In a new report by the US Studies Centre at Sydney University titled, Australia, the US, and the Vietnam and Iraq Wars: “Hound Dog, not Lapdog”, the findings are interesting:
In this article, Maquarie University’s Lloyd Cox and the US Studies Centre’s associate professor in American politics Brendon O’Connor refute the portrayal of Australia as America’s pliant ally in the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, instead arguing that Australian leaders saw such involvement as strategic opportunities to strengthen the Australian–American alliance. In the case of the Vietnam War particularly, the Australian government also saw these conflicts as a way to draw America into greater military engagement in their region. Cox and O’Connor’s interpretation follows earlier revisionist scholarship on the Vietnam War, but is strengthened by new archival evidence. In the case of the 2003 Iraq War, their position is inevitably more provisional due to the lack of archival material. However, after interviewing senior government officials to better understand the Howard government’s motivations for military involvement in Iraq, they discern a similar pattern of strategic motivation. The article concludes with a discussion of the costs and benefits of using wars to strengthen the Australian–American alliance.
The message? Our leaders, in both major political parties, are routinely seduced by the allure of being close to the US, no matter the folly of the mission. Of course they rarely articulate this as the main reason we go to wars. Instead, we’re told about “fighting terrorism”.