Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Domino Theory in Southeast Asia

From the Air Force and the Cold War 2005

National Security Action Memorandum 288 in March 1964 repeated and built on the Domino Theory as a basis for US involvement in Southeast Asia.
“We seek an independent non-Communist South Vietnam,” it said. “Unless we can achieve this objective in South Vietnam, almost all of Southeast Asia will probably fall under Communist dominance (all of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia), accommodate to Communism so as to remove effective US and anti-Communist influence (Burma), or fall under the domination of forces not now explicitly Communist but likely then to become so (Indonesia taking over Malaysia). Thailand might hold for a period with our help, but would be under grave pressure. Even the Philippines would become shaky, and the threat to India to the west, Australia and New Zealand to the south, and Taiwan, Korea, and Japan to the north and east would be
greatly increased.”52
However, Vietnam and other wars of national liberation were regarded as secondary in importance to the Cold War and took place in its shadow. In 1964, Air Force Chief of Staff LeMay said, “I point out that you cannot fight a limited war except under the umbrella of strategic superiority. For example, we would not have dared go into Lebanon ... without strategic superiority which kept the enemy air force off.”53
Also To keep the dominoes from falling in Southeast Asia, US forces went to war in Vietnam.
There were numerous similarities to the Korean War. Like Korea, Vietnam was a side issue to the Cold War. As in Korea, the Russians supplied and equipped the Communist in Korea, Soviet troops took part in the combat. The first SA-2 surface-to-air missile battery to shoot down a US aircraft in Vietnam was manned by a Soviet crew.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Vice Chairman
American Cold War Veterans, Inc
"We Remember"