Australian-American relations 1941-1965, from Pearl Harbor to Vietnam

Englert, David. (1997). Australian-American relations 1941-1965, from Pearl Harbor to Vietnam Master's Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Englert, David.
Thesis Title Australian-American relations 1941-1965, from Pearl Harbor to Vietnam
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1997
Thesis type Master's Thesis
Supervisor Dr. J. Siracusa
Total pages 186
Language eng
Subjects 210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Formatted abstract
"The weak accept what they have to accept". (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Book V, Paragraph 89)

Since its formative years, the central objective of Australian foreign policy has been to seek means of ensuring national security in a world where great powers were not in the habit of taking too much notice of smaller powers. The fact is that Australian policy and decision makers, tasked with protecting a small power with a vast land mass, situated on the fringe of Asia, have needed to be selective and clever when it comes to dealing with Australian security concerns. In effect, this has meant that Canberra has attempted to enlist a larger power to provide for the bulk of Australia's defence and to become the guarantor of the nation's security.

The Japanese entry into World War Two and the resultant war in the Pacific marked a significant turning point in Australian defence and foreign policy with the decline and collapse of the great European icons of Pacific defence. The rapid fall of the Malaya peninsula and Singapore comprehensively undermined the concept of British Imperial Defence while the fall of the rest of South-East Asia shattered the notion that the European powers with colonies in this region could hold these possessions against a determined attack upon the region. Only the U.S. had proved itself to be interested in, and capable of, opposing and defeating the Japanese in the Pacific and this fact was not lost on Canberra. After World War Two, the communist threat to South-East Asia and, by implication, to Australia, dominated the Australian government's security concerns and Canberra began to turn to Washington for support. The U.S. was seen as the only nation capable of being able to effectively ensure Australian defence. To this end, Australian policy and decision makers were extremely effective in formalizing links between Canberra and Washington and this, combined with the declining but still significant British commitment to the defence of the region allayed Australian security concerns. So confident was Canberra that these two allies could be relied upon to protect Australian interests that a large or even moderate defence budget was seen to be unnecessary. What the Australian government did not appreciate was that these allies had interests that went beyond the scope of Australia's immediate region and that Canberra's interests were only being coincidentally served by Washington and Whitehall. Both these nations had no hesitation in leaving Australia to its own devices when Canberra pursued a different line to themselves over certain international issues. In such cases, Canberra could attempt to use what little influence it had with Washington to alter the American stance, yet the impetus for major policy changes could only come from the U.S. and such changes were only coincidental to Australian interests.

Keyword Australia -- Foreign relations -- United States
United States -- Foreign relations -- Australia

Document type: Thesis
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