Clack-clack-clack, the dominoes fall, and not all of them are actually dominoes. Heath Robinson machines (Damn yanks, he predates your plagiarising Rube Goldberg) of this type can take any form and it’s always damn fun to trace the threads of seeming causality and see if you can spot an origin.
For example, look at Vietnam; the whole reason Kennedy popped all those yanks in there was the Domino Theory; that the collapse of one country and its turning to Communism, was an infection and that more countries would topple. As Eisenhower said in ’54 “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.” The actual idea behind the fine words being that other local rebel groups would then have the moral and material support to take over their countries.
Isn’t it nice to see that theory in effect? The domino set that is Modern Afghanistan and the Indian Subcontinent was created by the British Empire in its headlong retreat from its expensive colonies post-1945 and the random borders imposed on it created (like the trisected Kurdistan) a bunch of angry locals (specifically the Pushtun) pissed off at having to have passports to cross imposed borders into ethnically homogenous areas and take their laws from another ethnic nation. The endlessly pissed-off people there, armed by the Brits and Yanks, stopped the Sovs in Afghanistan during the 80s and stopped the communist Dominoes there, like they were in Africa and South America.
Except they didn’t really, as the dominoes just fell a different way, to nationalist fundamentalism, so they needed another knock. Clack. Which pushed that fundamentalism into the NW frontier province of Pakistan proper, knocking out America’s ally in the region, Musharraf. So now, there’s no real government in Pakistan, as Bhutto’s corrupt widower and an equally corrupt nationalist prick who also happens to be the country’s richest man (remind you of anyone?) battle it out for the increasingly wormy soul of the nation, while the once-disciplined army falls apart. Clack.
Now it turns out that the terrorists who buggered up Mumbai yesterday were probably Lashkar-e-Toiba, a terrorist organisation who’ve declared Hindus and Jews as enemies of Islam and backed by elements of the Pakistani army, to destabilise India and Afghanistan. (Because Destabilising your neighbours is a damn good idea, right?) These elements only got away with it, because the massive Pakistani army doesn’t know what it believes any more and the politicians are too obsessed with power to hold it to account. Meanwhile, now India looks unstable and its Prime Minister looks angry. No-one has time to worry about Thailand, where the army is getting restless and a vocal urban minority is trying to destabilise the democratically-elected (rotten-as-riverwood) government.
In fact, the most stable places in the region look to be the autocratic (Burma), communist (China), and the post-communist (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the rest.) Once the democrats and fundamentalists have worn themselves out and all the pieces have fallen, they’ll still be standing, ready to knock them back the other way.