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domino theory

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


An idea first put forward by President truman in 1946, who said that action must be taken (hence the truman doctrine ) to prevent communist subversion in Greece and Turkey, otherwise neighbouring states would fall like a line of dominoes. He also applied the theory to Southeast Asia when the korean war began. ‘If we let Korea down’, he said, ‘the Soviets will keep right on going and swallow up one piece of Asia after another… If we were to let Asia go, the Near East would collapse and no telling what would happen in Europe’. President eisenhower took up the theme in 1954, when he also applied the doctrine to Southeast Asia and talked of ‘a row of dominoes set; you knock over the first one and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly … the loss of Indo-China, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula [Malaysia] and Indonesia following’. The commitment of all Presidents from Eisenhower to ford to US participation in the vietnam war was based on this theory. It was applied too to Central America in the 1980s, when President reagan maintained that if the sandinistas were in control of Nicaragua all other states in the region would become communist and the US, ‘the last domino’, would be threatened by Soviet and Cuban bases. The theory was falsified in practice. As the Vietnamese communists took control of the whole of Vietnam in ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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