domino theory

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Analogy, first propounded by US President Eisenhower in 1954, which suggests that events in one country could trigger similar events in neighbouring countries: ‘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.’ The theory was used to justify military intervention in Vietnam; with the claim that if it were allowed to become a communist government many others might follow. A bombastic doctrine of communist contagion, the domino theory ignored country‐specific factors and was used to undermine the development of democratic socialist governments. Despite the disaster of the Vietnam War, the domino theory was resurrected by Ronald Reagan, who used it to justify military intervention in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Politics.

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