Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Australia, New Zealand, and the United States signed a security treaty called the ANZUS pact to ally against possible Chinese or Soviet aggression in the Pacific region. The pact demonstrated a commitment to contain communism by coordinating the military forces of the three countries. Although the United States considered New Zealand to have gone on leave from the arrangement in 1984, the framework continued. With the end of the Cold War in 1989, new forms of cooperation have emerged among the three nations.

Summary of Event

Immediately after World War II, Australia pressed for a regional security arrangement, but the United States was hesitant. Soon, however, several events gave greater urgency to the idea. In 1949, communists won the civil war in China. February, 1950, saw the signing of the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance, and in June, North Korea’s army entered South Korea. Australia and New Zealand were the first countries to join the United States in sending troops to defend South Korea within the U.N. Command in Korea. [kw]Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment (Sept. 1, 1951) [kw]Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment, Security (Sept. 1, 1951) [kw]Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment, Security Pact Is Signed by Three (Sept. 1, 1951) [kw]Communist Encroachment, Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against (Sept. 1, 1951) ANZUS pact Cold War;mutual defense agreements ANZUS pact Cold War;mutual defense agreements [g]Pacific;Sept. 1, 1951: Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment[03550] [g]Polynesia;Sept. 1, 1951: Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment[03550] [g]North America;Sept. 1, 1951: Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment[03550] [g]United States;Sept. 1, 1951: Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment[03550] [g]Australia;Sept. 1, 1951: Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment[03550] [g]New Zealand;Sept. 1, 1951: Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment[03550] [c]Diplomacy and international relations;Sept. 1, 1951: Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment[03550] [c]Cold War;Sept. 1, 1951: Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment[03550] [c]Organizations and institutions;Sept. 1, 1951: Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment[03550] [c]Military history;Sept. 1, 1951: Security Pact Is Signed by Three Pacific Nations Against Communist Encroachment[03550] Acheson, Dean Dulles, John Foster [p]Dulles, John Foster;Cold War pacts Spender, Percy Doidge, Frederick Widdowson

In 1949, U.S. secretary of state Dean Acheson appointed John Foster Dulles as U.S. foreign policy adviser to handle several specific tasks. Dulles felt that a power vacuum existed because demilitarized Japan was still under Allied occupation, so communist countries were moving to fill the void. Accordingly, Dulles considered a peace treaty with Japan to be a top priority. Australia and New Zealand, opposed to the possibility of Japanese rearmament, said that they would be interested in signing a Japanese peace treaty only if they were included in a formal defensive arrangement involving the United States. Dulles then went to Canberra, Australia, in February, 1951, to meet Australian minister for external affairs Percy Spender and New Zealand minister for foreign affairs Frederick Widdowson Doidge to discuss proposals for a defensive arrangement among the three countries. Promising military aid to both countries, Dulles then prepared a draft trilateral treaty, which was signed during the first day of the Japanese peace conference in San Francisco, California, on September 1, 1951.

The treaty came into force on April 29, 1952, one day after the Treaty of Peace with Japan went into effect. The aim was to send a signal to Beijing and Moscow that all three Western-oriented countries were determined to stop any new aggressive moves in the Pacific. To avoid the impression that the treaty dealt with the entire Pacific area, the acronym ANZUS—Australia, New Zealand, United States—was accepted in August at the inaugural meeting of the council, the principal organ set up by the treaty.

Articles 4 and 5 state that armed attacks “on the metropolitan territory of any of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific” should be reported immediately to the United Nations Security Council. Until the Security Council acts, ANZUS countries are authorized to coordinate their own actions to meet aggression, but there is no guarantee that the countries will come to each other’s aid in response to such attacks.

ANZUS was not negotiated in a vacuum, as all three countries were involved in other military arrangements in the late 1940’s and the 1950’s. The UKUSA Agreement, which also involved Canada and the United Kingdom and later New Zealand, was formed for the purposes of military intelligence cooperation. The armies of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia also formed an agreement known as ABCA; New Zealand joined later. Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom formed the ANZAM Defense Committee, which evolved into the Anglo-Malayan Defense Agreement with the addition of Malaya in 1963. All three ANZUS countries also became members of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), which had similar goals from 1955 to 1976. Possible overlapping arenas provided some flexibility to all member countries to operate on some tasks in one organization that might have difficulties in another.

In 1962, the ANZUS treaty area was clarified to include the three original countries as well as the many Pacific island territories then under the jurisdiction of the ANZUS powers. In the early twenty-first century only the Tokelau Islands, still a part of New Zealand, would appear to be covered as an island territory.

Significance

ANZUS had little effect in accomplishing its original aim, which presumably became a nonissue with the end of the Cold War. However, practically, ANZUS provided a framework for regular civilian and military consultation among nations. The treaty council was designed for civilian consultation among foreign ministers, resulting in annual declarations of unified foreign policy goals. Military cooperation, which began in 1952 with a meeting at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, consisted primarily of intelligence briefings and consultations through the office of the U.S. commander in chief of Pacific forces. The United States has provided military training to officers from Australia and New Zealand. The countries also have engaged in joint naval exercises, standardized equipment, and harmonized their operational doctrines. Allies of the United States also can purchase the latest military technology and often rely on U.S. military logistics.

Australia later agreed to establish facilities for signals intelligence and to test long-range missiles. Signals intelligence, derived from communications satellites, provides an important source of information about military as well as terrorist activities. Australia and the United States have continued to cooperate within the framework of the treaty, holding meetings, since 1985, known as Australia-United States Ministerial Talks (AUSMINS); the relationship was further confirmed by the talks of 1986, which issued the so-called Sydney Statement. Australia and New Zealand, however, continued to maintain their ANZUS relationship despite Washington’s reclassification of New Zealand as “a friend, but not an ally.” ANZUS pact Cold War;mutual defense agreements

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Bercovitch, Jacob, ed. ANZUS in Crisis: Alliance Management in International Affairs. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988. Explains how New Zealand’s refusal to allow nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed naval ships from the United States to dock in its country fractured ANZUS relations between the two nations.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Buckley, Roger. The United States in the Asia-Pacific Since 1945. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. An overview of American relations with East Asia since the end of World War II that puts the creation of SEATO into context and examines such themes as Asian concerns about colonialism and the American fear of communism.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Holdich, Roger, et al., eds. The ANZUS Treaty, 1951. Canberra, A.C.T.: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2001. A thorough analysis of the treaty’s provisions and how they have applied to military contingencies in the Cold War and beyond.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">McIntire, W. David. Background to the ANZUS Pact: Policy-Making, Strategy, and Diplomacy, 1945-1955. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1995. An analysis of the early years of ANZUS.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Tow, William, and Henry Albinski. “ANZUS: Alive and Well After Fifty Years.” Australian Journal of Politics and History 48 (June, 2002): 153-173. Argues for the continued import of ANZUS, basing its vitality on its mutual cultural and political complementarity.

Treaty of Peace with Japan Is Signed in San Francisco

SEATO Is Founded

Antarctic Treaty Goes into Force

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