Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why did Australia become involved in the Vietnam War?

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Australia became involved in the Vietnam War because Australia felt threatened by the expansion of communism. Many people within Australia believed that if South Vietnam became a communist country, other countries would soon follow. Some Australians saw what was happening in Vietnam as a threat to Australia’s security. This was called the “domino effect.”

Growing tension between The USSR and the USA In the fifties And sixties was another reason too strengthen Australia’s defence alliance.

The SEATO treaty of 154 was, the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty provided for collective defensive action to be taken in the event of an attack on the United States, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand or Pakistan.

The possibility of communism spreading to Australia from Asia was regarded with increasing seriousness as political change came to the region. It was believed that if one nation fell under communist domination, its neighbours would fall like in a line of dominoes. In 155, Australian troops were sent to Malaya to assist the British against communist guerrilla forces. In March 160, there were strong communist influences in the Indonesian Government giving rise to sense of threat of communist aggression close to Australian territory.

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The Indo-Chinese region had been a colony of France during the nineteenth century. During this time and early twentieth century, resentment against French rule was growing. By 10 only twenty five percent of Vietnamese farmers owned their own land. A national movement of independence and freedom from foreign rule began.

In 141, Ho Chi Minh founded the League for Vietnamese Independence. This movement aimed to free Vietnam from the French and Japanese, who were taking their place.

By 145 the Japanese were withdrawing, Ho Chi Minh declared the free public of Vietnam. The French refused to recognize the new republic and war broke out. From 145 to 154 the Vietminh fought the French, finally defeating them.

In July 154 the Geneva Accords were signed to conclude the Indochina War and Vietnam was temporarily partitioned, at the 17th parallel, into a Communist-ruled north, backed by the USSR and China, and non-Communist south, supported by the United States. Under the terms of the accords national elections were to be held by July 156 to decide on the unification of the country. When the elections were stalled, North Vietnamese forces and Communist guerrillas resumed an insurgency war of terror and political indoctrination against the government and people of South Vietnam.

In 16 was Australia’s first active involvement in Vietnam when a group of military advisors were sent to train the South Vietnamese army. From 155 to May 160 the USA sent three hundred, then up to six hundred and eighty five advisors to train the South Vietnamese army. In 160 the USA’s President Kennedy increased the number of advisors to three thousand two hundred. By 168 five hundred US troops were involved.

The first Australian troops were sent in nineteen sixty five, the first infantry battalion and HMAS Sydney were sent to Vietnam. Around this time war escalated on North Vietnam and the commitment of allied troops in South Vietnam rose.

Later in nineteen sixty six, the majority of the Australian people were seen to support the war so the number of troops in South Vietnam were increased.

The main objection the Australian people had against the war was the conscription of young men.

Australians who supported the war claimed that the communist governments of China and the Soviet Union were planning to take over the whole of South-East Asia. It was believed if South Vietnam fell to communism, then one Asian country after another would continue to fall, another example of the ‘domino theory.’

After World War two, a great struggle developed between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States supported anti communist governments in many nations, and the Soviet Union obviously supported Communist governments. The two superpowers didn’t fight each other directly; they fought through support towards other countries. This was known as the Cold War, it occurred from nineteen forty five till 18. Australia was on the United States side, and this strengthened our defensive alliance with the superpower, and our defensive alliance would strengthen even more if we offered support at the Vietnam War.

The Korean War had also been a big step in securing a firm alliance for Australia and the United States.

The SEATO alliance treaty of 154 also granted protection for South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos under the treaty’s security arrangements.

The ANZUS agreement of 151 was Australia, New Zealand and the United States agreed to come to one another’s aid in the event of an attack. These two treaties gave a good reason for Australia to support its allies in Vietnam to stop communism.

The involvement of Australian forces in Vietnam was a gradual process of escalating commitment which took place over a period of several years against a background of Cold War concerns with regional security and fear of Communist expansion. The cornerstone of Australian defence planning in the early 160s was forward defence, a concept which complemented the United States policy of containment of Communism in south-east Asia and embraced Australias obligations under the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO). Australia went into Vietnam to show the United States that Australia was a good ally, and to stop the spread of communism getting any closer to Australia. Many people didn’t question the war; they either supported it or saw that Australia was doing its duty to support the war effort. As the war dragged on, some people questioned Australia’s role in the war. This war split our nation’s people and provoked violent confrontations. The Vietnam War was Australia’s longest war, and the only war in which we fought on the losing side. It was also our only ‘unofficial’ war, where Australia didn’t declare war on the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese.

The Vietnam War was in some ways pointless and in other ways a war that Australia needed to take part in. It split our nation, but didn’t split our strong alliance with the United States.

Charlie H Australia and the World in the twentieth century. 18 McGraw Hill books

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