Explain why Australia became involved in the Vietnam War.
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There are a number of reasons why Australia got involved in the Vietnam War. Let us look at two of the more important of these reasons.
First, just as was the case with the United States, Australian governments were worried about the "domino effect." They feared that a communist Vietnam would cause other countries in the region to become communist. This would have constituted a very real threat to Australia as Vietnam and the countries surrounding it are not very far from Australia. This fear was exacerbated by the fact that there were strong communist insurgencies going at the same time in Malaysia and Thailand.
Second, there was a felt need to support Australia's allies. All of Australia's major allies such as the US and Great Britain supported the war. Australia felt that it needed to take its place among the serious anti-communist countries of the world. It also felt that it needed to support the US. This would, it felt, encourage the US to feel an affinity with Australia. This was important to Australia's security because Australia hoped for American support against any threats to its security.
Australia was involved in the Vietnam war for a variety of reasons and each had a significant impact on the ultimate decision.
Initially, the Australian government sent about 30 military advisors to help train the RVN army and when combatants were sent in 1965, Menzies claimed that South Vietnam had 'invitied' Australia to help them fight.
The Australian government was very aware of Communism spreading throughout Asia and labelled this is as the 'domino effect', fearing the Australia would ultimately fall to communism because of our geographical proximity to these countries. As a result, Menzies promoted the Forward Defence strategy to fight communism before it came to Australia.
Menzies also implemented the Forward Defence strategy as a means of preventing war from coming to Australia. He publicised the view that "... The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia...", fearing that the takeover of South Vietnam would mean war for Australia.
Fiurthermore, Australia had a number of political obligations to fulfill and denying their responsibilities as part of the ANZUS, 1951 and SEATO, 1954 treaties would label Australia as cowardly, unreliable, undependable and untrustworthy. It would have also exposed Australia to more military threats and left us without support from key allies.
Finally, Australia had joined the Vietnam War as a demonstration of support for our American ally. After the Second World War, it had become clear that America was the new superpower and the Australian government felt they needed to have the world's most powerful nation on their side should Australia be attacked.
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