Dominoes, Bandwagons, and the Road to War

Gareth Porter

in Perils of Dominance

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780520239487
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940406 | DOI:
Dominoes, Bandwagons, and the Road to War

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This chapter summarizes the evolution of the “domino theory” and “bandwagon” thesis. It reports that presidential advisers during the John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson administrations did indeed attribute strategic importance to the outcome in South Vietnam, but that this was far less compelling than the arguments which have often been presumed to have driven the United States into war. The story of domino and bandwagon arguments in the politics of Vietnam is one of strategic behavior by policy makers. The CIA argued that the U.S. losses and Communist gains from the defeat of the Saigon government would necessarily be limited by the fundamental imbalance of power in East Asia. The larger U.S. Cold War strategy in East Asia might not survive if the United States left South Vietnam without succeeding or at least having put up a fight for it.

Keywords: domino theory; bandwagon; John Kennedy; Lyndon Johnson; presidential advisers; South Vietnam; United States; Cold War

Chapter.  13113 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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