The prevailing orthodoxy in the academic literature devoted to the history of Australia's post-1945 international relations posits that a mixture of suspicion and condescension permeated the attitude of the governments headed by Robert Menzies (1949–1966) toward the Asia-Pacific region. Menzies's regional policies, according to this view, not only prevented Australia from engaging meaningfully with its Asian neighbors but also ended up antagonizing them. This article rejects the conventional view and instead shows that the prevailing left-Labor assessments of Menzies's regional policy are fundamentally marred by an anachronistic disregard of the diplomatic dynamics, political challenges, and economic realities of Cold War Asia.
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© 2011 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology