Monday 26 Feb 2018 | 01:03 | SYDNEY
Monday 26 Feb 2018 | 01:03 | SYDNEY

America's invisible ally



18 March 2008 09:00

A common experience of Australians traveling abroad, and especially in the US, is to find no reference whatsoever in the media to one’s homeland. In fact, one of the purposes of the Lowy Institute has always been to project an Australian voice internationally. When I started working on a feasibility study for the establishment of the Institute in 2002, Frank Lowy told me he was sick of opening the newspaper in New York or London and finding that the only references to Australia were contained in stories about ‘shark attacks and tennis players’.

A week ago I commiserated with John Howard over his non-appearance in the American press after his speech to the American Enterprise Institute. I just came upon another good example of our status as America’s invisible ally. A new colleague at Brookings, Dhruva Jaishankar, forwarded to me a poll published by Gallup a fortnight ago on Americans’ most- and least-favoured nations. The sample size (1007) is small for an American poll of this nature, but the findings are interesting nonetheless: Canada tops the pop with a favourability rating of 92%, followed by Great Britain with 89%, Germany at 82% and Japan at 80%; Americans’ least favourite country is Iran, with a rating of 8%.

How favourably did the respondents regard Australia? We’ll never know, because Gallup didn’t bother asking. The firm enquired about 22 countries in total, but it did not ask about the United States' most reliable ally, the only country to fight beside Americans in every major conflict of the 20th and 21st centuries – and a country that has just changed governments, with important consequences for the US-Australia alliance. Gallup does concede that the ‘only other country to approach 90% favorability over the years has been Australia’, but this year it decided not to include us in its list.

Photo by Flickr user newrambler, used under a Cretive Commons licence.

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