home > archive > 2002 > this article
America's domino theory
By Bruce Walker
During the middle of the Cold War, those of us who understood that the Soviet Union and Communism were evil advanced the "Domino Theory" for defending Vietnam. This theory warned that if South Vietnam became Communist, then Laos and Cambodia would also become Communist, and then Thailand, Malaysia and Burma, and Southeast Asia.
The fear of Communism spreading throughout Southeast Asia was based upon good history. The British defeated Communist guerillas on the Malay peninsula, but it was a hard fight. President Sukarno in Indonesia flirted with Chinese Communism during the 1960s. India had fought a high altitude war with China over lands near Tibet and Nepal, and India was - and is - a vast land of many languages, religions and races.
When Saigon fell in 1975, Laos and Cambodia, which had been integral parts of the Vietnam War for many years, did fall to Khmer Rogue and Pathet Lao forces, but the other dominos in Southeast Asia proved more resilient. Thailand, Malaya and Singapore are not Communist today. Was the Domino Theory unsound?
No, but the dominos that fell after Saigon fell, lay outside of Southeast Asia. Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Angola and Grenada during the years of American timidity and doubt fell to Marxist groups supported, directly or indirectly, with money, arms, training, and political support from Moscow. By 1981, when President Reagan took office, America looked to the world much like Britain did before the invasion of Poland in 1939.
Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese Imperialists had been pushing dominos for several years - Ethiopia, Sudentenland, Manchukuo, Memelland, Albania, China proper, Bohemia and Moravia - without any victories for the democracies. The Soviet Union was correctly perceived a balance but also a serious threat itself.
Nations and movements in Hungary, Romania, Spain, Argentina, Iran, Egypt and India were watching the will and the power of Britain or France to stop more dominos from falling, and these observers concluded that the Swastika, the Red Star, and the Rising Sun would soon become ubiquitous in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Winston Churchill was sixty-five years old when he first became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Ronald Reagan was sixty-nine years old when he took office in 1981. Both men had been important political figures who were mocked by the cognoscenti of their age. Both men faced not only enemies of freedom all over the world, but countrymen who pined for an armistice with evil. And both men understood what "dominos" meant in modern geopolitics.
Churchill in 1940 and Reagan in 1981 began to act decisively to topple those dominos which lie within their power to topple, and neither man cared one whit for what the public opinion thought nor policy advisers cautioned. It is so very easy today to forget that much of Churchill's own cabinet wanted peace with Germany and that leaders of the Dominion democracies, so vital to British survival, were wavering terribly as well. Could any man have been as alone as Churchill in 1940? Perhaps Reagan in 1981 was just as alone when he proposed the shocking notion of victory over a Soviet Empire. Both men began winning the war against evil almost at once.
Churchill occupied Iceland the day he became Prime Minister. This neutral self-governing Danish possession was not filled with Nazi sympathizers, but it held a crucial position in the North Atlantic, and without it the Battle of the Atlantic would be lost. The British bulldog also sank much of the French Fleet at Oran, when the French commanders did not agree to demobilize or surrender their big, modern warships. Almost as soon as the Battle of Britain was won, a handful of Fairey Swordfish biplanes gutted the large Italian Fleet at Taranto, and the British Imperial Army beat an Italian Army many times its own size at the end of 1940.
Reagan acted with the same quiet determination. In 1981, he sent an American carrier task force deliberately across Ghadifi's "Line of Death" in the Gulf of Sidra, and when the loudmouthed dictator sent his MIGs to threaten our carriers, American Tomcats blew them out of the sky. The President began to supply weapons to anti-Communists in Angola, Nicaragua and Afghanistan. In 1983, Reagan exposed the hollowness of the "Brezhnev Doctrine" when American forces liberated Grenada from Marxist goons in a single day.
President Bush should begin toppling dominos, and there are several criteria for selecting the right dominos. First, victory should be as certain as any event in a war can be. Second, victory should be swift. Third, the victory should permanently change the balance of power, even if the change is not vast. Fourth, the victory should be perceived by friend and foe alike as a victory for America and as a defeat for its enemies.
Using these criteria, there are several dominos that President Bush might tip now. Libya, sparsely populated, linked with that perverse brand of Islamic Marxism, rich in oil, and right next to Egypt would be a perfect move. Before Ghadifi, this nation was ruled by a pro-American monarch and the United States held Wheeler Air Force Base (whose possession today would be very useful). Send in the Marines, kick Ghadifi out, create a pro-American regime, establish a permanent military base in Libya, and start pumping oil.
Sudan is a nation whose genocidal campaign against black Christians is an abomination and whose military power is tiny, in spite of its vast size. Conquer Sudan and impose a government upon Khartoum pleasing to us and to our interests. Hold war crimes' trials in Khartoum against those Islamic Sudanese who have murdered, tortured, mutilated and enslaved millions. Let the world hear the testimony of their victims. Let our enemies defend their actions. Give these monsters a fair trial, and then hang them. Permanent military bases in Sudan could enable American land and air forces to move quickly into the Arabian peninsula.
Another domino lies ninety miles from the shores of Florida. Cuba may be on the verge of popular revolution, and Castro is not even dead yet. Why not push that, and offer real assistance to those who would overthrow this old, awful tyrant?
The quick defeat of Communism in Cuba offers a special political advantage to President Bush: Democrat politicians on the extreme Left had been engaged in acts bordering on treason for decades with Castro. The archives of the Cuban intelligence services could be political dynamite, and it could shut up our domestic America-haters for a long time.
Iran may be an easier domino to knock over than Iraq. The oppressed people of Iran are on the verge of popular revolution after more than two decades of Taliban-like rule. We should help. A new government in Teheran would be decidedly pro-American, and the non-Arabic Shiite Moslems of Iran offer an important counterweight to the radical Moslem Arabists who have championed the war of al-Qaida.
Recall how unsympathetic the average Afghan was to the Taliban? These diverse nationalities of Afghans have much more in common with the non-Arab Iranians, and much less in common with Saudi, Iraqi or Egyptians. Let this voice of Islam speak out, and let Arabs like bin Ladin stop pretending that they speak for all Islam.
We should oust Saddam Hussein, of course, but let us take the President at his word when he says that focusing on Iraq is a mistake. We should win everywhere we can, and we should begin to win this war in visible ways that will show the world that we are the good guys and that we are determined to win.
A string of such victories will influence the thinking in Berlin, Cairo, New Delhi, Paris and Jakarta. Each victory will make nations less willing to be our enemies and more interested in being our friends. If the dominos begin to fall around the world, the certain end is the liberation of the world and the beginning of genuine peace.
Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a contributor
to Citizens View, The Common Conservative, Conservative Truth and Port
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
© 1996-2018, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.