April 07, 2017

The origins of the “The Domino Effect”…


Contrary to what many sites on the Internet say, President Dwight D. Eisenhower did not coin the famous Cold War term “the Domino Effect.” 

He did use the phrase “falling domino principle” in a famous press conference on April 7, 1954.

Journalists at the time dubbed this “The Domino Theory,” which later came to be referred to as “the Domino Effect.”

The political concept encapsulated by those terms — the idea that if one country fell to the control of Communists, then nearby countries could follow — was a major foundation of America’s foreign policy during the Cold War years, which lasted from 1947 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

This concern was initially raised by President Truman’s Undersecretary of State, Dean Acheson.

In 1947, the government of Greece faced threats from Communist insurgents and Turkey seemed to be falling under the sway of the Soviet Union. Acheson warned in various public statements that, if the “Reds” took over in Greece and Turkey, Communism would likely spread south to Iran and as far east as India.

To counter this threat, President Truman asked Congress to approve $400 million in military and economic assistance for Greece and Turkey and proposed an anti-Communist policy eventually referred to as “The Truman Doctrine.” 

“It must be the policy of the United States,” Truman explained in a high-profile speech to Congress, “to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”

President Eisenhower, Truman’s successor, agreed with the Truman Doctrine’s goal of containing the spread of Communism. And, early  in his first term in office, he was forced to consider the need to apply that doctrine to Southeast Asia.

By 1954, France was on the verge of losing control of its colony Indochina (later called Vietnam) to Communist insurgents led by Ho Chi Minh. Eisenhower and his administration worried that if Indochina fell to Communist control, other Southeast Asian countries would follow.

During a White House press conference on April 7, 1954, reporter Robert Richards of the Copley Press asked Eisenhower: “Mr. President, would you mind commenting on the strategic importance of Indochina for the free world? I think there has been, across the country, some lack of understanding on just what it means to us.”

Eisenhower famously responded:

“You have, of course, both the specific and the general when you talk about such things. 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.”

Eisenhower said this disintegration would lead to the “loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following.”

In many news stories, reporters referred to Eisenhower’s falling domino principle as “the Domino Theory” or as “the Domino Effect.” The latter was a term that journalists Joseph and Stewart Alsop used in their popular syndicated newspaper column and claimed to have coined.

A month after Eisenhower made his famous remarks in 1954, Vietminh forces under General Vo Nguyen Giap defeated French troops at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.

France soon ceded control of its former colony. And, under an agreement hammered out in Geneva, Indochina was partitioned into Communist-controlled North Vietnam and non-Communist South Vietnam.

In the following years, Eisenhower provided economic assistance and weapons to the fledgling South Vietnamese government and sent in a small number of American military advisors.

During the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy significantly expanded U.S. economic and military assistance to South Vietnam and increased the number of military advisors there to more than 16,000.

These decisions by Eisenhower and Kennedy set in motion a political and military domino effect that ultimately led to the Vietnam War.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading…

April 02, 2017

“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

Open the pod bay doors Hal
On April 6, 1968, director Stanley Kubrick’s visionary science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey was released to movie theaters nationwide in the United States.

The film, developed from the short story “Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke, had its initial premiere in Washington, D.C. on April 2nd, followed by local premieres in New York City and Los Angeles.

On April 6th, with the film’s general release, movie audiences throughout the country first heard several memorable lines that are cited by many books and websites as being among the most famous movie quotes of all time.

The most widely-known (and spoofed) line from 2001 is spoken by astronaut David Bowman (actor Kier Dullea).

He says it to HAL, the sentient HAL 9000 computer on the US space craft Discovery One, which is on a mysterious mission to Jupiter. (The name HAL is short for “the H-euristically programmed AL-gorithmic computer.”)

It comes near the end of the movie, after HAL begins killing off the ship’s crew.

Bowman takes a small space pod outside to retrieve the body of fellow astronaut Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood).

As Bowman returns to the ship, he asks HAL to let him back inside with the famous line: “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

This leads to one of most chilling exchanges in movie history:

2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) poster by Robert McCallDAVE:  Open the pod bay doors, Hal.
HAL:  I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
DAVE:  What’s the problem?
HAL:  l think you know what the problem is just as well as l do.
DAVE:  What are you talking about, Hal?
HAL:  This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
DAVE:  I don’t know what you're talking about, Hal.
HAL:  l know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that's something I can’t allow to happen.
DAVE:  Where the hell’d you get that idea, Hal?
HAL:  Although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
DAVE:  All right, Hal. I’ll go in through the emergency air lock.
HAL:  Without your space helmet, Dave, you’re going to find that rather difficult.
DAVE:  Hal, I won’t argue with you anymore. Open the doors!
HAL:  Dave...This conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

Dave uses a desperate maneuver to get back into the spaceship, without the helmet he’d left behind. He then heads determinedly to the room that houses HAL’s “brain,” and begins to shut down the rogue AI computer.

During the shutdown process, HAL senses what’s happening and utters one of the other famous lines from the film:

       “Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it.”

As HAL’s mind goes, he begins singing the old song “Daisy Bell,” which he was taught by his programmers:

       “Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer do.
        I’m half crazy, all for the love of you.”

After HAL’s mind is fully gone, the minds of the movies’ viewers are blown away by the final scenes.

First comes the psychedelic “star gate” sequence, then a series of scenes showing Dave Bowman aging, dying, and finally being reborn as a shining “space baby.”

Would you like me to tell you what it all means?

I’m sorry, folks, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Further reading and viewing:

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy


Copyright © Subtropic Productions LLC

All original text written for the This Day in Quotes quotations blog is copyrighted by the Subtropic Productions LLC and may not be used without permission, except for short "fair use" excerpts or quotes which, if used, must be attributed to ThisDayinQuotes.com and, if online, must include a link to http://www.ThisDayinQuotes.com/.

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something posted here and believe we may have violated fair use standards, please let us know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and ThisDayinQuotes.com is committed to protecting your privacy. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.