Main Reasons for Why Different Groups Within Australia Supported or Opposed Australia's Involvement in the Vietnam War

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As World War 2 ended and the Cold War began, communism began to expand from Russia into South-East Asia. China and North Korea became communist and communism continued to spread south as Vietnam became independent from the French after the battle of Dien Bien Phu resulting in the country being split at the 17th parallel into communist North and non-communist South. The United States entered the war to stop the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia, as they feared that Communist forces would gain control of Vietnam. Australia being an ally of the US and for certain other reason entered the war. However, different groups within Australia either supported or opposed Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War for several reasons.

The main group supporting Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War was of course the Liberal Party led by Robert Menzies. This was mainly because of the SEATO and ANZUS treaties, which provided for collective defensive action to be taken in the event of an attack, in this case, to the United States in Vietnam. The threat of communism also triggered the “Domino Theory” which was depicted in News-Weekly on the 21st July 1954 as the communist snake swallowing the rabbit representing Vietnam, and with one of the following rabbits being Australia. The theory implied that if one land in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect and therefore communism in Vietnam posted a huge threat to Australia and so the Liberals chose to act on it as way of forward defense.

The Liberal Party, Democratic Labor Party, the press (excluding “The Australian”) and even the Catholic Church initially supported Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The common reason these parties had was their underlying fear of communism. The Democratic Labor Party was a right-wing faction that split from the Labor Party due to ideological differences after the Petrov Affair. This right-wing faction...
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