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The Domino Theory

The Domino Theory

When one domino falls, it knocks over the next, and the next, causing a chain reaction of collapse. President Eisnehower of the USA appropriately named his fear of the spread of Communism the Domino Theory, concerned that once one nation fell to Communism, many more would follow. First let me set some context in order to make this more understandable. After the Second World War ended the Western forces (USA, France and the UK) took control of Western Germany and the USSR (United Soviet States of Russia) took the East which includes Berlin, the capital (although Berlin was then split into West and East by the Berlin Wall). The fighting had ended and for many there were celebrations but new rivals emerged from the fog of war, the once wartime allies against the Nazis turned on one another in their opposing ideologies of how to govern the world, igniting the Cold War, a great time of fear through espionage, deceibt and paranoia more than any physical trauma. The old saying 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' had been very true of the Second World War and the West and East's alliance was largely out of necessity to combat the greater evil of Nazi Germany. Now that there was peace, the East and West began to build their spheres of influence in Europe with Germany at the heart of these power blocs (this is the correct spelling of block in this instance). Europe was at a standstill and so the USSR turned to Indo China, first Korea and then Vietnam, and President Eishenhower feared that if one nation was to fall to the USSR then all the others would follow in the same ideological pattern. So with that added background, let's return to the dominoes.


It's important to understand that although the USA and USSR were not colonial Empires and did not physically march across Europe and delcare their ownership over it, they had such strong influence that their rule was simply accepted on the majority. They were two superpowers emerging in a world damaged by years of war so many countries naturally looked to them for leadership and governing. In instances such as the Hungary Revolution in 1956 Russia actually sent in armed troops to quell the riots forcing the country under their control. Whilst the US tried their best to appear democratic and 'the good guys' in the media they too supported some corrupt governments and schemes as long as they were anti-communist and therefore anti the USSR. With two great blocs of Capitalism (west) versus Communism (East) something had to give; the USSR encouraged and supplied communist North Korea (which remains a censored ad brainwashed dictatorship to this day) and so the US were forced to support a government in South Korea to prevent the entire country falling to Communism. After three years an armistice was signed and the North and South remained divided but then in Vietnam the USA again committed troops to combat the spread of Communism. It was especially prevalent here because Vietnam is situated in a cluster of many countries close together such as Cambodia and Malaysia so Eisenhower's fear of a domino effect was heightened. After a long struggle of attrition and guerilla war there was eventually so much pressure on them to withdraw that the US left Vietnam and sure enough the country fell entirely to Communism within a year of them leaving. However it did not spread and the rest of Indo China remained largely neutral, nonetheless China had much influence in Vietnam and Chairman Mao of the Chinese Communist Party had poor relations with Russia so it is possible, some historians theorise, that China prevented the spread of the USSR's communism somewhat.


Eisenhower's domino theory is reasonable as the USSR were quite expansive in the early Cold War years (though they claimed they were securing a defensive border having been invaded in both world wars) but it never really came to be; do you think Eisenhower's domino theory was Western paranoia of Communism or was it justified? Decide for yourself and leave a comment below! History, politics, international relations, a lot of what you study will be based as much on interpretation as facts when you study at a higher level so why not get some practise in discussion now?


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