The prestigious Lowy Institute for International Policy is an independent, nonpartisan think-tank in Australia endowed by Frank Lowy to conduct original, policy-relevant research about international political, strategic and economic issues from an Australian perspective
In its recent annual report, it released a public opinion poll it conducted which shows that 84% of Australians do not believe the war in Iraq has reduced the threat of terrorism.
It seems the opinions of most Australians are in accord with the United States National Intelligence Estimates, just released last week, that found the US occupation of Iraq has increased terrorism and made Iraq into a breeding grounds for terrorists.
The poll also shows 91 per cent of those surveyed believe the war has damaged the US' reputation in the Muslim world. Good Lord, one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist or need a poll to know this.
It also finds the majority of Australians surveyed do not believe the war will lead to the spread of democracy in the Middle East. Nope, not when the hypocritical USA supports Arab dictators but persecutes democratically elected ones.
A total of 85 per cent of respondents believe the experience in Iraq should make nations more cautious about using military force to deal with rogue states.
The Federal Opposition has been quick to embrace the results of the Lowry poll, saying they reflect a commonsense view of the situation. Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, said the survey results did not surprise him:
"Because it's commonsense. It also backs up what security policy analysts have been saying for a long time. Prime Minister John Howard finds this very difficult to accept because it undermines the political line he's been putting to the Australian people for so long."
Labor has promised to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq if it wins the next federal election. But Mr Howard objected to that, claiming that if everyone pulls out before Iraq is ready to defend itself, the terrorists win and the jihadist movement will receive a massive boost.
But Rudd said there are other ways Australia can help the war-torn nation, such as assisting with border security.
He explained: "This is not soft assistance, this is hard assistance. The reason for that is that jihadists are flooding into Iraq through Iraq's highly porous borders with Saudi Arabia, with Iran, with Jordan and with Syria. We can do something to help plug those holes in the border by beefing up their border control and security systems."
The political reality of John Howard’s obdurate stand in a losing war situation has been (still is) his desire to be seen as the strongest and most staunch ally of the USA.
Under PM Howard’s government, Australia (already a strong ally of the USA for decades) has assumed an even stronger support (as if that was even possible), almost to the extent of being blind and obsequious to US foreign policy decisions. If the USA farts, John Howard’s government would immediately fart in loyal tandem.
On that point, Rudd has also backed the survey's finding that many Australians believed the US has too much influence on Australia's foreign policy.
He declared: "Mr Howard and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer as well have become followers, not leaders, when it comes to international affairs. When it came to Iraq in particular they simply followed the American lead rather than doing the responsible thing for Australia and the world.”
"A responsible ally of the United States would have asked them basic questions, such as what is the game plan once an invasion of Iraq occurs, what is the post-war plan?"
Rudd is of course absolutely correct. Needless to say, John Howard and his deputy Peter Costello put on brave faces and pooh-poohed away the polls finding. It’s hypocritical when John Howard is one politician who lives by the polls and the moods of majority expectations.
(1) US Intelligence: "Invasion of Iraq worsens world's terrorism"
(2) 100 insurgent attacks per day on Coalition forces in Iraq