Saturday, April 7, 2018

APRIL 7 Ike's "Domino Theory" Speech

On today's date, April 7 in 1954, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower (left) during a news conference said this:

"Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling domino" principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a  beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences."

This has since come to be known as his "Domino Theory" speech. It was a very important moment because Ike (the long used abbreviation of his name) was stating a policy that would become the basis of  U.S. policy for many years to come.  It would soon be used as the basis for U.S. intervention in South East Asia.

France's Impending Failure

By 1954 it became clear that he French government's attempt to re-establish control over it's colonial holdings in Indochina (another name for South East Asia) was failing.  Indeed, the last stand for the French control came at the Battle of  Dien Bien Phu in which the French military was decisively
beaten by the Viet Minh. These were the Vietnamese communist revolutionary forces under the command of Ho Chi Minh (right). But that debacle had not yet happened at the time of  Ike's speech.
His main goal in outlining this dark vision of  Viet Minh victory in this struggle was to drum-up U.S. congressional support behind increased aid to the French in their fight to hold onto Vietnam.

The Likely Repercussions of French Defeat in Vietnam

First Ike outlined what  he saw as being the likely repercussions of a French loss in Vietnam. It was an economically important important source of raw materials:  "Now, with respect to the first one, two of the items from this particular area that the world uses are tin and tungsten. They are very important. There are others, of course, the rubber plantations and so on." It would also mean giving over many more
people into Communist domination: "Then with respect to more people passing under this domination, Asia, after all, has already lost some 450 million of its peoples to the Communist dictatorship, and we simply can't afford greater losses." And the central theme of this theory: "But when we come to the possible sequence of events, the loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following, now you begin to talk about areas that not only multiply the disadvantages that you would suffer through loss of materials, sources of materials, but now you are talking really about millions and millions and millions of people."

The Results of the Speech

The speech had little impact towards Ike's central goal of lining up support for France in the area. As said the French were defeated a
month later. At the Geneva Conference of July, 1955, a settlement was arrived at leaving Ho Chi Minh's forces in control of the northern half of  Vietnam. The longer term effect was a policy that lead directly to  U.S. involvement in the Vietnam conflict with all of the ill-consequences which that brought under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as well as America's politics for the next two decades.

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