Australia, communism and Southeast Asia after Dien Bien Phu
In the wake of the Viet Minh victory over France in 1954, concern at communism’s growing influence in Asia was widespread as people sought both explanation and remedy. Carlos P. Romulo, who wrote this article for the RSL’s monthly magazine, Reveille, that year was a man of considerable experience and influence. He spent time in Australia during the Second World War as General MacArthur’s aide-de-camp but his career encompassed a great deal more. Romulo had, among other things, been a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, editor, academic and, during the Second World War, he had attained the rank of general in the United States Army. After the war he became Head of the Philippines Delegation to the United Nations before becoming President of the United Nations General Assembly.
Despite being a great admirer of the United States, colonial masters of the Philippines for many decades, Romulo was, nevertheless, a staunch advocate for the freedom of subject peoples. In this article he suggested that only when their own freedom from colonialism was assured would the people of Southeast Asia assist the west in its fight against communism. With hindsight we see that Romulo’s suggestion that the United States was unlikely to commit to an all-out intervention in Vietnam was erroneous, but the article indicates how an experienced, senior diplomat viewed the threat of communism in Asia after the French defeat in Vietnam.