The Domino Theory In Vietnam

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THE DOMINO THEORY: A NECESSITY OF CONTAINMENT,
OR A TOOL OF CONTROL?

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Abstract

1. Introduction

The domino theory originated from the idea of “containment” that dominated American foreign policy throughout the Cold War period. In essence, the domino theory postulated that if a nation came under the influence of communism, or even fell under communist control, then the neighbouring nations would soon follow suit. The domino theory was rapidly incorporated into the Truman Doctrine, a policy which pledged US support to free nations fighting communism. This simple notion that the fall of a single country
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The fall of North Vietnam to communist rule is yet another clear example of the domino theory. Communist rule had spread to three Southeast Asian nations by 1975 following the communist takeover of North Vietnam: Cambodia, Laos, as well as South Vietnam. This argument is further strengthened by the fact that there had been a number of failed communist attempts to gain control of Southeast Asian nations. It was not until the fall of North Vietnam to communist rule with the aid of foreign communist support that other Southeast Asian nations began to fall to communist rule in a domino effect.

However, it is here that the evidence of the domino theory in Southeast Asia stops- communism failed to take hold in nations (such as Indonesia and Thailand) bordering these new communist states. These “unfallen dominoes” are not the only counter arguments to the domino theory. One such argument is that the Indochina Wars were driven more by nationalism than by communist ideals. Another counterargument suggests that the Vietnam war itself aided the spread the of communism through the region due to wide spread bombing fostering anti-American sentiments in nations such as
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If the policy of containment was purely humanitarian, it would be expected that the actions of all US agencies would follow this ethos. However, this is not the case. Perhaps the best example of this would be the CIA’s assistance in a royalist coup in Iran resulting in the expulsion of its then Prime Minister. The coup was primarily organized in reaction to the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry as well as fear of Iran joining the Soviet Bloc. This is a clear example of the dubious nature of facets of the containment policy, after all, there is a strong argument that the coup was arranged in order to secure American access to resources as opposed to halt the advance of communist ideology.

This pattern repeats itself an alarming number of times, another prime example being CIA activities in Guatemala. The newly elected Guatemalan government was overthrown with the support of the CIA, an action that was entirely undemocratic and stood in harsh contrast to the ideals put forward by the West. Not only would these actions result in a myriad of human rights travesties, but the reason for overthrowing this government was hugely influenced by the desire to maintain the influence of US corporations such as United Fruit within the

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