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The foreign policy of the Whitlam government.

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Introduction

The foreign policy of the Whitlam government This presentation will be about the foreign policy of the Whitlam government, why it was implemented and how it helped create a more independent Australian nation with better relations towards its neighbours. Australia's foreign policy until 1972 was primarily determined by the evolution of the Cold War and the ANZUS alliance. Australia committed itself to the anti-communist power bloc of the US, because it feared that most importantly its northern neighbour Indonesia, but also other surrounding Asian nations might fall to Communism. For its security alliance however, Australia had to pay a huge price, which was the involvement in the Korean and Vietnam War. The policies of the Liberal party, 23 years in office, became a matter of excessive domestic discord, as its foreign policy was careful not to offend the US/Britain. As Whitlam summed Australian foreign policy until 1972 its "foundation was fear of foreigners; its focus was fear of communism and because the fears in turn focused so sharply on China and the Chinese version of communism, they were rooted in racism". (Whitlam, G. The Whitlam Government) Australian prime minister Bob Hawke delivered the following speech on 24th May 1991, which summed up the foreign policy up to 72. ...read more.

Middle

However when the president of the US, Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, the world was in shock and the rightness of Whitlam's beliefs and in Australia's change of foreign policy was confirmed. Despite making very important strategic changes to Australia's foreign policy not all agreed in the rightness of Whitlam's foreign policy. This is the view of Grant Evans, a famous historian and expert on South East Asia: "The Whitlam government dramatically revitalized the Australian political landscape. It was a meteorite, short and dramatic, rather than a star, stable and lasting. In particular it had not tackled the essential task of self-reliance in defense. Until Australia grasped the nettle, the alliance with the US would always offer itself to Australia's governments as a simple and cheap way of apparently securing Australia." (Ibid, p47) In this statement Mr. Grant empathizes that Australia should become independent of the US, but he fails to look at Whitlam's achievements in foreign policy in South East Asia, which set a stone in order for Australia to "grasp the nettle", as he ironically implies. Whitlam's foreign policies did help create a more independent Australian nation. ...read more.

Conclusion

One regrets that at the present time it does not seem always to show much sympathy in every part of the world". (Whitlam, G The Whitlam Government) The US mistake in foreign policy, foreseen by the Labor leader in the 1950's, was sadly realized too late, as another speech 20 years later depicts: "We now enter a new and more hopeful era in our region. The settlement agreed upon by Washington and Hanoi is the settlement easily obtainable in 1954. The settlement now in reach - the settlement that 30 000 Australian troops were sent to prevent, the settlement which Mr. McMahon described in November 1967 as treachery - was obtainable on a dozen of occasions since 1954. " From the evidence it can be said that Australian foreign policy was changed because of Whitlam's wisdom, pre-knowledge and vision of a peaceful South East Asia and not one absorbed in fears, suspicion and war. The Whitlam government implemented its policies, because it recognized the mistake in following the US policy and because it made changes to its foreign policy that were achievable within Australia's constitution and that didn't sacrifice Australia's relationship with the US. Australia from 1972-75 thus became a more independent and secure nation by the belief of the Whitlam government for peace and closer relations towards its South East Asian neighbours. ...read more.

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