Engaging Southeast Asia? Labor’s Regional Mythology and Australia’s Military Withdrawal from Singapore and Malaysia, 1972–1973

The decision in 1973 to withdraw Australian forces from Malaysia and Singapore constitutes a neglected but defining episode in the evolution of Australian postwar diplomacy against the backdrop of the Cold War.

A detailed examination of this episode sheds interesting light on Australian foreign policy from 1972 to 1975, the years when Gough Whitlam of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) served as prime minister. The Whitlam government’s policy in Southeast Asia was not as much of a watershed as the secondary literature suggests.

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