How valid is the domino theory in the mid or early 60s?

Nov 2014
416
ph
Say if Saigon fell in 1965 to the North, is Thailand next? What about Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines?
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,773
Cornwall
Well it was a valid theory obviously. You mean was it correct? Possibly in the early 60s but it turned out that, in time, all the dominos fell backwards!
 
Nov 2014
416
ph
Well it was a valid theory obviously. You mean was it correct? Possibly in the early 60s but it turned out that, in time, all the dominos fell backwards!
I mean if Saigon fell to the Commies in 1965 would the rest of SEA have fallen as well? I mean the Arab Spring seemed to be some sort of domino theory.
 

Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
It was more valid around 1989-1990. For the Soviet "Bloc".
 

pikeshot1600

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,966
The 'domino theory' was a justification for the broader grand strategy of the United States to contain the Soviet Union, and what was seen until the 1960s, its Chinese client.

It is possible, or probable, that the post war states of eastern Europe were seen as an aggressive template for future Soviet expansion. As these states became simulacra of Soviet Russia, and under Soviet domination, forward deployments of its strategic intent. That is debatable, but it is the way it looked in the years after WW II. Then China became something of a dependency of the USSR in 1949/50.

Containment always had an element of economic strategy about it. Western Europe was a major market for US products; southeast Asia had important maritime trade routes that had to be secure, and the Persian Gulf was the primary western (not US) source of petroleum. Keeping Soviet influence to a minimum in these geographies required 'friendly' governments that were susceptible to US interests.

There needed to be an articulated policy that combined strategic necessity with as much popular support as possible. So a 'domino theory' was support for a strategy of containing Communist influence. In retrospect, it appears less convincing, but the strategy itself was a successful one for almost half a century.
 

Edgewaters

Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
It's hard to say if communism would have expanded indefinitely without containment. It's a good thing we didn't care to find out.

But I think in some cases, it was a mistake to apply the theory. Vietnam and several other examples were actually self-determination movements, often legacies of the colonial era, dressed up as communism in order to gain arms and support. It was a mistake to view them simply as Bolshevik uprisings - these cases were far more motivated and determined than a simple case of left populism, and generally the West came off badly in these matches. Diplomatic solutions might have been more appropriate.
 

Mike McClure

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
6,229
Indiana
A good book in understanding the domino theory is The Violent Peace by Carl Mydans and Shelley Smith Mydans.