The 21st Century Domino Theory

Leonard O Goenaga



Paper 3

The 21st Century Domino Theory

It is no doubt that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is simply one of the greatest foreign policy gurus in American History. Although there are many points in which to disagree with him, to deny this claim is foolhardy. Having played major roles in Détente and the opening of American policy with China, it is interesting to hear what Mr. Kissinger has to say regarding Iranian nuclear policy.

What exactly does the former Secretary of State have to say regarding the dilemma? Interesting enough, Mr. Kissinger uses a foreign policy term from the past: that of the domino affect. Recently Henry Kissinger stated that “if Iran gets the bomb the middle east will follow.” He previous Domino Effect Theory argued that if America allowed communist revolutions to spring forth and take control of governments in foreign countries, the result would be a ‘domino like’ effect, leading to further neighbors and nations succumbing to communist revolution. As a result of this theory, it was argued that the U.S. should prevent communist upheavals, as to prevent this domino effect. It is interesting that now, in the 21st century, the ideas of Domino Theory are taking the new form of nuclear armament. Is Henry Kissinger’s cry for a new Domino Theory accurate, let alone palpable?

To ponder this, it first must be stated that there are currently 40 developing countries asking the U.N. about Nuclear power. These countries include Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and even numerous South American countries.  Will Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons lead her neighbors to pursue the same, whether for defensive or political reasons? Given the fact that a Shiite Persian Iran, a historical enemy of the Sunni majority Middle East, develops such a nuclear weapon is concern enough to predict a nuclear arms race in the region and its historical Arab enemies (Egypt, etc.). To add into the mix a nuclear advanced and bitter enemy Israel, as well as numerous unstable Arab regimes, and a massive location of the worlds energy and we develop a recipe for foreign political disaster.

We have yet to see this issue take an appropriate stage in the current political campaign, and given the difficulty of devising a solution, it is no wonder little has been done to address it. It will be interesting to see, regardless of which candidate is elected, how this issue of a ‘Nuclear Domino Effect’ will be handled, or better yet prevented.


Hemmer, Bill. “Domino Effect?” America’s Newsroom.  May 2008. 16 Oct. 2008



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