ANZUS, a military alliance linking Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, was a trilateral Pacific pact which came into force on 29 April 1952. What was the need for the establishment of such a trilateral alliance so soon after World War II? Was there any real compulsion for creating such an alliance? Did the US perceive any threats to its interests in that part of the world? Was there any existence of threat to the security of Australia and New Zealand? What then could be the factors which then led to the birth of ANZUS?


While the United States emerged as a dominant Super Power after World War II, Australia and New Zealand had lost the traditional source of their support and assistance for their security. Washington was concerned about the spread of Communism in various Parts of the world but it could not see any possibility of Australia and New Zealand coming under communist influence. However, Australia and New Zealand were more concerned about the possibility of a resurgent Japan than any kind of Communist threat to their societies.


London had all along provided security assurances to Australia and New Zealand. There was anxiety about the sort of arrangement that could guarantee Australian and New Zealand's security in an age of British incapability. After all, the World War II, had broken the Backbone of the British power and influence. London was not able to sustain its own empire, let alone provide security to Australia and New Zealand.


Australia's Threat Perceptions:  


In fact, with the entry of Japan in the war against the allies in early 1940s, Australia for the first time felt an actual threat to her security. The Australian Cruiser Sydney was sunk by Japan's ally German raider in November 1941, and a few days later, on 7 December, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese army landed at Kota Bharu in northern Malaya. Three days later, the Prince of Wales and the Repulse were sunk by Japanese planes off the east coast of Malaya. Guam and Wake Islands fell within a few days, followed by Hong Kong, Borneo, Manila, Rabaul and Ambon in quick succession. Singapore fell on 15 February 1942. Of the Australian troops who had fought for the defense of Malaya 15, 384 became prisoners of war, 1,789 died as a result of campaign, and 1,036 were wounded. Four days later, Darwin was bombed by aircraft carriers and from Ambon. Dutch Tirmor was next attacked with more Australian losses, followed by more air raids on Broome, Wyndham and Darwin. Japanese submarines played havoc with coastal shipping; Sydney and new castle were shelled, and three under water midget submarines entered Sydney harbor. Thus Australian experienced direct enemy attacks on her own soil.




The ANZUS alliance, born in the aftermath of World War II, reflected a deep-seated and very strong association that went well beyond security issues. It has been an effective alliance between states which respected each other's sovereignty and agreed to co-operate, without being coerced or cajoled, in matters of common defense. These unique qualities of ANZUS, its unity, sense of purpose and indeed its very viability, were all called into question by the crisis in the relations between New Zealand and the United States.


The crisis within ANZUS started in mid-eighties over the issue of naval visits. Two allies namely, the United States and New Zealand, who seemed to be fiends to be friends no longer, were engaged in the process of dissociating themselves from the established framework of cooperation. The alliance, once a by world for close partnership, became unmanageable, and recriminatory. Resentment and accusations had replaced co-operation, consensus and consultation. Confusing signals and divergent perspectives characterized the interactions between New Zealand and the United States.




The Commonwealth of Australia and the United States have a long history of relations. These two nations have a similar socio-political evolution which have enabled their respective people to have relatively better understanding of each other. Both of these nations have a similar history of Anglo-Saxon immigration into a vast untamed continent, where they had to fight an incessant battle for possession and control of land and resources with the native people.


The relationships between Australia and the United States have evolved since 1870 onwards. The course of Australian development has innumerable resemblances to the course of American history. Perhaps one of the most outstanding of these is the way their political system evolved in to federation. During the last twenty-five years of the nineteenth century, the colonies, which then numbered six, began to appreciate the benefits they would derive from concerted action. A movement was set on foot to form a federation of Australia in which each colony would become a state. The organization of this Commonwealth was patterned after that of the United States of America.




"It is universally recognized that the period since 1989-91 has seen an historical earthquake. The entire pattern of world politics has been altered by the collapse of communism; the disintegration of Soviet Union; the new or revived ethnic, economic and security problems of Eastern Europe, the unification of Germany, the uncertain future configuration of the European community, the economic troubles of Japan and their political consequences". The impact of the above situations have been reflected on many countries. The US-Australian bilateral relations also have started changing in a new direction. The Cold War strategies have been slowly fading away. The common enemy is dead.


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