eisenhower's successor in the White House, would increase the commitment of U.S. resources in support...
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