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Additional resources for Australia and the Middle East: A Front-line Relationship (Library of International Relations)
15 In June 1950 Australia's top defence planning body, the Council of Defence met with Britain's Chief of Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Sir William Slim, to consider the gravity of the Cold War crisis and its implications for Australians. Slim told the Australians that Europe and the Middle East were the most crucial theatres to hold in the event of a war with the Soviet Union. More specifically, he wanted the Australians to agree to send an expeditionary force to help defend British airbases in the Middle East.
19 By contrast the Chinese had a much greater reputation as versatile settlers and for that reason appeared to pose a greater threat to the European community. They were thought capable of working in almost any conditions from the hottest and most tropical regions to the coldest. They were to be found in rural Australia and in the towns and cities. They were skilled miners, agriculturalists, storekeepers and traders and even their harshest critics acknowledged that the Chinese were a capable and enduring race.
The spectacular initial successes of the Japanese from December 1941 to February 1942 confirmed the dangers of depending on the speedy dispatch of the Royal Navy towards Australia in a war fought on several fronts. Should Australian troops have been kept in Australia, in anticipation of looming conflict with Japan? In tackling this question historians have often divided along the lines of more nationalist-minded arguments versus those interpretations stressing the bigger picture of the global struggle, in which Australia was inevitably caught up.