Explain why Australia became involved in the Vietnam War.
The 29th of April 1965 was a pivotal moment in Australian military history. In parliament, Robert Menzies proposed his arguments for sending Australian troops into South Vietnam and subsequently announced that Australia would be joining the United States in the Vietnam War. He believed that Australia’s allies would need help and that it was best to stop the spread of communism before it reached Australia: a forward defence technique. The pressure and increasing fear of communism amongst the Australian public would have also influenced parliament. Although faced with opposition, the proposition advanced, and later that year, the first 800 Australian troops were dispatched to Vietnam.
One of Menzies’ arguments was that Australia’s allies, specifically America, would require our help in the fight against communism in South Vietnam. At the start of the conflict, America had appealed towards its allies for help, particularly SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation), but also ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty), in actively supporting the containment of communism. In his speech, Prime Minister Menzies said, “as well as providing guarantees and assurances for our security, make demands upon us”. Australia realised that if we did not come to the aid of America in their time of need, then America would not do the same for us. It was a risk that we could not afford to take, as after WW2, Australia had made itself essentially dependent of US military aid. Therefore, Australia involved itself in the Vietnam War partially because of requests for help from the allied United States.
Forward defence was another tactic that was employed when Australian troops were sent to Vietnam. The government’s defence policy was founded upon this concept. The ideology behind this was simple and effective in that, by fighting potential enemies overseas, we would be preventing a war occurring on...
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