Some claim the domino theory was the key reason for the US intervention in Asia as it halted communist progress, The Domino Theory was the belief that communism was spread from one nation to its neighbours and so on. It was based on an analogy with falling dominos, that was popularised by Eisenhower in the 1950s and became widely accepted this was partly supported by the Soviet-led Comintern, which promoted communism around the world. On March 8, 1965, 3,500 United States Marines came ashore at Da Nang as the first wave of U.S. combat troops into South Vietnam for the so called purpose of containment and defence against communism.
Others argue that it was a simplistic theory which failed to acknowledge that Asian communism was motivated by nationalism as much as by the push for ‘world revolution’. this theory is supported by Gabriel Kolko, he stated; “impossible, undesirable, and dangerous for…any state to seek to guide the development of another nation or region.” As America did in Vietnam with their intervention. The domino theory was supported by the belief that communism was an aggressive, expanding imperialism that would spread from one country to the next, until it dominated the world. The left wing writer Noam Chomsky refers to this as the “threat of a good example.” they feared a communist takeover of Vietnam would mean that communists would then take over other countries in Southeast Asia that might come to threaten US allies such as the Philippines or Japan. China had fallen to communism in 1949, and America had fought in Korea in 1950-53 to contain the spread of communism.
This idea shaped US and Western foreign policy during the Cold War and the Vietnam war, particularly with regard to Asia, President Eisenhower announced “You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is a certainty that it will go over very quickly.” Eisenhower’s announcement laid the foundation for U.S. involvement in Vietnam which was then later emphasised by the the then Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs” It is generally acknowledged that if Indochina were to fall. Burma and Thailand would follow suit almost immediately.” This suggests the domino theory played a significant role in the early involvement of the Vietnam conflict. Thus, the domino theory was an extremely significant reason for the US to get involved in Vietnam as without the ‘threat’ of communism through the domino theory the Vietnam war would not exist. However, the ideas of, America’s international presence, European pressure and war for profit were also important.
Andrew F. Krepinevich states Communism was a minor threat to American imperialism and Vietnam in the 1960s was from the forefront of the movement. The definite defeat of the French is a key point that led to increased US involvement in the problems in Vietnam. After the defeat of the French the country split in two, the North being communist, lead by Ho ChI Minh who wanted to take over the south. In September 1945, Ho ChI Minh proclaimed Vietnam’s independence from France. This was the beginning of a war that pitted Minh’s communist-led Vietminh regime in Hanoi against a French-backed regime in Saigon.
Under President Harry S. Truman, the U.S government provided covert military and financial aid to the French and the south Vietnamese; the rationale was that a communist victory in Indochina would spread communism throughout Southeast Asia. Using this same logic, Truman also gave aid to Greece and Turkey in an effort to conform to his idea of “containment” in the Truman Doctrine. The ultimate view of the US government was that communism must be contained. Communist ideology itself contained evidence to validate this argument. The writings of Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin called for ‘international revolution’ through communism. Populations that contained large numbers of peasants were particularly susceptible to communist propaganda and recruitment. Suggesting that the idea of the domino theory was not false concern held by the US.
Additionally, when china started to provide the Viet Minh with essential military supplies in the 50s. This made the Americans feel much more strongly about getting involved with the conflict in Vietnam especially as its governments and borders were weak, putting the idea of containment, through the Truman Doctrine into action. Containment was accepted as fact by all US presidents during the Cold War and became an underlying principle in American foreign policy and justification. However, the domino theory is now largely discredited, having failed to take into account the character of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong struggle in the Vietnam War. America assumed Ho Chi Minh was a pawn of the communist giants Russia and China, American policymakers failed to see that the goal of Minh and his supporters was Vietnamese independence, the American people saw communism as a direct threat to their security as The idea of the Domino theory was induced into the mindset of the American people through propaganda within the media.
In February 1965, a poll was conducted where an overwhelming majority of people (78 percent to 10 percent) said they believed that if the United States withdrew from South Vietnam, “the Communists would take over all of Southeast Asia.” the domino theory was used to intimidate the American people, scaring them into supporting American involvement “If you let a bully come into your garden, the next day he’ll be in your porch, and the day after that he’ll rape your wife”. This suggests that the significance of the domino theory could have been exaggerated to align with America’s national agenda.