The Lowy Institute poll

For some reason, I've been focusing more on polls recently than I have at any time since the US election, but for once, here's one that not only has scientific value, but also could quite possibly be accurate.
Only 58 per cent of Australians have "positive feelings" towards the world's superpower, with more than two-thirds complaining that the US holds too much sway over Australian foreign policy.

According to the first annual Lowy Institute poll, released yesterday, Australians rated the US above only our northern neighbour Indonesia and the so-called axis of evil member Iran and its war-torn neighbour Iraq.

Despite the findings, the majority of Australians regard the US alliance as important. Sixty-one per cent said they regarded our alliance with the US as "very important" to Australia's security.

The national poll - conducted last month - found almost 70 per cent think that Canberra is too heavily influenced by US foreign policy.
The phrasing is a little misleading, since very few nations were actually included in the poll, the results of which you can find here [500kb PDF file, 32 pages, or raw data file here]. The basic results are as follows:

"When you think about the following countries, groups or regions of the world, do you have positive or negative feelings about them?"
New Zealand - 94%
United Kingdom - 86%
Japan - 84%
Singapore - 83%
China - 69%
France - 66%
Malaysia - 62%
Papua New Guinea - 60%
United States - 58%
Indonesia - 52%
Iran - 24%
Iraq - 23%
These figures, with the exception of the higher-than-expected rating for China, aren't exactly surprising. New Zealand have taken many of the popular decisions among Australians in international affairs over the past 100 years - most notably fighting alongside our troops as the ANZACS. When you add that they didn't join Bush's Coalition Of The Willing, and they're our nearest Western neigbour, of course they should be on top. Regarding China though, considering their abysmal human rights record I'm surprised their rating was so high. This is pre-their anti-independence legislation against Taiwan, but considering how three people dying in Iraq would be much more prominent news, I'm not sure it would make too much of a difference. But let's move on to the United States.

For the question "How worried are you about the following potential threats from the outside world?", United States foreign policy had 32% of Australians "very worried" and 25% "fairly worried". The more worrying threats were Islamic fundamentalism, international disease epidemics, international terrorism, global warming and unfriendly nations developing nuclear weapons. Some points to be made here:

- The very similar rating given to Islamic fundamentalism and international terrorism shows just how closely the two are aligned in public view.
- Considering the major action that has most people would be the Iraq war, and Australia has not yet suffered a single consequence of that war, it appears so far that these fears are unfounded.

But above all, the one thing I found interesting was just how similar Bush's goals are with Australia's - even though Bush hasn't got a great deal of support among the Australian public. Out of the top 7 important foreign policy goals for the Australian public, five of them could easily be said to be Bush goals (strengthening the Australian economy, combating terrorism, helping to prevent nuclear proliferation, promoting human rights abroad and improving standards of living in poor countries), while a further one - protecting the jobs of Australian workers - doesn't apply here. And while the second most important issue is improving the global environment, even though Bush hasn't signed Kyoto, he aims to meet reduced targets and Kyoto is junk anyway; it will only save 0.07 degrees Celsius over 45 years at a cost of AU$9,000,000,000,000 with complete implementation, which means basically we won't be able to tell the difference. Even Bush's policy of promoting democracy is important according to 65% of respondents.

With these numbers of support for Bush's policies, it's hard to see why he doesn't enjoy huge support in Australia. Could it be that the Australian people aren't really educated on Bush's policies? One of the more anti-Bush people I know can only name three Bush policies - "tax cuts for the rich", war on Iraq, Patriot Act. Some others add "huge budget deficits", but as we all (should) know Congress controls the budget, and controls spending. So whether America has budget deficits or not really isn't up to Bush. But it's a common theme - the severe lack of education on Bush's policies is the reason why people dislike him so much.

If they actually bothered to learn what he stood for and what's he done/doing, then Bush's foreign support would be higher than his domestic support, because the Lowy Institute poll shows he stands for the same things as the majority of Australians.

(Cross-posted to The House Of Wheels.)

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