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Once Bernard Baruch had identified and named the situation called the "Cold War" in his...

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joanne79 | Student, College Senior | (Level 2) Honors

Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:33 PM via web

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Once Bernard Baruch had identified and named the situation called the "Cold War" in his 1947 speech, it became the ideological underpinning of national foreign strategy of the United States and its allied nations. This strategy came to be called "containment." 

What was President Eisenhower's metaphor for the threat of global communism? Explain the metaphor's impact in developing and sustaining the Cold War foreign policy of the United States.


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kipling2448 | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 26, 2013 at 4:02 PM (Answer #1)

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President Dwight Eisenhower's metaphor for the Cold War was best described by him during a news conference on April 7, 1954:

"Finally, you have broader considerations tht might follow what you would call the 'falling domino' priniciple.  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."

What became known as "the domino theory" played a major role in the U.S. approach to foreign policy in Southeast Asia, leading to the development of the Vietnam War, and to the U.S. approach to the status of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu lying between Taiwan (Formosa) and mainland China.  

France, emerging from its occupation by the German Army and anxious to resume what it saw as its proper place on the world stage, set about to attempt to reconstitute its imperial holdings in what was known as French Indochina, a vast region in Southeast Asia encompassing Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  The Vietnamese independence leader and communist Ho Chi Minh led a guerrilla insurgency that eventually drove the French out of the northern half of the country, an effort climaxed with the humiliating French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. 

The United States had supported French efforts in Indochina in exchange for French cooperation in estabishing the North Atlantic Alliance.  With the French defeat in northern Vietnam, U.S. political leaders in Congress and in the White House worried increasingly about the spread of Ho Chi Minh's influence and, by extension, that of the Soviet Union and Communist China, throughout Southeast Asia.  What became known formally as "the domino theory" grew out of these concerns about a sweeping communist takeover of Southeast Asia.  It was postulated, including quite vocally by a young U.S. senator named John Kennedy, that a communist victory in Vietnam would lead to the collapse of governments in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, and the rest of the region to communism.  Once the Vietnamese domino was knocked over, the other dominoes would fall.

This, then, was the metaphor for which Eisenhower became known.  The growing U.S. commitment to the defense of South Vietnam grew out of that, and the rest is history.


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