1. In what way was Australia involved in Vietnam in 1965 ?
In 1962 the Government of Australia decided in, response to a request from the South Vietnamese Government, to supply them with military aid. At that time, 30 instructors were sent to assist in the training of the South Vietnamese defense forces. Unofficially, in 1962, troops were sent in to train the South Vietnamese and act as a militia. The Australian public was not made aware of this until many years later after the conclusion of the war in 1972. In 1965, the war was officially declared and the public was made aware of this through the media. During this time (1965 to 1972) Australia supported the US and South Vietnam. However, Australia and the US were more concerned about the threat of a possible spread of communism rather than the well being of the South Vietnamese. In 1965, conscription was introduced to the Australian public in order to provide further assistance to the South Vietnamese. This was not widely supported by the public with many people refusing to attend the war and being putt in jail for a minimum of two years.
2. What were the reasons that Prime Minister Menzies gave that we should be fighting in Vietnam ?
Both Robert Menzies and Lyndon Johnson were willing to send in troops for one main reason. Both Menzies and Johnson feared or were concerned about a possible spread of communism within South-East Asia and even as far south as Australia. They were not too particularly concerned about the well being of the Southern Vietnamese. This is portrayed further in "˜For Australia's Sake' as a drawing of a communist man fighting in Vietnam with his shadow stretching down almost to northern Australia. Standing on the mainland of Australia is Menzies pointing at the threat. On top of this there is a comment in the drawing, " A murky shadow has fallen over this part of the world, reaching to our very shores "
3. List the reasons given by the Labor Party Leader, Arthur Calwell why we should not be fighting in Vietnam ?
Arthur Calwell believed that the decision to send troops to Vietnam was a mistake. Calwell thought that sending our troops to Vietnam would not help the fight against communism but actually harm the fight in the long term. He also believed that sending only a quarter of our small army (compared to the United States Army) was a waste of time and money. He stated that this process was not helping the South Vietnamese either. Calwell also said that the war was based on untimely assumptions on the US's behalf concerning the threat of the North Vietnamese. Calwell concluded by saying, " How long will it be before we are drawing upon our conscript youth to service these growing and endless requirements. " 1
4. Who was later proved right "“ Menzies or Calwell ? Why ?
In a sense both were proved right in a way but Menzies was more correct in his actions. The war effort was for the first time brought into the home via television, which disgusted many people. This turned many people to disapprove of the war, which was Calwell's small victory. This was felt the most on the soldiers upon their return to Australia. They were spat on and jeered at for just being part of the war, when most of them had been conscripted and had no say in weather or not they went to war. Looking back on it now it seems rather immature. Despite this, Menzies efforts were noted and approved by many members of the Australian society. The Australian defense forces were of valuable assistance to the American troops that further secured the ANZUS treaty.
1. Calwell, A., cited in Simmelhaig and Spenceley, For Australia's Sake
5. What was the attitude of the papers at the time to our decision to send troops to Vietnam ?
One of the articles featured in "˜For Australia's Sake' is by a writer for the Melbourne Herald on the 30th of April 1965. The article favors Menzies' decision to send troops to Vietnam. It also states that his (Menzies) motive was to protect the South Vietnamese, which was obviously not his main reason to send troops to Vietnam.
The Hobart Mercury was even more is agreement to Menzies decision. However, the difference between this article and the one in the Herald Sun was that the writer of that article in the Herald Sun was really aggressively agreeing with Menzies decision. The writer of the Hobart Mercury article however was focussing more on disagreeing with Calwell's opinion.
6. What was the attitude of the National Times ten years later to our decision to send troops to Vietnam ? Explain why a change of view had occurred since 1965.
The writer of the article in the National Times concurs that Menzies plan was a disaster. He (the writer) uses many examples of faults committed by the Menzies government. Among these are the following facts :
- The Australian government was not asked by Lyndon Johnston to commit to the war. In fact, Menzies was the one to pressure Mr. Johnston into committing America to the war.
- The public was not made aware of secret troop involvement from 1962 to 1965.
- The US was conducting a secret war from 1954 onwards in an effort to stamp out communism in North Vietnam
There had been a massive change of view due to the obvious. Over ten years, many investigations would have been conducted to determine previously hidden / secret facts which had been hidden by the government. These would have surfaced and been published in various magazines. From here, the public would have developed an opinion and voiced it in many different ways.
7. Explain why our understanding of events in history changes over time.
Over time, events are recalled in many different ways. This can be combated by a larger amount of facts. The only way to get more accurate facts is to do more investigating. This takes an awful amount of time and manpower. This is the main reason why over time, more facts are uncovered concerning certain instances. This gives us a further insight, over time, into what really happened in a certain occurrence.