Australia's Involvement in Vietnam War and the Communism Threat
The Vietnam War had important social and political effects on Australian society. Reasons for the Australian entry into the Vietnam War were complex but were dominated mainly by a fear of the spread of communism throughout Asia in the Cold War period, and a desire to ensure the support of the United States if Australian security should be threatened in the future. In the years preceding the Vietnam War, there were many close calls with insurgent communism dating right back to World War 2. All of these plus others contributed to the Australian belief that we join the Vietnam War.
The reasons as to why Australia became involved in the Vietnam War have been traditionally painted in the colours of "collective security" and as part of the anti-Communist "crusade" to contain a world wide communist threat.
Perhaps most important of these was a very poor perception by the Government of world affairs at that time. Throughout the late fifties and sixties Australian diplomatic circles were firmly convinced of a rebellious "Communist Threat" outside Australia. This threat, initially directed by Moscow, and later by Beijing, dominated Australian diplomatic thought for approximately fifteen years.
The anti- Communist policy of the government under Menzies became electorally self-rewarding and they sought to use it wherever possible. This does not deny that they were not totally convinced for the best of reasons but that they also managed to convince the electorate that Communism must be opposed wherever possible.
When Menzies made his statement suggesting, "The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia," the anti-Communist convictions developed over the previous five years were now convincing them to intervene and this action led Australia into the "dilemma of the Vietnamese civil war."
Communism was seen as an aggressive force to destroy the western society of capitalism and democracy. In 1945, there was one Communist state in the world, Russia by 1949 with the establishment of the Communist Peoples' Republic of China led by Chairman Mao, 11 countries were now communists. The Australian Government was also concerned that United States involvement in the South East Asian area should be encouraged and supported in case of future threats in the region.
With this growing fear in mind, Australia had long suffered from a sense of unease about its position as the only European settled country in Asia. Australian society had long harbored a fear of the "yellow hordes" waiting to "descend upon Australia" and steal it away from the privileged few white colonialists living here.
The fear of this Communist aggression was founded upon what was referred to as the "Domino Theory" by its exponents. Unless this aggressive action by China was stopped in Vietnam, the...