President Eisenhower – a two term Republican President from 1952-1960 – drew attention to the “Domino Theory” during a news conference on 7 April 1954, when referring to communism in Indochina he said:
“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.’
President Kennedy reaffirmed belief in the domino theory and the importance of containing communism in Southeast Asia. His successor, Lyndon B Johnson, would continue to use the Domino Theory to justify the escalation of the U.S. military presence in Vietnam from a few thousand soldiers to more than 500,000 over the next five years. But no dominos fell in Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, or S Korea.
The now discredited Domino Theory was used by Johnson/Nixon to justify military intervention in S-E Asia. So, too, were the Gulf of Tonkin Resolutions of 2 and 4 August 1964 which became the subject of great political controversy. By the late 1960s, the web of US government deceit and lies began to unravel as public confidence in both Johnson and the American military effort in Vietnam began to erode. By this time 58,000 US soldiers had died.
So why refer now in 2023 to events that occurred in 1964? It is this. The world is closer to War now than it has been at any time since the Vietnam War. Anyone who follows events in the Taiwan Straits will be concerned about the future of world peace. Look at recent events
“It is undeniable that a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the U.S. will be an unbearable disaster for the world.” said China’s Defence Minister, Li Shangfu on 5 June 2023 as differences magnify between China and US over Taiwan, territorial disputes in the South China Sea and President Biden’s restrictions on semiconductor chips exports.
The U.S. Navy said a Chinese destroyer made “unsafe” manoeuvres near a U.S. warship in the Taiwan Straits on Saturday on the same day that China’s military criticized the United States and Canada for “deliberately provoking risk” after their warships staged a rare joint sailing through the sensitive Strait.
In his speech, Defence Minister Li said China won’t allow such freedom-of-navigation patrols by the U.S. and its allies to be “a pretext to exercise hegemony of navigation.” A Cold War mentality is now resurgent, greatly increasing security risks,” Li said. “Mutual respect should prevail over bullying and hegemony.”
Major countries may be steaming towards military confrontation and, having regard to US deception re the Domino Theory and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolutions, the world needs to ensure that it is not misled by the US in 2023 as it was misled by the US in 1964. We have been there before.