Tuesday, December 20, 2005

When Australians Don't Like Us, We've Got Problems

Here's the Yellow Dog Blog's foreign-policy litmus test for America: Are Australians pissed at us? If so, it may be time for some introspective thinking on what the hell we're doing.

When one thinks of Australia, one thinks of a nation of fun-loving, informed, decent people – always on the bleeding edge of the Internet and technology – and a country with whom, for the most part, we have enjoyed a long relationship of friendship and trust.

Because of an article today in the Sydney Morning Herald that mentions our humble blog, I have a unique opportunity to ask a question of our Australian friends – that query comes at the end of this piece.

One of my best friends, John, is married to Sonya, a lovely Aussie lass and, while they live in Virginia, they make frequent business and personal trips Down Under. John has told me a number of times that, while still receiving a mostly hospitable welcome, the anti-American sentiment in Australia is more pronounced than he has ever seen it.

Said Peter Costello, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, in a speech in August: "It is common in this country, like so many others, to come across anti-American sentiment. It is always there but it rises at times of Australia’s military engagement in coalition with the United States. Most recently Australia’s engagement in Iraq has raised these sentiments."

Wow. There's a shocker. A country whose people think we did the wrong thing in Iraq. Don't you just hate it when these allies think for themselves?

In a poll of almost 22,000 people in 21 countries, conducted between November 2004 and January 2005 by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, 61 percent of Australians viewed President Bush's re-election as negative for world peace and security.

Sadly, with a White House more concerned with the daily exercise of covering its butt for the wrong-doing du jour, we should not look for an ounce of the self-reflection required to ask why such a steadfast friend seems a bit disenchanted with our relationship.

But, hey, that's just me giving an opinion. I'm hoping to use this unique burst of Australian readership to get some real comments from our friends Down Under on how they feel about America right now and why. If you still feel the love for the U.S.A., tell me that too.

Please write me at yellowdogblog@gmail.com . Your e-mail address will not be published and I will only use your name with permission.