Conference Program

85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History

 Landscapes of War and Peace

April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky

Title: Young Scholars Panel - Civil and Military Challenges in Leadership and Representation
Robin Hardy, Montana State University
Alisha Hamel, American Military University
Participant's Paper Title: Australian and American Relations and Leadership Difficulties in the Southwest Pacific Theater
Participant's Paper Abstract: My paper is a study of the Australian and American relations, politics and leadership difficulties at the beginning of World War II in the Southwest Pacific Theater. The paper focuses on leadership difficulties from the last battle where Americans fought under Australian command at the Battle of Salamaua, and examine Australian and American relations when the first two American infantry divisions arrive at Australia. The paper then looks at the larger picture of leadership from the top with a focus on General Douglas MacArthur, Prime Minister John Curtin and General Sir Thomas Blamey. It is by no means a complete history on Australian and American relations, politics and leadership difficulties, but rather a more specific look at Australian and American interactions that culminate at the Battle of Salamaua. Australians and Americans both fought in the Southwest Pacific Theater during World War II. Australians bore the brunt of offensive actions from 1942-1943 but would be marginalized as the Allied forces moved closer to defeating the Japanese forces. This paper explores the reasons that the Australians were used less in the offensive and relegated to secondary duties after the Battle of Salamaua and the Allied victory on the Huon Peninsula, resulting in the common misperception that the Americans had singlehandedly won the Pacific war. The Americans and Australians would fight together from November 1942 through September 1943 at Buna, Sananada and Salamaua in Papua New Guinea, but General Douglas MacArthur was intent on insuring that the United States would be credited with winning the war in the Pacific. This paper is based on a great number of primary sources from both the Australian and American archives with never before published American/Australian interactions.
Kip Dean, Chapman University
Participant's Paper Title: White House Overextension in 1971: A Period of Miscalculations and Miss Opportunities.
Participant's Paper Abstract: During the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, between 100,000 to three million perished in a selective genocide conducted by Pakistani forces while up to eight to ten million refugees fled to India. President Yahya Khan's actions on March 26th of that year, led to one the worst atrocities of the Cold War era. While this dark chapter of the Cold War occurred, the Nixon administration implemented its major foreign policy shift in South Asia, "The Tilt," and as a result, did nothing to help curtail the genocide, and never made any public statements regarding it. Understandably, 1971 was a demanding year for the White House as it sought to implement the Nixon Doctrine, SALT, a U.S.-Soviet détente, and expanded the war in Vietnam, while struggling to contain domestic opposition to the war and its expansion. However, rapprochement with China became the principal foreign policy objective. Although scholars continue to maintain that Chinese rapprochement directly led to inaction, this viewpoint oversimplifies the foreign policy complexities inherent at that time. Thus, this paper argues that even though rapprochement with China was a primary foreign policy objective for the Nixon administration, it does not fully explain why the White House remained so removed from the Bangladesh Liberation War. The inability of Nixon and Kissinger to grapple with these multiple crises simultaneously was an acknowledgment of the pair's limitations as policymakers while the consolidation of U.S. foreign policy within the White House inadvertently led to overextension when managing multiple crises at one time. Thus, this paper investigates the challenges the administration faced in 1971, and how they impacted its response to the events in East Pakistan.
Gordon Rudd, US Marine School of Advanced Warfighting

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