Australia, the US, and the Vietnam and Iraq Wars: "Hound Dog, not Lapdog"

5 July 2012

By Lloyd Cox and Brendon O'Connor

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. Read article

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Tags: Australia Us Alliance, Brendon Oconnor, Iraq War, Vietnam War


Jim Thornton

10:15 AM on Wed 11 July 2012

Very well written and researched. In my opinion, President Clinton was reluctant to send ground troops to East Timor because of the recent events in Mogadishu. That and the need to balance relations with Indonesia which is also an American ally.

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