The American connection and Australian policy in Southeast Asia, 1945-1965

Sah Hadiyatan Ismail (2009). The American connection and Australian policy in Southeast Asia, 1945-1965 PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Sah Hadiyatan Ismail
Thesis Title The American connection and Australian policy in Southeast Asia, 1945-1965
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-08-01
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof. Robert Elson
Dr. Martin Crotty
Total pages 209
Total black and white pages 209
Subjects 21 History and Archaeology
Abstract/Summary In 1942 Curtin officially turned Australia to the United States for support and regarded the United States as Australia’s ally in World War II. Curtin’s call to the US set a precedent for Australia’s foreign and defence policy to rely on American support. This thesis analyses the Australian effort to become an ally to the Americans in the early 1950s and to increase American interest in the defence of Southeast Asia. ANZUS and SEATO culminated the Australian effort in bringing the Americans to the defence of Southeast Asia and Australia. Australia believed that it had ‘a special relationship’ with the United States through the formation of these treaties and regarded these treaties, especially ANZUS, as the cornerstone of Australia’s defence. The United States, however, did not give any special significance to these treaties and continued to treat Australia as it treated other friendly countries. The main focus of this thesis is on how the American-Australian alliance forged through ANZUS and SEATO influenced Australian foreign policy regarding Southeast Asia, especially in relation to issues such as the West New Guinea sovereignty problem, the defence of Malaya, Konfrontasi and Vietnam. The central argument is to examine how the American connection affected Australian foreign policy in Southeast Asia. As both countries saw the importance of this area to their strategic and defence interest and were heavily involved in the defence of Southeast Asia after World War II, this thesis will analyse on how the Australians reacted to and interacted with the Americans. This thesis reveals that Australia’s suggestions, plans, views and opinions regarding events in Southeast Asia were constantly rejected by the Americans. This rejection however, did not deter the Australian government from continuously pursuing a policy that would impress the United States. Australia tried hard to be a ‘good buddy’ to the Americans and became ever more subservient and submissive to American wishes. Although there were cases where Australia tried to pursue a policy that differed from the Americans, as in West New Guinea prior to 1959 and in the defence of Malaya, these Australian efforts could not sustain pressure from other actors and were doomed to failure without the support of the Americans. The failure to pursue independent policies was influenced by the increasingly dependent attitude of the Australian government towards the Americans and the fear that Australia would be left alone to defend itself. As Britain, Australia’s traditional ally’s influence in Southeast Asia was in decline,Australia perceived that it did not have other choices but to cling ever more tightly and submissively to the Americans for its own survival.
Keyword ANZUS
Australian foreign policy
United States foreign policy
Southeast Asia

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Created: Tue, 20 Apr 2010, 07:22:36 EST by Mr Sah Ismail on behalf of Library - Information Access Service