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President Kennedy Subscribes to “Domino Theory”

Sept. 9, 1963 - A reduction of U.S. financial aid to South Vietnam might bring about collapse of that nation and open the gates to a Communist takeover in Southeast Asia, President Kennedy said today. The President in an NBC-TV interview that he subscribes to the so-called “domino theory” concerning Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The “domino theory” gets its name from the effect caused when one of a line of standing dominoes is pushed, falls, and in turn pushes over the rest of them. “China is so large, looms so high beyond the frontiers, that if South Vietnam went, it would not only give them an improved geographic position for a guerrilla assault on Malaya, but would also give the impression that the wave of the future in Southeast Asia was China and the Communists,” Mr. Kennedy said. The President’s views came as an indirect answer to mounting congressional sentiment for a sharp cutback in aid to the Government of President Ngo Dinh Diem. Regarding the Buddhist crisis in South Vietnam, the President said: “We are using our influence to persuade the Government there to take those steps which will win back support.” He declined to say what role the CIA is playing in Vietnam. But, he said, “we have had a number of meetings in the past few days about events in Vietnam. [CIA Director] John McCone participated in every one, and the CIA coordinates its efforts with the State Department and Defense.” The interview was by NBC newscasters Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.


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