Eisenhower Articulates the "Domino Theory"
During a News Conference
Robert Richards, Copley Press: Mr. President, would you mind commenting
on the strategic importance of Indochina to the free world? I think
there has been, across the country, some lack of understanding on just
what it means to us.
THE PRESIDENT. You
have, of course, both the specific and the general when you talk about
First of all, you
have the specific value of a locality in its production of materials
that the world needs. 
Then you have the
possibility that many human beings pass under a dictatorship that is
inimical to the free world.
Finally, you have
broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling
domino" principle. 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.
Now, with respect
to the first one, two of the items from this particular area that the
world uses are tin and tungsten. They are very important. There are
others, of course, the rubber plantations and so on.
Then with respect
to more people passing under this domination, Asia, after all, has already
lost some 450 million of its peoples to the Communist dictatorship,
and we simply can't afford greater losses.
But when we come
to the possible sequence of events, the loss of Indochina, of Burma,
of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following, now you begin
to talk about areas that not only multiply the disadvantages that you
would suffer through loss of materials, sources of materials, but now
you are talking really about millions and millions and millions of people.
Finally, the geographical
position achieved thereby does many things. It turns the so-called island
defensive chain of Japan, Formosa, of the Philippines and to the southward;
it moves in to threaten Australia and New Zealand.
It takes away, in
its economic aspects, that region that Japan must have as a trading
area or Japan, in turn, will have only one place in the world to go--that
is, toward the Communist areas in order to live.
So, the possible
consequences of the loss are just incalculable to the free world.
Source: "The President's
News Conference of April 7, 1954," Public Papers of the Presidents
of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954 (Washington, D.
C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1960), 382-83. Paragraph numbers
have been added, and the original pagination appears in brackets.