On this day April 7, 1954

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gives his “domino theory” speech during a news conference, though he did not use the term “domino theory”.

If Communists succeeded in taking over the rest of Indochina, Eisenhower argued, local groups would then have the encouragement, material support and momentum to take over Burma, Thailand, Malaya and Indonesia; all of these countries had large popular Communist movements and insurgencies within their borders at the time.

In March 1954, the Viet Minh, a Communist and nationalist army, defeated French troops and took control of what became North Vietnam. This caused the French to fully withdraw from the region then known as French Indochina, a process it had begun earlier. The region now comprised four independent countries: North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

In February 1955, Eisenhower dispatched the first American soldiers to Vietnam as military advisors to Diem’s army. After Diem announced the formation of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, commonly known as South Vietnam) in October, Eisenhower immediately recognized the new state and offered military, economic, and technical assistance.

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