This paper questions the traditional view of the Australian-American relationship: that Australian dependency entailed unequivocal support for American foreign policy. It uses a particular Cold War event — the Cuban Missile Crisis — to examine the extent to which the reaction of the Australian government conformed to the general perception of immediate and absolute endorsement of the Kennedy administration's position. The paper will argue that the actual response of the Menzies government, as distinct from its public pronouncements, was constrained rather than unconditional, considered rather than reflexive, and shaped by strategic calculations of Australian interests.