Gas Week

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Three-quarters of Australians saw Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan war as making the nation more of a target for terrorists

Posted by gasweek on 11 October, 2007

According to Sandra O’Malley and Adam Bennett, a comprehensive study of public attitudes to the nation’s closest ally conducted by the Sydney University-based United States Study Centre found a continuing decline in Australians’ opinion of America, based largely on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reported The Canberra Times (4/10/2007, p.8).

ANZUS still “important”: The survey showed that the pub­lic’s opinion of the US was almost on par with communist China. However, the study showed that in spite of four out of five people seeing the ANZUS alliance as important, 48 per cent wanted Australia to act more independently of the US.

New doubts about Afghanistan involvement: While the survey continued to show the unpopularity of the war in Iraq among Australians, it also showed that nearly 50 per cent of people felt the same way about the nation’s military commitment in Afghanistan. Three-quarters saw Australia’s involvement in the war as making the nation more of a target for terrorists.

Half perceive militant threats as exaggerated: More generally, nearly 50 per cent of people believed that the threat from al-Qaeda and Islamic extremists had been exaggerated. Forty per cent believed global warming was more of an inter­national problem than Islamic fun­damentalism, while 36 per cent saw them as equally pressing.

Costello invokes Bali: Treasurer Peter Costello acknowledged community concern about global warming, but said the Government also needed to keep the nation safe. “Let’s not forget that 88 of our fellow Australians were killed by terrorists in Bali,” he said. The centre’s acting chief execu­tive, Professor Alan Dupont, predicts both the Coalition and Labor could face difficulties at the election given the community suspicions about the terrorist threat.

Punters not happy: “That for me spells trouble for the Government and Labor – should they become the government – since a lot of national security thinking has been predicated on the belief that terrorism is the principal threat to Australia,” he said. The survey also found that most Australians felt the nation had been dudded in the free trade agreement with the US. Ten times as many people thought America would do better from the deal than Australia.

The Canberra Times, 4/10/2007, p. 8

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