End of Australia's participation in the Vietnam War

January 10, 2019

On 11 January 1973, after a three-year staged wind-down of our military effort, Australia formally ended its participation in the Vietnam war. 

During the previous month, the newly-elected Whitlam government – which North Vietnam and its Marxist leader, Ho Chi Minh, welcomed – had withdrawn (a week before Christmas) the handful of Australian troops that had been left throughout 1972 to advise and skill South Vietnamese troops (Our platoon guarding the Australian embassy in Saigon was withdrawn by mid-1973)

The withdrawal ended Australia’s long involvement since mid-1962 with the United States of America and allied forces in this grinding conflict to help rid, stem or resist the creeping scourge of tyrannical Marxism emanating from the north and devouring Vietnam, and Indo-China more generally.

  • As with most/all Marxist insurgency movements, it was funded, aided and abetted from opportunistic, strategic outside forces – by Mao-Marxist China (to the immediate north) and, in particular, by the then world headquarters of Marxism since the Russian revolutions of 1917 – the Soviet Union.

Almost 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam over the entire conflict, most of which were army personnel, with 521 killed and over 3,000 wounded.

In no small part due to the first real wave of cultural Marxism and “community organising” – which had swept so much of the West in the 1960s, particularly through our academia and liberal press – the Vietnam War by the 1970s had become politically very unpopular in the US, Australia and the West more generally. (After all, the Marxists were losing.)

For the first time in the West, people outwardly questioned and protesting en masse our military efforts against the world’s existential Marxist scourge, with troops sadly meeting a hostile reception on their return home (cf the usual hero’s welcome from a proud and grateful populace). This made integration back into civilian life particularly difficult (and more so than ever before).

By early 1973, the US-led West had won the war and peace for South Vietnam against the Marxist creep only to have it unnecessarily and tragically thrown away by late-April 1975 when Saigon fell.  The Marxists had resumed hostilities after the Democrat-led US Congress de-funded the military re-supply commitment Nixon/Kissinger had made to the South in their truce with the North (see further details below).

Mark/commemorate this anniversary of Australia exiting the Vietnam War by:

Further details around the Vietnam War and post-withdrawal

By the early 1970s – after almost a decade of fighting – the West had essentially defeated (and certainly halted) the Marxist infiltration of Vietnam from the north. After extensive US bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong in December 1972, the Marxist imperialist aggressors of North Vietnam and the Viet Cong desperately entered peace talks and signed a truce (the Paris Peace Accord) with the US-led West and South Vietnam in late January 1973 (called Victory in Vietnam Day).

  • A key condition of the accord – to credibly keep the peace and the Marxist imperialists at bay – was that the US government would re-supply (from its own pockets) South Vietnam with any military hardware it used in defending itself from its Marxist aggressors to the north.

The truce allowed allied forces, including Australia, to withdraw remaining troops with little consequence, and we did so.

1974 and 1975 brought some crucial developments:

  • the Watergate scandal of mid-1974, causing the then Republican President, Richard Nixon, to resign
  • the Democrats winning the US mid-term elections in a landslide later that year, subsequently de-funding the US commitment made to South Vietnam to re-stock any arms/weaponry they used, effectively throwing them to the Marxist truce-breakers to their north^, and
  • further strengthening Mao’s China via the West’s premature thawing and normalisation of international relations (diplomatic, economic and trade) with the once teetering Marxist giant*

The Marxist insurgency from the north resumed, Saigon and South Vietnam fell (in April 1975), the Vietnamese boat people tragedy began and Marxism spread to Cambodia (Pol Pot and his Killing Fields) and Laos.

After such a long, gruelling war and victory, it was a travesty for the hard-won peace to be tossed away with the blood-shed, persecutions, tyranny and poverty that followed across Indo-China over the remainder of the century. 

^As with all ideologies, truces/armistices (eg hudna) are simply tactical ploys to stem losses being sustained, buy time, regroup, re-arm and go again when terms are back in the ideology’s favour.

*By the early 1970s, China was on its knees, economically, and precarious, politically, after five years of Mao’s tyrannical Cultural Revolution, which followed his disastrous Great Leap Forward plan). This was just prior to the West’s olive branch led by the US’s HenryDétenteKissinger (and pre-empted by Gough Whitlam as Australia’s then Labor opposition leader in mid-1971).

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