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Topic 5 Australia in the Vietnam Era

Responses to communism: How did Australia respond to the threat of communism after World War II? (Syllabus Question) Australias response to the threat of communism in Asia after WWII included: Korean War ANZUS Treaty (1951) SEATO Alliance (1954) Australias response to the threat of communism within Australia included: Referendum to ban Communist Party Petrov Affair The background to communism after 1945: After WWII, a new conflict arose called the Cold War: Cold War: A contest between the democratic, capitalist nations of the West, led by the USA , and the communist countries in the East, lead by the Soviet Union. Communism: State ownership of all enterprises; a centrally controlled economic system that would provide equally for everyone, and a one-party (communist) state. Non-communists: Private ownership, allowing the free forces of the market to run the economy and giving the people a democratic choice of government. The cold war: Had a policy of trying to dominate certain parts of the world Used spies, economic pressure and propaganda against each other Steadily built up all types of weapons Took each other on by threatening armed conflict but always pilling back from the brink. Supported proxy wars around the world (helped smaller nations or groups who were fighting nations or groups sympathetic to or receiving aid from the other side). Western capitalist nations feared communist spread and hence Americans sought policy of containment (prevent further spread of communism). Eastern communist nations believed the capitalist West were trying to destroy communism. The spread of communism: 1945 Onward There was a great fear in the West that communism had become an unstoppable force that might take over all capitalist countries. There were many attempts by communists to seize power in many parts of the world, e.g. Latvia, Estonia, Lithuanian, Eastern Europe (except Yugoslavia), East Germany, China, South Korea and French Indochina. As communism was spreading all over the world, it was feared that it might come to Australia by one of two ways: From communist China pushing down through Asia From within, as a result of Communist Party activity in Australia The Korean War: Following Japans defeat in 1945, the Korean Peninsula was temporarily occupied by Soviet forces in the north and US forces in the south. US forces left the peninsula in 1949. Consequently, in June 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. Action: The US sought UN action against the invading North Korean forces. The UN voted to send multi-national UN force to support South Korea.

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Australias Involvement in Korea: A naval force comprising an aircraft carrier and two destroyers A squadron of the RAAF Two army battalions The ANZUS Treaty (1951): In September, 1951, the United States, Australia and New Zealand signed the ANZUS Treaty It implied that each nation would assist the other in the event of such an attack. The Australian government feared the aggressive communism and needed a strong ally in the dangerous cold war climate of the time (US and New Zealand). The ANZUS Treaty still exists and was used by some to justify Australias involvement in the Iraq War of 2003 New Zealand is currently not a part of the ANZUS Treaty. The SEATO Alliance (1954): In September, 1954, the South East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) was signed. It was a treaty between, US, Britain, Thailand, Pakistan, the Philippines, France, New Zealand and Australia. It implied the defence of each nation in the event of an attack. It bound Australia closer to the US, acknowledged the dangers in the region and backed the idea of forward defence as it took Australias front line into Asia. The response of Australian governments to the threat of communism (Syllabus Question): The response to the threat of communism within Australia included: Referendum to ban the Communist Party The Petrov Affair In 1949, the Liberal Part of Robert Menzies believed in fighting what he perceived to be the communist threat to Australia. He pursued his line of anti-communism from 1949 to the mid-1960s. Attempt to Outlaw the Communist Party (1950-51): Menzies attempted to introduce a law into Parliament that would ban the Communist Party (Communist Party Dissolution Bill of April 1950). Party would be outlawed Anyone who was a communist could be banned from certain jobs Once accused, a person had to prove their innocence. Many saw the bill as undemocratic, hence it was declared unconstitutional by the High Court. Menzies responded by calling a referendum on the issue. However the public narrowly opposed the referendum thus leading to the Communist Party being allowed. The Petrov Affair, 1954: Began with the defection (the decision by a person to change their allegiance from one country to another) of Vladimir Petrov. Menzies decided to kick the communist can Affair took a dramatic turn in late April when Petrovs wife, Evdokia was dragged onto a plane at Sydney Airport to be flown back to Moscow. The Labor Party narrowly lost the May election by seven seats Royal Commission reported in August 1955. As a result, the Australian Labor Party split. Go to

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Why did Australia become involved in the Vietnam War? (Syllabus Question): Background to the Vietnam War: Vietnam is situated in South-East Asia. 1860s-1890s: France took control of all of South-East Asia, which comprises of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. French rule was unpopular and several revolts occurred though were unsuccessful. During WWII (1940-1945): Frances defeat allowed Japanese to take control of the country. However, Japanese rule was worse than that of French. End WWII: Japanese surrender and French return to reclaim their colony. Vietnamese nationalists wanted national independence which lead to the First Indochina War (1946-1954) between Vietminh (nationalists) and the French. French suffered humiliating defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, and left the country. The Geneva Conference of 1954 divided Vietnam into two countries: North Vietnam (Communist) South Vietnam (Non-communist backed by USA) American involvement in the Vietnam War: The Vietcong (formed by South Vietnam in 1960 National Liberation Front (NLF) to fight Diem Regime) was dominated by communist North. Aims of the NLF (and N. Vietnam) were to overthrow the South and the unification of the country. US saw this as communism trying to take over the world. As a result, US sought policy of containment (American policy after 1947 of stemming the spread of Communism) and supported the South. The US also believed in the domino theory (an idea stated by President Eisenhower in 1954 that if one country fell to communism, then its neighbour would fall and, like a row of dominos all the countries of South-East Asia would fall to communism) and so believed it had to make a stand in Vietnam against communism. In 1965, the first US troops landed in Vietnam. American involvement in the Vietnam War would prove to be disastrous for both Vietnam and the United States loss of lives; devastation; conflict. Why Australia entered the Vietnam War: It was against the background of American intervention that Prime Minister Menzies decided to commit Australian troops to Vietnam. Of the 8000 Aust. Troops there at one stage, Australia was to lose 500 men in Vietnam.

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How did Australia enter the Vietnam War? 1962: Australia sent thirty military advisors to South Vietnam. This rose to 60 by 1964. Late 1964: It was clear the communists were at the point of taking South Vietnam. In November 1964, the Menzies government introduced conscription aiming to increase the size of the army to 37 500 in three years. National Service could be avoided by having a conscientious objection (such as believing in pacifism) or being a student. In November, Menzies told parliament that it might be necessary to send Aust. Troops to Vietnam. He told US President Johnson that he was willing to commit troops in December. However, South Vietnam did not want Australian troops. And so, a way had to be found to create an invitation from the South Vietnamese government. On 28 April, the South Vietnamese agreed to issue an invitation for Americans and Australians to help it against communism. The deception was seen ten years later. Apparently, Menzies was to drag the US into Vietnam and have Australia as a loyal ally. Australian support for the US continued to increase. (Harold Holt addresses speech to Johnson in Washington in 1966 you have an admiring friend, a staunch friend that will be all the way with LBJ (Johnsons initials). How did various groups respond to Australias involvement in the Vietnam War? (Syllabus Question): Differing views of Australias involvement in the Vietnam War come from:

Supporters of the war Conscientious objectors

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Members of the moratorium movement Australias involvement in the Vietnam War and the issue of conscription split the nation in the early 1960s and 1970s. However, despite the high profile of anti-war protestors and media coverage, the majority supported the government over the Vietnam War. However, support for the war was far from overwhelming. There were major doubts raised about the war and Australias involvement in it right from the start. Supporters of the War: Older Australians Believed young people should do their bit as they had done in WWII Belief in the idea of the ANZAC Spirit The Returned Servicemens League (RSL) Belief in the idea of the ANZAC Spirit Conservative elements of society Business and media (at least early on) Many in the Catholic Church and the DLP People who supported the conservative political parties The Liberal Party The Country Party (now National Party) Opposition to the Vietnam War: Young people who were beginning to question long withheld values within society Conscientious objector People who opposed conscription because of religion, pacifism, etc. Mothers Save Our Sons (Prevent Conscription) Why did people oppose the Vietnam War? People saw the war as none of Australias business. Its a civil war between two different groups of Vietnamese. From 1968 Onwards: Appeared that the US and allies (including Aust.) were losing the war. Vietnam has been called the first television war. People began to see the horrors of war and immorality. People began to question the war as they saw the united forces napalming villages, the My Lair massacre and carpet bombings. Opposition to was also came from opposition to conscription. People repulsed the idea of a birthday lottery, and that innocent you men should have to fight in a war that had nothing to do with them. The development of the anti-war movement: The anti-war movement in Australia went through three broad stages: 1. Early peaceful and ineffectual protest: Youth Campaign Against Conscription (Nov. 1964); held marches; mothers established Save our Sons organisation (prevent conscripts sent overseas); night vigils; vocal demonstrations; burning of registration cards. 2. A short-lived militant and more violent phase: Protests became radical (louder, violent and more militant) where people stormed the US embassy, developed militant groups, etc. This was not effective as people were put off by the violence and obscenities of the protests. 3. The nationwide, decentralised moratorium movement: Moratorium Movement (The idea of the moratorium was that, at a designated time, everybody would stop work and march for peace). The moratorium called for: The withdrawal of all Australian troops from Vietnam An immediate end to conscription. The protests were organised at a local suburban level by local people.

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What was the impact of the war on Australia and/or neighbouring countries? (Syllabus Question): Students are expected to study the impact of the war on ONE of the following: Vietnam veterans and their families Indo-Chinese refugees Australian culture Australias relations with Asia

Veterans and their families: Vietnam War veterans were no treated well on arrival to Australia unlike during WWI and WWII. Unlike during 1918 when the government tried to assist soldiers with the Soldier Settlement Scheme and in 1945, when returned soldiers were cheered and welcomed back as heroes, this did not happen after Vietnam. Vietnam Veterans were not seen as heroes, instead as baby killers involved in an unjust war. There was no cheering crowds, or ticker-tape parades. There was no Vietnam War welcome home parade until 1987! The psychological impact: Far fewer men served in Vietnam than in previous wars and so the war experience was understood by far fewer people in the community. The Vietnam War had been deeply unpopular and so returning soldiers had to cope with the anger and resentment from people in Australia. Many veterans suffered major medical problems on their return to Australia, e.g. posttraumatic stress syndrome. In Vietnam, soldiers were under constant stress as a Vietcong attack could occur anywhere at any place and at any time. The psychological impact on some Veterans led to violence, family breakdowns and in some cases even suicide. An inability to civilian life led some Veterans into drug dependency, alcoholism and crime. The physical impact: Many Australian soldiers served in areas that American forces had tried to defoliate (practice of destroying vegetation in order to deny the Vietcong jungle cover, using chemicals such as Agent Orange). This often resulted in rashes, cancer, and birth abnormalities in veterans children (e.g. leukaemia). Stress was often placed on the veterans families as a result of the constant denial by the government that there was any link between the chemicals used during the war and the medical conditions of Veterans and their families. School Certificate style questions: Q1. Why did Australia go into the Vietnam War? (5 marks) Q2. Explain how opposition to the Vietnam War developed. (10 marks) Q3. Explain the impact that the Vietnam War had on those who fought. (15 marks)

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