Lowy Poll : Some Surprises
That 55 percent of Australians support US bases on Australian soil is probably the most arresting feature of this year’s Lowy Poll titled Australia and the World : Public Opinion and Foreign Policy. This finding, in my view, suggests underlying anxiety about, one, the rise of China, two, the prospect of Islamist activity in Asia.
Speaking today on the panel at the Lowy Institute in Sydney I said polls should not be taken literally. “They are a snapshot of opinion at a particular moment. But they can be valuable when they do what the Lowy Institute is doing here – tracking changes in public opinion over some years and second, testing arguments on citizens, for example arguments about the case for Australia being in Afghanistan.”
Here’s another interesting one. The public doesn’t want us there. The Institute found:
As the war in Afghanistan approaches its 10th anniversary, opposition among Australians to the war has been gradually increasing. This year a majority (59%) of Australians say Australia should not ‘continue to be involved militarily in Afghanistan’…
The public seem pretty astute. As the dust settles it seems the Western response to September 11 was fundamentally wrong: that is, the launch of two wars, costing a trillion dollars and thousands of lives and causing refugee flows, in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a dumb response to a single terrorist strike. Interesting that the public gets it.