Superpowers after ww2: usa and Soviet Union

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World Communism, The Cold War and the Vietnam War
International politics after World War 2: The Cold War

  • World politics dominated by two superpowers after WW2:

  • USA and Soviet Union (USSR ~ Russia)

  • Western bloc versus Eastern bloc

  • Each superpower had nuclear weapons (atomic bombs)

  • USA: capitalist, democracy, different political parties, freedom of speech

  • Soviet Union: communist, single party government, no freedom of speech

  • The ‘conflict’ between these two superpowers became known as the Cold War

  • Flashpoints of the Cold War: Korean War, Vietnam War and the Cuban Missile Crisis

  • The Cold War was a conflict between ideologies of ways of thinking

  • People were fearful it could lead to all out war and the use of atomic weapons by the superpowers

Communism in Asia and the Domino Theory

  • 1949: China becomes a communist country under the leadership of Mao Tse Tung

  • North Korea soon follows and becomes communist.

  • People began to fear the domino theory: one country after another falls to communism

  • Dominoes: China > Vietnam > Thailand > Malaysia > Indonesia > Australia?

  • People were afraid of the ‘red tide’ of communism and ‘reds under the beds

  • People became paranoid about communism: Senator McCarthy and his anti-communist committee in the USA is an excellent example of this

Anti-communism in Australia

  • Robert Menzies of the Liberal Party promises he will introduce legislation to ban the Communist Party during the 1949 election campaign

  • Menzies and the Liberal Party won the election

  • In 1950 his Liberal Party government introduced the Communist Party Dissolution Bill

    • This bill proposed to ban the Communist Party and to outlaw communism

    • People accused of being communist had to prove their innocence: it would be a loss of free speech

    • Many Australians were angered by this potential loss of freedom

    • Trade Unions and the Australian Communist Party fought the legislation in the High Court and won

    • Prime Minister Menzies then attempted to get Communism banned through a referendum

    • Australians voted “no” against the idea to outlaw communism

  • The government even tried to use censorship to control communism in Australia

  • The government censored films, books, publications and even art

  • This was successfully challenged by people like the author Frank Hardy

The Petrov Affair

  • 1954: Prime Minister Menzies announces that a diplomat from the Soviet Union Embassy in Canberra has defected and gone to the Australian government for asylum and protection. It was the 13th April, 1954.

  • The name of the Soviet Union diplomat was Vladimir Petrov

  • Petrov told the Australian government that there were spies from the Soviet Union spying in Australia

  • This episode became known as the Petrov Affair and just before the 1954 election Australians were once more fearful of communism

  • The Labor Party and its leader Dr Evatt were not told about the allegations of a communist spy ring. He felt it was a set up by the Liberal Party to embarrass the Labor Party just before the 1954 election so that Menzies and the Liberal Party would win the election

  • Robert Menzies and the Liberal Party won the Federal election in 1954

  • The attempted abduction of Mrs Petrov by two Soviet Union embassy officials and the arrest of the two Soviet officials at Darwin airport was sensational at the time

  • This sensational episode added fuel to the anti-communism fire

  • A royal commission investigated the claims of a spy ring. The investigation found that:

    • Staff of the Soviet Union embassy in Canberra has been spying

    • The Labor Party and other Australians had no involvement in the spy ring

  • Not long after the Korean War broke out in 1952 and Australia sent soldiers to fight the communists of North Korea

Why did Australians fight in Vietnam?

  • Australia participated in the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1972

  • 47000 Australian men and a large number of women fought in the Vietnam War

  • This reflected Australia’s stance against the spread of communism and the support of its ally: the USA

  • Australia joined two important alliances at the time:

    • ANZUS

    • SEATO

  • Australia had sent troops to fight communism in Korea

  • Australia had sent troops to fight communism in Malaya

  • When war broke out in Vietnam Australia began to fear the ‘Domino Theory’

  • So Australia sent troops to fight in Vietnam because it felt that a communist takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia

  • And Australia sent troops to fight in Vietnam because it wished to support the USA

Australia Goes “All The Way”

  • Australia supported the efforts of USA to stop the spread of communism to South Vietnam

  • Vietnam had recently gained independence from its French colonial masters and it had split into two countries: North Vietnam and South Vietnam in 1954

    • North Vietnam was communist and it was led by Ho Chi Minh

    • South Vietnam was capitalist

  • The Australian government agreed to send 30 military advisers to South Vietnam in 1962 to support the US actions in the region

  • In 1964 the USA claimed that North Vietnam had torpedoed its ships in Vietnam so the USA started aerial bombing of North Vietnam

  • In 1965 PM Robert Menzies a committed Australian troops to fight in Vietnam

  • In 1996 PM Robert Menzies tripled the number of Australian troops in Vietnam

  • Total war broke out in Vietnam

  • In 1966 Australia warmly welcomed the visit of the American president, Lyndon Baines Johnson. He was known as LBJ.

    • The rest of the world was becoming critical of the involvement of the USA in the Vietnam War but Australia stood by the USA

    • The new Prime Minister of Australia, Harold Holt said Australia would go “All The Way with LBJ”. This meant Australia would support the USA 100%.

  • There were protests against Australia’s support in the Vietnam War but the Liberal Party still won the election in 1966 and more troops were sent to Vietnam

Conscription and Anti-War Protests in Australia

  • People in Australia began to doubt whether or not it was a good thing to fight in the Vietnam War

  • Protests became larger and more vocal

  • In 1964 conscription or National Service was reintroduced in Australia

    • All males had to register for National Service when they reached 20th birthday

    • They were selected to serve in the army for two year if chosen in a lottery system

    • In 1996 Prime Minister Harold Holt announced that conscripts would be sent to Vietnam in addition to full time professional soldiers

    • In May 1966 the first conscripted soldier was killed in Vietnam

  • People began to protest more widely

  • Protestors who were angry at our involvement in the Vietnam War and Conscription included:

    • Religious groups

    • Members of the Australian Communist party

    • Youth Against Conscription

    • Save Our Sons

    • The Labor Party that was led by Arthur Calwell

    • University students

  • People began to burn conscription draft cards and also started “Don’t Register” for National Service campaigns

Moratorium_Movement___It_was_television_that_brought_home_to_the_nation_the_horrors'>The Moratorium Movement

  • It was television that brought home to the nation the horrors of the Vietnam War

    • Dead soldiers, dead and maimed children, bombing campaigns all horrified Australians

    • The Vietnam War was now on the evening news

  • Protests against the Vietnam War widened and now began to involve Australians from all sections of the community

    • Some of the biggest protests and rallies in Australia’s history took place

    • Moratorium rallies were held led by people like Labor politician Jim Cairns

  • The two demands of the moratorium movement were:

    • The immediate, total and unconditional withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam and the region of Indochina

    • The Immediate abolition (ending) of conscription

  • The moratorium campaign was powerful and intense

  • The protests were so powerful that in 1972 there was a change of government in Australia and the Liberal Party was no longer in power after being in government for 27 years

    • The Labor Party led by Gough Whitlam won the election in December, 1972.

    • Gough Whitlam immediately ended conscription and National service

    • Gough Whitlam immediately recalled the Australian Army from Vietnam and ended our involvement in the Vietnam War

  • The USA reduced their own commitment to the war in 1974.

  • The communists of North Vietnam won the war in 1975 and took control of all of Vietnam

The effect of the Vietnam War on Australians

  • The war had a deep impact on Australians

  • Australians became more politically aware and more politically active

  • Australians became aware of and discussed issues like the Cold War, conscription, the nuclear arms race between the superpowers, freedom of speech.

  • Australians had feared communism in the 1950s.

  • This fear had reduced by the 1970s.

  • In 1973 Australian established diplomatic relations with communist China

  • The Vietnam War had been an unpopular war and the Vietnam veterans of the war were not given an official until nearly 15 years after the end of our involvement in the war

Problems for the Vietnam Veterans returning from the war in Vietnam

  • Vietnam veterans had come home to Australia where they were treated with contempt and hostility by Australians that were opposed to the war

  • They were not thanked for their efforts

  • Many veterans did not receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Many veterans were exposed to dangerous chemical during the war in Vietnam

  • In 1980 the Vietnam Veterans’ Association of Australia was established to get help for the veterans and to get money from the government

  • The Australian government finally recognised in 1994 that chemicals like Agent orange that were used in the war did have an effect on the health of Vietnam veterans and the government began to help the veterans and their families

  • The Vietnam Veterans’ Association is a good example of how citizens working together can influence a government

Communism and the Vietnam War: Do you know the answer to these questions?

  • Which two countries were the superpowers after WW2?

  • What was the Cold War?

  • What was the Domino Theory?

  • What was the Petrov Affair?

  • Why did Australia join the USA in the Vietnam War?

  • What is meant by “Australia Goes All The Way With LBJ?”

  • What was the Moratorium Movement?

  • What happened to our Vietnam Veterans?

  • Who was:

    • Robert Menzies

    • Ho Chi Minh

    • Vladimir Petrov

    • Dr Evatt

    • Frank Hardy

    • Harold Holt

    • Lyndon Baines Johnson

    • Gough Whitlam

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