The Domino Theory

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Temps are down to the freezing mark now that the rain has moved out and the cold front has moved in behind. You can almost tell the temperature by looking outside and counting the number of folks that you see milling about the park. Less than ten people means under forty. My unofficial Bud thermometer works at the other end of the spectrum too, where less than ten bodies means over ninety. Better than the Whizz O Meter, I tell you.

Temperature extremes mean more folks using the Rec room, so I have to be attentive to what’s going on over there. I mean, I can’t let a game of Boggle get out of hand and turn into an afternoon of septuagenarian homicide. Most people are packing around here, and they take their Boggle serious. I have to stand by and make sure that no one leaves the game with hurt feelings. Particularly if they’re going to leave and come back with prejudice.

I had a game of dominoes get out of hand a few years ago, and the lunacy of the two old geezers whacking at each other with their canes sent me into one of my “Bud’s Lights Are Out” moments. It seems that I use to be prone to going into these trances where I was, on the one hand, transcendentally lucid, and on the other hand, not conscious at all. I guess I can liken it to speaking in “tongues”. The lights are on, but nobody is at home. From accounts of the incident, I took the absurdity of two old dudes fighting over a game of dominoes and applied it to the “Domino Theory” of the politicians. Survivors say that my rant was “epic”.

For those of you that didn’t have to live it, the Domino Theory was the guiding light of our foreign policy from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. Simply put, the Domino Theory speculated that if one country in an area became communist, then all of the country’s neighbors would follow suit. Even to write out the principle now seems stupid, but that’s how it was back then. People were scared of communism, religious people in particular. For sure you can’t have people running around being nice to each other and getting along with out having a God to thank for it, right? More importantly, if you disrupt God’s delivery system, the priests and preachers, where are all of those folks going to get jobs? I mean, communism guarantees jobs for all, just not jobs as cushy as Cardinal or Pope.

It sounds like I’m picking a little bit on the Catholics here, but not really. It was one of their idealogues that eventually led the United States into invading Viet Nam and killing hundreds of thousands of innocents. No, I’m not talking about John F. Kennedy, although he did play his part. I’m talking about one Thomas Anthony Dooley.

Thomas A. Dooley was a Catholic, Navy physician that worked in Laos providing aid to the refugees there. Dooley worked as a spy for the C.I.A. and was encouraged to write a book about his struggles. The book was well received and not a Catholic kid who grew up during the 50’s doesn’t know who Tom Dooley was. Every classroom in Catholic schools around America had collection boxes for Dooley’s work in fighting Communism/helping the refugees. When he died, Dooley was perceived by most Americans to be the third most esteemed man in the world, following only Eisenhower and the Pope in popularity.

Nicholas von Hoffman wrote in 1969 that Tom Dooley had created “the climate of public misunderstanding that made the war in Vietnam possible“. Dooley had reduced the extremely complex issues of Southeast Asia as a battle between good and evil. Eventually the evil of the war in Vietnam War caused the American public to view Dooley’s moralistic anti-communism as simplistic pablum.

Simplistic pablum like the Domino Theory. Eventually we left Viet Nam and it fell to some sort of Socialist, Capitalist, Communist, Dictatorship that functions as a good neighbor in the region. Viet Nam’s neighbors, Thailand and Cambodia, are still ruled by kings, kind of the antithesis of communism. Normal relations exist between the U.S. and Viet Nam and you can vacation there anytime you like. Just be careful where you walk.

Unexploded ordnance, left over from the U.S. bombings, are still blowing up and killing people today. Some 42,000 people have died due to the ordnance left behind since the war officially ended. Carpet bombing, the gift that keeps on giving.

That’s something to remember when we listen to the candidates present their new “Domino Theory” as it applies to the Middle East. As you listen to our potential presidential candidates, pay particular attention to the religious idealogues, they’re grinding more than one axe.

I leave you with the words of my old buddy, Edmund Burke, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”


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