Aligning Interests: Korea and the Evolution of the American-Australian Relationship, 1947-53

Author: Daniel Fazio

Fazio, Daniel, 2018 Aligning Interests: Korea and the Evolution of the American-Australian Relationship, 1947-53, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

Terms of Use: This electronic version is (or will be) made publicly available by Flinders University in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. You may use this material for uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material and/or you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact with the details.


This thesis examines the significance of the US-Australian Korean engagement, 1947-53, in the evolution of the relationship between the two nations in the formative years of the Cold War. It shows that in the aftermath of World War Two, divergent American and Australian strategic and security interests converged and then aligned on the Korean peninsula. This study argues the interactions between key US and Australian officials throughout their Korean engagement were crucial to shaping the nature of the evolving relationship and the making of the alliance between the two nations. This analysis especially emphasises the diplomacy of Percy Spender, Minister for External Affairs and Ambassador to the US; John Foster Dulles, diplomat and Special Representative of the President; and James Plimsoll, diplomat and member of the United Nations Commission for the Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea.

The thesis argues the American evaluation of the geo-strategic significance of Korea was a significant factor in the making of the ANZUS alliance and shows events in Korea remained central to the US-Australian relationship as it continued to evolve beyond the signing of the Treaty. Their Korean engagement showed the US and Australia had similar and overlapping, rather than identical interests, and that their relationship was much more nuanced and problematic than commonly perceived. This analysis of the US-Australian Korean engagement illuminates a crucial but hitherto overlooked phase in the history of the evolution of the relationship between the two nations. It challenges the Australian mythology on the origins of the ANZUS Treaty and presents a cautionary insight into the limits of Australia’s capacity to influence US policy to benefit its interests. This thesis therefore provides greater depth to understanding the broader historical context of the trajectory of the US-Australian relationship and alliance since the beginning of the Cold War.

Keywords: Korean War, American-Australian Relations, ANZUS

Subject: American Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Professor Don DeBats