Vietnam Days: Australia and the impact of Vietnam
Penguin, $19.95 pb, 323 pp
In their introduction to this collection of essays, the editors state that Australia’s war experiences in Vietnam left some lasting legacies, but ones that were either unexpected or unintended: a loss of moral authority on the part of Australian conservative governments, a breakdown in the defence and foreign policy consensus about the ‘threat’ to Australia, the revival of populist politics and resistance to conscription, and increasing resistance to orthodox political views on other issues.
The authors also see the war experience as having done lasting damage to the United States’ image in Australia and, instead of reinforcing and sustaining the political will of Washington to maintain a strong military presence to our near north, as having resulted in the partial disengagement formalised in President Nixon’s Guam Doctrine. Nor, despite the later efforts by Labor governments and elements of the Australian press, did the war really reinforce Anzac mythology in the minds of many Australians.