Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The ANZUS Treaty during the Cold War: a reinterpretation of U.S. diplomacy in the Southwest Pacific

Robb, Thomas K.; Gill, David James


Thomas K. Robb

Professor of International Relations


This article explains the origins of the Australia–New Zealand–United States (ANZUS) Treaty by highlighting U.S. ambitions in the Pacific region after World War II. Three clarifications to the historiography merit attention. First, an alliance with Australia and New Zealand reflected the pursuit of U.S. interests rather than the skill of antipodean diplomacy. Despite initial reservations in Washington, geostrategic anxiety and economic ambition ultimately spurred cooperation. The U.S. government's eventual recourse to coercive diplomacy against the other ANZUS members, and the exclusion of Britain from the alliance, substantiate claims of self-interest. Second, the historiography neglects the economic rationale underlying the U.S. commitment to Pacific security. Regional cooperation ensured the revival of Japan, the avoidance of discriminatory trade policies, and the stability of the Bretton Woods monetary system. Third, scholars have unduly played down and misunderstood the concept of race. U.S. foreign policy elites invoked ideas about a “White Man's Club” in Asia to obscure the pursuit of U.S. interests in the region and to ensure British exclusion from the treaty.


Robb, T. K., & Gill, D. J. (2015). The ANZUS Treaty during the Cold War: a reinterpretation of U.S. diplomacy in the Southwest Pacific. Journal of Cold War Studies, 17(4),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 1, 2015
Online Publication Date Jan 6, 2016
Publication Date Nov 24, 2015
Deposit Date Sep 25, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 24, 2015
Journal Journal of Cold War Studies
Print ISSN 1520-3972
Electronic ISSN 1531-3298
Publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 4
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a manuscript version of the article accepted for publication in Journal of Cold War Studies.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations