The Domino theory is a significant motive in explaining US intervention in Vietnam, as not only the government accepted it, but the wider American Public did as well. However, there are other factors that influenced the US at the time, such as the Power vacuum in Vietnam after Dien Bien Phu, the Geneva accords and the loss of China to communism. The Domino theory is the theory that if one country ‘falls’ to communism then that communism would spread until all the countries have ‘fallen’ to it. The US intervened because of this as there was a great fear of communism around at the time.
McCarthyism had just become a major issue, with many government officials being accused of being communist and as Truman had lost China, Eisenhower knew that if he ‘lost’ Vietnam, then his popularity would suffer greatly as the US public would think he was soft on communism. As a result, he would not be re-elected. The domino theory was significant because if Indochina fell to communism then there was a risk of the US losing Japan, after the effort the US put into restoring Japan after WW2 and all the trade that came from Japan, the US couldn’t afford for Japan to be threatened. Another significant reason why the US intervened in South East Asia was the power vacuum after Dien Bien Phu.
The French were defeated and withdrew from Vietnam, and the US were worried that China, or even perhaps the Soviets would begin to take control. Then Ho Chi Minh emerged as a potential leader; Ho had spent time in Moscow and the US viewed him as a communist rather than a nationalist, which meant they feared him being in power and therefore, they had to get involved in South East Asia. Alternatively, the US may have intervened in South East Asia because of the lack of faith in the Geneva accords. The Geneva accords ended the war between France and the Viet Minh but partitioned Vietnam along the 17 parallel. Eisenhower was concerned that the power of North Vietnam might cause the accords to fail.
If free elections were held then Vietnam would become a united communist country. Thus, Eisenhower adopted a policy of supporting Diem economically and militarily, to help contain communism. In addition, Eisenhower felt Ho had triumphed at Geneva and felt he had to ‘restore’ US prestige, this led to SEATO being created and as a consequence, further involved the US in South East Asia.
In conclusion, the Domino theory was a very significant reason as to why the US intervened in South East Asia in the 1950s. although, other factors were of equal importance as everything just added together until the US had no choice to act or else they would have lost the ‘respect’ of the other countries. I think that the main factor was communism, around that time, everyone feared it and as a result, Eisenhower had to act.
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Topic: How far do you agree that the ‘Domino Theory’ explains US intervention in South East Asia in the 1950’s?
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