Australia's Involvement in the Vietnam War
Uploaded by newmania on Nov 01, 2006
Australia’s Involvement in the Vietnam War
Following the withdrawal of the last Australian troops in 1972 more than 46000 Australian personnel had served in Vietnam.
This is out of a population of approximately 11 million. Of these, 3000 were wounded and almost 500 were killed.
Australia became involved in Vietnam because of a longstanding alliance with the USA since World War 2.
It can be argued that Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War had its origins in the Cold War. By 1945 the world had been divided between two superpowers: the USA and the USSR. The animosity and conflict that arose between the two nations was known as a cold war because it did not involve direct conflict with the USA formally fighting a war with the USSR. These two superpowers had a major ideological and political difference: the USA was and is a democratic, capitalist nation; the USSR was communist. Australia is also a democratic, capitalist nation and has been a formal ally of the USA since World War 2.
1949 and 1950 are two key dates in Australia’s involvement in Vietnam.
In 1949 China became a communist country. In 1959 communist North Korea invaded democratic South Korea. Australia supported the US in maintaining democracy in South Korea. The fear was that if one country in Asia fell to communism many more would follow; this is known as the domino effect. As a result, the US became involved in Vietnam from 1959 to 1973 and due to our alliance with the US; Australia became involved from 1965 to 1972.
The period 1949-1966 is known as the Menzies Era.
Robert Menzies became Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister and during his time in office Australia read its highest standard of living. As a result, Australians were fearful about the rise of communism in countries throughout Europe and Asia. Communism saw basic freedom and civil rights taken away from its citizens under the pretence of equal rights for all; thus limiting the growth of communism became a major issue in Australian politics.
As the US had dealt with another fear of post-war Australians, Japanese resurgence; keeping communism at bay became a priority. Australia’s alliance with Brittain no longer provided strategic security in the Asia Pacific region and as a result the US became out strongest ally. In order to ensure Australia’s security the government signed treaties with countries in the region; these included ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand and United States) and...