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Vietnam

BIBLIOGRAPHY Author| URL| Retrieved| Skwirk| From the arrival of the first fleet, Vietnam was a divisive issue * Australia deployed a total of 60000 troops, 521 died and 3000 were wounded * In reflection, Vietnam is described as the cause of the greatest political and social dissent and upheaval * Many draft resisters, conscientious objectors, and protesters were fined or jailed, while soldiers met a hostile reception on their return home.

The experience of Vietnam lingered with the soldiers for long after they returned home. Social Impacts: * Public response went through several stages during the war.

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* Early on, when Australia’s involvement was minimal with only the role of training

Vietnamese soldiers, public opinion was less critical, troops only sent to physically fight in 1965, they were just training South Vietnamese soldiers form 1962 onwards * Many, as was the trend in the early 60s, began to embrace the US connection and hence support resulted * Most agreed with the threat of the communist domino affect(although Menzies masterminded a lot of this), which also led to the acceptance of Australian involvement in the early 60s * Also, in the early 60s, Australia was still very conservative, and the idea of rebellion and challenging authority only set in later in the decade and the 70s.

This meant that early on many cautioned from questioning the government’s decision. * As much as war wasn’t ideal, in the early parts, before conscription, Australian’s accepted the war or paid little attention as the Australians fighting were soldiers who joined the Army * The socially divisive impact of Vietnam showed up post 1964 when the National Service Act was introduced. This had the ramifications of sending unwilling Australians to war. Draft resistors who were deemed to not have legitimate excuses were jailed on failing to comply with the National Service Act * They were released in 1972 when Whitlam ended conscription * The amendment of the Act in 1965 confirmed the inevitable that national servants could be deployed overseas, to Vietnam. * First time, an Australian was conscripted to fight outside of Aust. erritory * Socially, some disagreed more with the notion of conscription than the war itself, this maybe hinted at the fact that communist discontentment was still strong and the Domino theory was real, just not strong enough to make people overlook personal freedoms. * This led to anti-war and anti-conscription protest groups including * DENNIS TEXT * YCAC-Youth Campaign Against Conscription. 1964-7 SOS-Save our Sons. * Formed by parent groups who didn’t want their sons sent to Vietnam. * Formed in 1965, Australia wide, mainly female dominated agency. * Women were accused of being ‘bad mothers’ and communists when they approached MPs or authority * SOS saw many Liberal voters shift to the Labor camp. SOS was one of the first theatres that allowed women expression. * Basically saw ‘everyday suburban’ women become nvolved in politics and taking action to influence political decisions * The women’s movement of the 70s benefitted from anti-conscription lobby groups such as SOS * Draft Resistance Movement. Formed 1968 * The Committee for Defiance of the National Service Act. Formed 1969 * Vietnam Moratorium Movement * Formed in 1970, by then Vietnam was the longest war we had served in * Took form of peaceful protests involving many Australians from all states.

This highlighted the growing opposition, and to some extent shocked the government * ALP, and Gough fed of this massive public demonstration * Moratorium events were on a massive scale and largely peaceful, these demonstrations seemed to have a larger impact on government and political change. The government realised that, non-radical Australians had strong feelings about the war. * Really instigated the decline of Aust. Involvement in the war * The fact that every night, the horrors of Vietnam were broadcasted on Aust. elevision sets, the movement gathered motion * The Movement galvanised the people, the less radical who wouldn’t normally protest, protested such was the intense feelings about the war * This movement actively campaigned for two causes; the abolishment of conscription and the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam * Politically influenced the Labor parties win of the 1972 election, ending 23 years of Liberal rule * Interestingly, only in 1969 however did an opinion poll suggest that a majority opposed the war itself.

Up until then, the outcry was mainly rooted in the issue of conscription rather than conflict itself * However, as unrest grew, many anti-conscript groups became anti-war in the hope that only the end of the war would end conscription. * Another massive catalyst for anti-conscript protests was the reporting of the war. * Vietnam is considered the first ‘live war’ where the atrocities occurring were being broadcasted into Australian living rooms. This made sending young Australians into war against their will even more illegitimate. This also led to a questioning of whether this was was ‘just’, or being undertaken in the most human way possible. * This had the effect of also turning many anti-conscript groups, to become anti-war altogether. The fact that Vietnam was ‘live’ also helped the demise of the Liberal government as people had direct evidence to question what the government was getting Australia and particularly our young men into. Following the Labor victory, and Gough Whitlam’s order for withdrawal, social impact for the returning soldiers would ensue * Trade Unions also opposed the war, they labelled it ‘blood for Dollars’ or ‘diggers for dollars’ because they believed we were only fighting to the US would maintain its investment into Australia. This view was not entirely correct * By the latter stages, the larger majority of opposition came from university students. At first, the reaction was modest and many just viewed the war along their preferred political party lines * However, following conscription, uni students began to come out in full force.

Some of this sentiment began to be shared in the wider community as the war progressed into the late 60s * One of the major social impacts of the war was the fate of the returned soldiers. Due to the public nature of Vietnam and the atrocities that Australian people witnessed the veterans were not lauded in the same fashion as previous war vets * This was a massive change from before when the ANZACs were treated as heroes * The tragedy of this was that as much as the Aust.

People were effected by what they saw, the actual soldiers were scarred far more significantly by what they experienced first hand. * This compounded the negative experience of the returned soldiers as not only where they marginalised they had no-one but each other that could understand what they’d gone through. * These impacts lasted for much longer after the final Aust. Troops returned in 1972. * This has implications for continuity and change as following Vietnam, for the first time national servants and soldiers weren’t treated with the same admiration.

The ANZAC reverence that seemed to follow previous veterans didn’t occur with our Vietnam veterans. * This was a massive change in our attitudes towards the army Political Impacts: * On face value, it’s easy to say Vietnam cost the Liberal party government after 23 years of rule * However on closer inspection it is clear that the political consensus on Vietnam varied between 1965-1972 * White Australia Policy ended in 1972 * We opened our borders to non-white refugees. This in itself was cohesive and divisive.

Many of these refugees fought alongside our soldiers but we still had this fear of non-white immigrants threatening the ‘Aust. Way of life’ * Discontent politically only really came with Menzies introduction of Conscription on 1964. * However, Holt won the November 1966 election in a massive victory, highlighting that social discontent was not at its peak. Conscription peaked later * The political effect of Vietnam also became more prominent post 1967 when Edward Gough Whitlam became leader of the opposition. He lead a fierce campaign against conscription which captivated a swing of Liberal voters to the Labor party * This is when the protest movement as well peaked and was in full flight * 1969 election, under Gorton highlighted the swing of voters. From the ALPs flogging of 1966 they increased their share in the House of Reps from 41 to 59 seats highlighting the change in votes. * The Liberal advantage was only 7 seats now * Whitlam would go on to win the 1972 election with promises of withdrawal from Vietnam and the abolishment of conscription. The political landscape was finally shifting to progressivism after many years on conservative rule. This also began to happen on a state level * WA, NSW, TAS and SA all went from Liberal to Labour in elections between 1972-1975 shortly after the war * The Liberal’s National Services Act, was the single policy that really brought about the downfall of the Government * In terms of Political party support, the all major parties supported the war early on * Liberal support continued throughout * The DLP were very anti-communist so also supported the war. The ALP slowly began to oppose the war, as a means of attacking the government and also their disapproval also spiked when conscription was introduced * Gough Whitlam no doubt used the divisive nature, and ALPs disapproval of Vietnam to the most advantage. * Trade Unions also opposed the war, they labelled it ‘blood for Dollars’ or ‘diggers for dollars’ because they believed we were only fighting to the US would maintain its investment into Australia. This view was not entirely correct VIEWPOINTS ON THE VIETNAM WAR At the start of the period(1962) the perspective was that sending willing soldiers(not conscripts) was fine * Early on, when Australia’s involvement was minimal with only the role of training Vietnamese soldiers, public opinion was less critical, troops only sent to physically fight in 1965, they were just training South Vietnamese soldiers form 1962 onwards * We had to protect ourselves from the communist menace as well as honour our obligations as port of SEATO and ANZUS * Menzies masterminded a lot of the fear that convinced us that war was right * We were still quite conservative, trusted govt decisions * The gruesome nature of the war was not yet revelealed At Menzies announcement of sending troops in 1965, many different perspectives on the conflict emerged. Some more valid than others. * A lot thought communism was worth fighting against but found that conscripting to do so undermined other rights that were held dearly in a modern democracy * This fuelled anti-conscription protests as the reality that young men unwillingly could be sent to Vietnam. Most anti-war groups played on the injustice that this exemplified. * Importantly, the horrors of Vietnam exposed through media had not yet peaked so the atrocities that were taking place weren’t as well known about which led to that not being such a big anti-war factor. Some factions believed that training up a military was justifiable as we had done from 1962-65, but fighting for the South Vietnamese in what was really Vietnam’s civil war was not right. The idea of getting involved in other people’s business emerged * The Government claimed that as part of our SEATO agreement we were obligated to assist the fight against communism in South East Asia, i. e Vietnam. * The grey area with this is that, what does ‘assisting’ constitute? Was training the army enough or should we be physically fighting for the anti-communist forces. CONTINUITY AND CHANGE * CHANGE * During and following Vietnam, Australians began to question authority more. Beforehand, they were well trained to trust the governments judgement, but what Vietnam revealed was that governments aren’t always right *

This questioning came to full voice during the Vietnam protests but overall the experience changed Australia into a more progressive country that no longer was content to swallow everything the government told them * This represented change as previously, we were much more conservative * The exposure to ‘speaking out’ gained from the late 60s during the Vietnam years also may have had some impact on the social movements that picked up in the late 60s, early 70s(lagging behind America) * Women probably benefitted most as movements such as SOS, gave them a voice and they continued to use that to instigate change in the 70s * The general shift from conservatism was highlighted politically as well as socially. Vietnam played a major factor in Whitlam and the ALP winning government for the first time in 23 years in 1972. Political change * The change was also solidified on a state level as WA, NSW, SA and Tasmania all elected Labor governments in elections between 1972-1975 shortly after the war.

Highlighting the progressivism emerging Australia wide * People wanted change with Vietnam, and to an extent the White Australia policy and Whitlam delivered that. Also note that many too were uncomfortable with the end of White Australia as well. * The attitudes towards soldiers and veterans changed significantly for the worst. No longer where they held in such high esteem amongst society * The tragedy of this was that most of them were in desperate need for help and received little to no support other than from the RSL. * This was the first ‘live war’ as some called it. For the first time, citizens had a relatively clear understanding of what occurred in the battlefields * CONTINUITY * The war emphasised the continuation of ANZUS.

We stayed with the US right till the end effectively with us withdrawing in ‘72, a year before the last US troops * Despite the political outcry, politically we were still militarily tied to the US. We still are today * Second war with the US, first Korea then Vietnam GROUPS AFFECTED * ABORIGINALS * Aboriginals were exempt from national service, many didn’t even know their birthdate so including them in a fair ballot was difficult * The Department for Labour and National Service (DLNS) pushed for the removal of exemption but it never happened as only some states had accurate birth records and some didn’t making conscription difficult. * VETERANS * Received little support after the war * Weren’t lauded as national heroes like the ANZACS were * Suffered from mental trauma * YOUTHS The war inspired them and affected them greatly to make them speak out on a large scale for the first time in history * One of the largest groups that embodied the progressive culture that was emerging * Vietnam, and the distrust of government fuelled their rebellion against authority during the 60s and 70s * FAMILIES * WOMEN * Had a greater influence on politics for the first time * Definitely, they gained confidence from their first exposure to speaking out COHESION: * Youths voice * Youths gained a greater expression in society; this was seen by their major roles in demonstrations. * This impact however can also be seen as a divisive argument because a link to the new ‘teenage rebellion’ that followed Vietnam is quite noticeable * Women’s new status * Similarly to youths, women gained a new voice and expression during Vietnam. * Never before had they been so active in making their views on political policies known. This was the first time effectively where their actions influenced policy this was seen by the effect groups like SOS etc. had on shifting power form the Liberals to the ALP. T * his newfound voice gave them confidence to push for other reforms in the women’s movement. * The Vietnam war changed the status of women in society forever and widely this was accepted as a good thing. * Progressive mindset * Vietnam brought out a new progressive mindset in Australians that had barely seen the light of day under the conservative rule of the Menzies government. * Vietnam made people more judgmental and progressive in their thinking as the war made them realise that they shouldn’t swallow everything the government tells them. This change was evident by the swing of voters to the ALP and away from Liberal * Australia was never going to be as conservative * This was on the whole a good thing but opinion would still be split as the overall effect was that now government’s had less influence as people were now thinking for themselves * This idea of ‘thinking for yourselves’ scared some conservatives. * The change was evident in Federal politics with Whitlam’s election in 1972, but also on a state level the shift was taking place * WA, NSW, TAS and SA all went from Liberal to Labour in elections between 1972-1975 shortly after the war * DIVISIVE: * The treatment of returned Servicemen * This was a major issue Many of the retuned soldiers weren’t lauded as heroes * Some of them felt the cold treatment was unjust especially seeing some were forced(conscripted) to fight * Conscription: * Most divisive aspect other than maybe the war itself * Divisive on a few levels * Limited rights * Sent soldiers into one of the most atrocious battlefields, the public knew this because of what the media showed them * Left them scarred even after they came home. * The War itself: * Chemical weapons * The media brought this side of the war to peoples living rooms * Scarring of soldiers * Conscription * Removal of rights * ethics * How ethical was it to be getting over involved in Vietnams own civil