Although the topic dates back to the 1950’s there still remains some discussion and speculation around the validity of the domino theory. Originally, this idea centred on the atomic bomb and domino theory and has shifted slightly today, but the same ideas and principles still exist.
The history of the atomic bomb and domino theory, as mentioned above, dates back to the 1950’s when the idea was prevalent that if one state or country within certain regions fell under communist rule, the states and countries surrounding that area in the region would fall prey to communism as part of a domino effect. This theory was a springboard for several consecutive US administrations during the Cold War era that were used to justify the presence and often intervention of the US into foreign affairs.
The fear of the atomic bomb and domino theory was put into words by then US President Dwight D Eisenhower in a 1954 news conference where in justifying US involvement in Indochina, he states that action must be taken because of the broad reaching consequences, specifically referring to the “falling domino” principle.
The primary evidence that supports the domino theory isn’t seen until years later in 1975 after the Communist takeover of Vietnam. This particular domino effect was shown successively in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Scholars often argue that during the 1950”s when the Communist regimes didn’t succeed in Southeast Asia, these countries did not fall victim to the domino theory and it was only after that occurred did these three countries follow.
Yet many other scholars argue that the domino theory is just a theory (and a bad one at that) because Communism didn’t take hold in Indonesia, Thailand and several other large countries in Southeast Asia immediately following the Vietnam War. Eisenhower warned the world that this could happen and to many, failure for that to occur really negated the validity of the domino theory.
How this relates to the atomic bomb and domino theory is simple to see. The US justified it’s use of the atomic bomb based on the theory that if one country was permitted to fall under the control of Communism, others would undoubtedly soon follow. Rather than be intimidated by the prospect and destruction of the bomb, Stalin instead made it an urgent priority to develop a Russian bomb, which then started the Cold War.
Many say that the domino theory is alive and well in modern politics and society. Some feel quite strongly that President Reagan used the domino theory in the 1980’s in order to justify the intervention in the Caribbean and Central American regions.
Others state that President Bush quite artfully used the domino theory to pump billions upon billions of tax revenue into a large scale invasion into Iraq based on the thought that weapons of mass destruction were located in that region. After none were found, Bush then went on to say that Iraq was the front line for the war on terror.
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