Policies Enacted During The Vietnam War

1742 words - 7 pages

The Vietnam War was unlike any other war the US and its allies had ever fought in during its course of history. 50 years ago during the time of the cold war, the confrontation between communism of the United States and the capitalism of the soviets was a simple fact of life. (Frankum, 2003).The Vietnam conflict began in 1959 and ended in 1975. It started when communist leader of North Vietnam Ho Chi Minh invaded South Vietnam in an attempt to reunite Vietnam under one government. Since America had a world wide commitment to contain the spread of communism so they had to prevent the fall of South Vietnam. Australia, being one of America’s allies, sent in troops to Vietnam. During the Vietnam era, the fear and spread of communism played a part in shaping some of Australia’s major policies. The main government policies and legislations enacted during that era under Menzies was the forward defense policy, the policy relying on ‘great and powerful friends’ which was part of forward defense and the National service act 1964.The most important policy of that time in Australia was the forward defense policy. It was made to counter the domino theory. The domino theory was a belief in both the US and Australia between the 1950s and the 1960s that if communism was not contained it would spread to the rest of South-East Asia as it had spread to china and the soviets. It was a widely held view that if one Asian country fell to communism, like dominoes, all of Asia would soon follow.Forward defense can be defined in various ways. In its strictest sense, it means ‘the deployment of forces along the approaches to Australia to prevent a potential enemy reaching Australia’ (Mediansky, 1992) and in that case, communism. This policy was introduced by Sir Robert Menzies in the 1950s. It was believed that it would increase security and the ability to contain communism. It was the cornerstone of Australian defense planning in the early 1960s,(Edwards, 1997) a concept which complemented the United States policy of 'containment' of Communism in south-east Asia and embraced Australia's obligations under the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).Australia under the Menzies government was very anti communist during the 1950s-1960s. So as part of the forward defense policy, Australia saw that it was better to fight communism overseas to prevent it from spreading to Australia. Australia wanted to "kick the communist can"(Cain, 1997) and defeat communism with its forward defense policy before the domino effect took place and communism reached Australian shores. Menzies created a fear of communism and 'reds under the bed' and made Australians feel vulnerable.(Cain,1997)Australians didn’t like the idea of communism as it imposes a lot of restrictions on them such as on wealth, lack of free speech and other necessary human rights.Forward defense within the American alliance has meant that Australia has frequently had to involve itself in...

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