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Reasons for Australian Involvemen in the Vietnam War

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Australia is believed to have four general reasons for its commitment to the Vietnam War. These being alliance commitments, concerns over Indonesia, the principal of forward defence and the overall fear of Communism.

Since the end of World War Two, Australia had essentially made itself dependant on American help in the event of a threat from other nations. This led to the formation of the ANZUS Treaty (1951), ensuring all possible help was available if it were ever needed. However, the simple condition of this treaty was that if America needed assistance in diplomatic or military issues, Australia would be there to take up that call, risking the loss of protection in the future if the call was not answered immediately. Australia also owed alliance to SEATO (1954) which was set up to control the spread of Communism in South East Asia and protect the nations involved in the event of "Communist Aggression" towards to nation.

A second reason for Australia's involvement is its concern over Indonesia. Indonesia hadn't quite converted to communist but the president Sukarno views were moving further and further away from the capitalist West toward the socialist world, especially China. The president Sukarno had displayed "suspicious" behaviour by consorting with socialist and importing goods from them. This provided another reason for Australia to commit troops to Vietnam. Australia feared that if the Communist wave reached Indonesia, by reaching out towards socialists, it wouldn't provide a sufficient wall at which communism might stop.. Thus, the Australian army wanted to stop the hold of Communism before it could create any more allies. This is an example of Forward Defence.

Forward Defence is defined as the process of deploying forces across the approaches to Australia to prevent a potential enemy reaching Australia. Since to Korean War, Australia had kept itself prepared for military confrontation by re-introducing conscription. This gave the impression that war was imminent and it would only be a matter of time before we were in all out conflict. The general population felt that it would be better to face to oncoming tide of Communism before it reached our shores and could potentially harm more people (e.g. Australian citizens), giving birth to the idea of Forward Defence. Participation in the Vietnam War would end the hold of Communism a few dominos earlier.

The final and most important reason for Australian commitment to the Vietnam War was the fear of Communism. Since the speeches of Churchill in 1946, Australia had felt to fear of spreading Communism and the "Domino Theory", in which nations (dominoes) were succumbing to the strangle-hold of Communism. Although the US's containment policy was promised, Australia received a shock when China joined the Communist ranks seemingly overnight, once again infighting the terror that the Communists would come south. Geographically,



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