The centuries old proverb, vox populi vox Dei (The voice of the people is the voice of God), describes a simple principle that has led to revolutions against authoritarian regimes and become a foundational principle in liberal democracy. Namely, the principle that ‘public opinion’ MATTERS. However, this conventional, age old wisdom is not always expressed in clear, black and white ways. Usually, the ‘vox populi’ is not issued as a clear and coherent concert of voices harmonized in melodic agreement. Rather, this “voice of the people” is often manifested as a cacophony of diverse interests calling for diverse policies and responses. This is especially true when we examine the arena of international politics. Within the international sphere, the United States, as the current global hegemon, must then balance not only the public opinions of the domestic constituency, but also account for the effects of the vox populi abroad. What opinions do populations abroad hold of the USA? Why do they hold these opinions? Most importantly, if and/or how does the public opinion of the populations of other states towards the US affect the policies of their governments?

These questions are broad, complicated and difficult to answer, especially in light of the various relationships the USA holds with different countries. However, a narrower discussion of one state, such as Australia (governed from 1996-2007 by John Howard and his Liberal-National Party coalition ), may yield useful results. What are opinions of the United States as a society, and opinions of US policies in relationship to Australia? What drives the formations of these opinions? What is the relationship between public opinion and policy formation/implementation within an Australian context? How should the US respond to this relationship? This essay seek answers these questions In order to adequately discern the relationship between public opinion and US-Australia policy relations, it is important to explore several related issues. Firstly, what issue areas is the contemporary Australian populous at large concerned with generally? This information is important for the following reasons: If there is no strong popular concern surrounding an issue, then no strong argument can be made that popular opinion about that issue actually affects policy formation concerning that issue because there will be little to nothing known about what opinion surrounding said issue actually is. Our ultimate concern is the relationship between public opinion and the formation of policy directly related to the U.S.-Australia relationship. It is therefore important to determine what issues are seen as important to the Australian populous AND relate to foreign policy. Some important issues may not relate to foreign policy, and the Australian populous may be indifferent to some foreign policy issues. Only after determining these issues of concern (issues that which fall under both categories) can the discussion of opinions the Australian populous holds of the US and US policy can proceed effectively. Secondly, Australian opinions of what the US is (as opposed to what the US does – ie culture vs policy) must also be explored. It is possible that deeply rooted positive/negative opinions of American culture and society overshadow to some extent particular policy choices. Therefore it is important to explore this as well. Finally, context matters. It is also important to account for the fact that neither Australian policy nor public opinions exist within a vacuum and the unique context of both Australia’s geo-strategic position, history, and unique relationship with the United states must also be explored to set the proper context for reasonably interpreting both Public opinion, policy, and the relationship between the two.


1-1 General Opinions about Australia and Australian Politics

As a western, liberal capitalist society, Australia has a well developed and robust polling culture. Data is readily available across several issues areas. As might be expected, polls show that issues with evident domestic implications concern Australians most. When asked by NewsPoll in 2005 which issues will affect their vote in the next federal election, ‘Healthcare’, ‘Education’, and ‘the Economy’ are consistently considered the most salient electoral issues. Of these issues, the first two are purely domestic and the last one is felt very strongly in a domestic way. However recent polls have shown that ‘Social Welfare’, ‘National Security’ and the ‘Environment’ have also been identified as important considerations when voting in federal elections. Of these slightly less important issues, Security and Environment have a decidedly foreign policy focus. When polled in 2005 by the Lowy institute for international relations, Australians listed their primary foreign policy concerns. These concerns align perfectly with the non-purely-domestic issues raised when describing electoral factors. The alignment is as follows: Economy-strengthening the Australian economy/protecting Australian jobs; Environment -improving the global environment; National Security -combating terrorism/preventing nuclear proliferation. Conclusion #1

Thus when exploring the Australia –US relationship, this essay will focus on issues with that relationship that are keyed to Economics, Security, and Environmental issues as these seem to be the most salient topics of interest of the Australian populous while also relating to foreign policy.

1-2 General Australian Opinions of the American culture an Americans.

As of June 2003, the general feeling towards America is positive with 63% of people folding a favorable view of the US. By Feb 2005 this number had dropped slightly to 58% , but is still a strong majority. A point of note is that opinions of the current administration (represented by George W. Bush) received only 45% positive rating in 2003 which most likely indicates a disconnection between the USA as an entity and the policies pursued by the current administration. In the 2003 Roy-Morgan polling data, ‘Americans’ are seen by a strong majority of Australians as being Free, United and friendly. Americans are also seen by a majority as being arrogant and religious, both of which are cultural negatives in Australia. However the general picture seems quite positive overall. In terms of American culture, more Australians like than dislike American movies, television, pop music, clothing, drinks, and internet websites. American food received lower marks with fewer Australians liking American food than disliking it. Majorities of Australians view America as a “beacon of hope and opportunity” and as a general “force for good” in the world. A majority also believes that American military presence in the south pacific helps to bring peace and stability to the region. As of June 2003, Most Australians disagree with the statement “America scares me”. Even though Australians seems to take these fairly positive views of Americans, America and American products, more than 9 in 10 Aussies prefer their country to America and many believe that Australia is “more cultured.”

Conclusion #2 There is no apparent Anti-Americanism or unabashed Pro-Americanism directed towards America or Americans skews opinions. America is generally seen in a favorable light, thought not one that is overly favorable and Australians still love Australia more than America. Therefore, to answer the question of the relationship between public opinion about the US and policy formation, it is no necessary to factor in any general good-will or anti-Americanism. This essay will continue with the examination poll data concerning American policies in the 3 main issues areas: Security, Economics, and the Environment and use conclusions drawn from these discussions as the basis for answering the question of the relationship between Opinion and Policy.

SECTION 2 - OPINIONS AT THE CROSSROADS: Issues that satisfy requirements of being both identified as important by public opinion and actively important to USA-Australia relations.

The following section will explore available polling data as it relates to the issues of Security, Economy, and Environment. Within the context of these three issue areas, what do Australians really care about? The raw data will be analyzed in the hope that nature of Australian public opinion will be clarified in as comprehensive a way as possible. Once the nature Public opinion has been discerned, this information will be used to discuss the relationship between public opinion and Australian policy formation. This discussion will provide the final foundation for the policy recommendation for the United states concerning Australia and Australian foreign policy.


Since September 11 2001, International Security issues have been focused primarily by the American hegemon on combating ‘terrorism’ and dealing with ‘rouge states’. In 2003, 61% of Australian indicated agreement with “America’s policy on Terrorism”. Support for e war on terror as a general principle is not surprising. This is most likely due to Australia’s own experience with international terrorism. Australia actually lost 10 citizens to the terrorist highjackers on September 11th . Furthermore, terrorists linked to the same Al–Qaida network killed 202 people at a nightclub bombing in Bali Indonesia in October 2002, 88 of them Australian . This attack was viewed by many as Australia’s own September 11th and helped to put the global “war on terror” on the agenda of the Australian psyche as well as policy makers.

Since 2001, Australia’s security relationship has existed primarily within the context of this American led ‘war on terror’ and Australia has bee involved in two separate foreign interventions at the behest of the US: Afghanistan(2001) and Iraq(2003). However, in order to develop a truly accurate picture of the relationship between Australian public opinion and foreign intervention (the primary focus of the Australia US security relationship over recent years), it is important to examine opinion across ALL recent Australian foreign interventions and not focus solely on the interventions initiated by US policy. Has the Australian government held public support consistently as it has decided to engage in foreign interventions? Are there discrepancies between the levels of public support for different interventions? Has the Australian populous been consistently opposed to foreign intervention? In answering these questions, it will be possible to determine if Public opinion (especially concerning US initiated policy) does in fact affect policy decisions made by the Australian government.

2-1a East Timor

The first foreign intervention that must be examined is the 1999 intervention in East Timor (which notably occurred before September 11th 2001, and as such provides important historical policy information) Polling data is unavailable concerning the Howard government’s policy decision to pressure Indonesia into allowing the East Timor referendum and it is thus it is hard to know if public opinion was the primary impetus for the decision to move forward. However, when polled concerning the involvement of Australian troops in the days leading up to UN deployment, the vast majority of Australians declared favor for sending Australian troops as part of an international peace-keeping force to East Timor following the referendum. Again, it is not possible to discern if public opinion was the impetus for the Howard Governments policy choice, but it is clear that public opinion was not at all against the intervention in East Timor. This public support correlates with other survey results that show Australians to be highly in favor of both participating in “UN or regionally endorsed peace keeping mission” as well as promoting “human right abroad.”

2-1b Afghanistan

The War with Afghanistan immediately following September 11th is the first situation we can observe which falls under security and involves the United States directly. When polled concerning the potential for forceful American retaliation against the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks, public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of the US making such retaliation and equally in favor of Australian military forces being involved in said military operations. Within a few short weeks, Afghanistan was labeled the target of this retaliation and 1550 Australian troops were committed to the operation. When surveyed in the days leading up to the Australian troop deployment, 66% of respondents approved the USA of Australian forces in Afghanistan. When polled again after troop deployment had occurred in November of 2001, support was shown to have increased to 71%. Unlike East Timor, the basis for this action was not a UN Mandate but rather the United States’ right of self-defense in response to the Sept 11 attacks. Moreover, Australia viewed itself as honoring a treaty obligation by invoking the ANZUS treaty. It is difficult to discern if there is a causal relationship between public opinion (which again favored intervention) and the pursued policy. It seems that in this situation, the government decided a course of action well before public opinion could be polled, and opinion happened to align itself with policy. If Australian public opinion had been overwhelmingly against supporting the US in Afghanistan, it is hard to say whether Australia would have still followed through on it’s treaty obligation, but I would argue that in this case, due to the primacy given to the Australia-American Alliance , that the policy would have been employed regardless of public opinion.

2-1c Iraq

The second situation which deals with both security and the United States directly is the 2003 Iraq war. Australia has never been a friend of Saddam Hussein. Historically, Australians, as well as their government supported both the American led Gulf war of 1991 and the American desert Fox operation of 1998. When polled concerning the 2003 statement ‘Do you support Australia’s involvement in a war in Iraq” firstly with UN authorization, and then without authorization, a staggering difference became apparent. A vast majority of Australians strong supported an Iraqi military engagement under UN auspices. A minority were in support of engaging without UN sanction. The same polling organization held another poll 2 days later asking only if respondents supported Australian military involvement in Iraq without any UN involvement. The positive response to this poll was 45% , almost twice as high as the positive response given when the question specifically highlighted that UN be uninvolved. This correlates with the high value Australians place on supporting UN or regionally mandated military missions Furthermore, the 83% approval under UN auspices is enough to show that even in the face of anti-war demonstrations, there was still a strong sentiment in favor of going to war (albeit under a multilateral flag). Therefore, I will argue that Australians didn’t oppose the war in Iraq pre se, but rather the seemingly illegitimate nature of American led actions. They didn’t oppose the US policy of war with Iraq, but rather the way implemented. The Australian populous places high value multi-national backing and legitimizing force of the UN. This argument is demonstrated further in the fact that 60% of Australians believed the UN should have supported the invasion and was wrong not to. On the eve of war, popular support increased to a minimal majority of the population and in the weeks immediately following grew into a substantial majority. I believe this is because the support Australians felt for the military action began to be expressed once the populous came to terms with the fact that the UN was not going to involved.

A year after the primary Iraq war, when polled in April of 2004 and asked “Should Australia have a military presence in Iraq”, the population was evenly split with 50% in favor and 46% opposed. However when the question was rephrased and prefaced with the statement “If the new Iraqi government should request us to stay in Iraq…” support rose to 63%, and when the question was prefaced “If the UN should send peace keepers and ask us to stay in Iraq…” support reached a resounding 84% approval for keeping Australian forces in Iraq. When the survey question was prefaced “If the US should decide to continue occupying Iraq and ask us to stay….” Support plummeted to 30%. Also of note is the fact regardless of the form of the question, in all of the cases members of John Howard’s Labor National coalition party (L-NP) were always strongly more in favor of keeping troops in Iraq relative to the Australian Labor Party(ALP) members. This plummeting support in the context of the US making the request vs. the UN making it aligns with another public opinion taken in 2005 which clear shows that Australians think “too much notice” is paid to the US and “not enough notice” is paid to the UN. All of this evidence demonstrates clearly that the Australian populous attributes great legitimacy to the UN or other regional multinational bodies.

2-1d Solomon Islands

The Solomon island intervention is the final case that we will examine. When surveyed concerning support of sending troops to restore law and order, the Australian public overwhelmingly supported the intervention. This support aligns with the Australian support of multilateral interventions, and interventions that occur at the behest of the country in which the intervention is occurring and thus is not anomalous in anyway. This intervention did not bring the US and Australia directly in contact but it did demonstrate Australia’s ability to act as a regional metropole and its commitment to interventions legitimized in a multi-lateral manner (in this case mutli-lateral even includes the country being intervened upon) The popular support this intervention reiterates all of the multilateral principles and the support of legitimate interventionism of Australians discussed above.


Economic policy is another area in which Australia is directly engaged with the United States, and the populous has voiced a clear opinion. In 2004, Australia signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States which went into effect January of 2005 . However, just as all recent interventions and opinions of those had to all be compared in order to determine the what opinions the population and held and the significance of those opinions, so much a similar comparison be made concerning free trade. Australians hold a generally favorable opinion of FTA’s. 88% of Australians believe that the government should actively pursue international agreements that open up foreign markets to Australian exports in exchange for the Australian market being opened to the foreign products. The United States is not the only nation Australia has signed an FTA with, nor has Australia ceased to purse FTAs with other foreign powers. FTAs are already in effect and/or are being pursued with Japan, China, UAE, ASEAN/ New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. A majority of the Australian public views an Australia-China as positive. Therefore in can be concluded that Australians favor FTAs as a general principle.

When the Australia America FTA (AUSFTA) is examined, popular opinion doesn’t show the same type of blanket support that free trade agreements receive generally. During the time of negotiations from mid 2002 through the end of 2003, popular support for the proposed AUSFTA remained consistently near or above 50% while opposition remained consistently near or below 25%. In July of 2004, support dropped to 45% and opposition increased to 29%. 11 of the 29% who stated their opposition claimed to oppose because they felt that the FTA was specifically a bad deal/ “rip off” for Australia. Furthermore, this confirmed the findings of a February 2004 poll in which 47% of respondents expressed their lack of confidence that the Australian government had negotiated a good deal on their behalf. Only 32% expressed confidence that the deal was good. Clearly there is a trend that Australians opposed the American FTA specifically because they perceive it as a bad trade deal, and not because it is an FTA nor because it is specifically with America. 77% of the population indicated awareness of the AUSFTA negotiations in June of 2004 and it stands to reason that as they maintained their knowledge of it, they were able to develop a perception about its qualities. In this case, the populations doesn’t perceive that it lives up fairly to the ideal that 88% of the populations expressed support for as described previously and this spawns opposition. By 2005 when the FTA finally entered effect, only 34% of Australians viewed it as good for their country with a near equal percentage (32%) viewing it as bad. This bolsters the argument that the populous views the terms of the FTA as unfair.


Environmental policy is must by its very nature be internationally focused as pollution and global warming and holes in the ozone layer recognize no political boundaries. In the year 2000, Australians typically considered themselves to be “green” at heart. 61% of them thought that environmental concerns were NOT exaggerated In 2005, “improving the global environment” polled as the 2nd most important foreign policy goal (tied with ‘protecting Australian jobs’). However, interestingly enough, when polled concerning which issues were most important in their voting during federal election of 2004(both in the months leading up to the election and in the week directly after the election), the environment came in behind the other foreign policy issues including security and the economy. Therefore, even though Australians poll states that the improving the environment “should” be an important policy goal, in practice, the Australian populous neither demonstrates nor indicated that the environment is an important factor in how electoral politics play out and as such I would conclude that the environmental concerns are more good moral ideas that people feel they must get behind but there is no clear consensus that the populous is pushing the government in any clear policy direction. Interestingly enough, Australian policy is aligned with the United States in abstaining from the Kyoto Protocol. Yet none of the polling organizations cited in this paper have any polls mentioning Australians attitudes towards Kyoto, even though polling data exists in abundance for he other salient issue areas. This, combined with the lack of voter focus leads to the conclusion that public opinion in this area is not especially strongly held.

It must be noted that in 2003, 21% agreed with “American policy on Global warming) while 46% disagreed. However, the meaning of this data is ambiguous. A full third of respondents reported that they were ignorant of what “American policy on Global warming” was and the vagueness of the question makes it difficult to discern what respondents were in fact expressing in their answer to the query. Contributing to this state of affairs is the fact that the Australian government does, according to the DFAT, prioritize environmental concerns having joined many environmentally focused treaties, many of which the USA is also a participant. This aspect of foreign policy just doesn't appear to be important when looked at through the lens of Australia-US relations. It is strongly eclipsed by both security concerns and economic concerns

Public Opinion Summary: Australian opinion of America and Americans is generally favorable. Opinion of policies is generally less favorable. The Australian public views several issues areas as important, but of these, only security, economics and environmental policies are important to foreign policy. The United States relates to Australia in all of these categories in different ways. Security concerns have focused on the war on terror and international interventions. Of the discussed interventions, only the US led war in Iraq lacked an apparent favorable public policy response. However upon deeper observation it became apparent that in reality Australians opposed the method in which the intervention policy was being employed (unilaterally rather than multilaterally under UN auspices) rather than the policy itself. Australian foreign economic policy is also connected to the USA through a bilateral free trade agreement. The Australian public strongly favors such agreements in general, but feels that the particular agreement with the USA was inadequately negotiated and as such a ‘bad deal.’ However, as in the case of security, the Australian populous is not against the policy of free trading, but rather the implementation of the policy in this specific instance. Environment policy is essentially a non-issue as it relates to public opinion and US relations. Australians indicate in survey data that it should be a high priority in foreign policy, yet it isn’t reflected in electoral behavior nor is there evidence indicating that it is seen as an important issue in relationship to Australia US relations by Australian citizens. Finally, an important trend to point out is the clear distinction between L-NP voters and ALP voters. L-NP consistently respond in ways that favor America and American policy (or are more lenient with America when the policy is disagreed with) that the ALP voters. ALP voters are demonstratively less pro America and give less leniency when they disagree with a policy.

The next section will explore the relationship between these public opinions and policy formation with Australia.


We must now attempt to answer the question of the potential for a link between Australian Public opinion and policy formation with a focus on security, economics and environment policy. Causality is very difficult to determine in the opinion-policy relationship. When policy and opinion align, then the potential for causality exists. When policy and opinion are unaligned, then it is fairly safe to say that policy is not being driven by opinion but other factors. By looking at policy trends over time, and when opinion aligns to policy and when opinion doesn’t align to policy, it may be possible to determine some causality. However, all conclusions must be treated tentatively as many complex factors go into governmental policy formation.

Australia has made combating terrorism and stability within the south pacific two primary foreign policy goals. Maintaining a strong US alliance is another self avowed goal of the Howard government. In terms of security, it may seems that when the US called for Australian involvement in Iraq, the US alliance trumped opinion of the fact that the invasion of Iraq was being illegitimately carried out. However, the Howard government had a proven track record for multinationally legitimized behavior in the years leading up to Iraq (East Timor and Afghanistan), and this temporary departure in favor of the US alliance was therefore feasible and in line with Howard’s doctrine of the primacy of the US alliance. The Solomon Islands intervention which occurred almost immediately after the Iraq intervention again returned to the normative multilateral UN sanction intervention patterns that aligned with public opinion. The fact that the Howard government stimulated that the Solomon Islands intervention MUST be approved by the regional south pacific body shows that multilateralism was a value to the administration in the same way it was a value to the Australian people. Moreover, Howard was able to use the Solomon Islands engagement as an excuse to divert military resources away from Iraq. By doing so, Howard was able to placate US requests for continued deeper involvement by demonstrating a pressing regional need, while at the same time gain social and political capital at home. This apparent calculation leads me to believe that in the case of security concerns, although the US alliance can at time out weigh public opinion, opinion holds enough force that the government must respond to soon after going against it.

The relationship between public opinion and economic policy is also fairly aligned. The public overwhelmingly wants to create free trade arrangements and the government active pursues free trade arrangements. Moreover, the government has committed to do this through both bilateral and multilateral agreements as each proves to be more effective situationally. The government has made no commitments to unilaterally lower trade boundaries (such unilateral lowering of boundaries is strongly opposed by popular opinion.). Negative attitudes towards the AUSFTA center on the fact that Australians feel that their government was not tough enough during negotiations and did not obtain the best possible deal. It’s hard to now exactly what occurred during the negotiations, but it is feasibly that pressure to keep the US-Australia Alliance strong caused Australian negotiators to not negotiate as harshly as they might have in relationship to another country. However, an FTA was still successfully negotiated and passed by both countries, neither the US nor Australia changed the policy of advancing free trade.. It seems that the US alliance may have out weighed public opinion and caused the Australians to develop a slightly less than favorable agreement. However, alignment to public opinion is still quite apparent, as in the case of security.

In the Case of the Environment, Australian policy does align with opinion in that Australia participates in the vast majority of environmental treaties. The Howard government has a rhetorical self avowed goal of dealing global warming issues. This aligns with public opinion. Australia’s lack of participation in the Kyoto protocol must be accounted for? Two factors are key to accounting for this and both relate to the United States. The first is the primacy given to the US alliance. Australia continues to align itself with the United States whenever possible. The second is that the US place of economic, military, and political dominance in global order makes US participation extremely important for any policy that will effectively deal with global environmental issues. The Howard government recognizes this fact and expresses the desire to bring the US into engagement on the issue of global warming. Though not participating in Kyoto, Australia has also set as its own goal a reduction of greenhouse emissions. Therefore, Australia’s abstention from Kyoto does not in fact indicate a policy contrary to public opinion but one that hopes to implement global environmental change as effectively as possible (meaning with the participation of the US as well). When direct participation in Kyoto would not yield this resulted effectiveness, the Australian government created a policy approach that still sought to improve the global environment, but took into account the response of the US. Policy and opinion align. In the case of Environmental concerns, even though policy and opinion align, the lack of importance given to Environmental concerns in the last federal election lead me to believe that this alignment is merely that, and not a causality.

In summary, although it is not possible to unequivocally prove the link between public opinion and foreign policy formation, in the majority of cases, public opinion and policy are nearly aligned and the public is generally against only some methods that policy is implemented through and rarely against the policy principles themselves. A case where the government attempts to implement a policy that is in direct contradiction to popular opinion (such as recognizing Iraq as a legitimate government and sending aid in it’s fight against the United states, or having an officially policy designed to increase greenhouse emissions) would need to occur to truly determine the effects of public opinion in influencing the government. It is telling that the government policy does not generally stray away from policies that are popularly approved. This may be a sign that the government is aware of popular opinion and knows the wisest course is to not blatantly oppose it.


The United States needn’t concern itself with Australian perceptions concerning US business, culture or people as these all received positive marks as discussed previously. However, the way in which the US has approached certain policies, especially the war with Iraq has caused the American government to loose some favor with Australian people. The first and foremost recommendation I would make to the US government is to truly exhaust all avenues for multilateral (regional and UN based) coalitions before pressuring Australia into joining ad hoc coalitions of the willing.. Australians put a premium on the legitimacy imparted by these international institutions, and it weakens Australian government that are supportive to the US to force them to pursue policies that don’t gain this legitimacy. Being supportive of the L-NP is in US interests as the ALP is consistently less eager to look to the US alliance as discussed previously. The longer the L-NP can stay in power, the more likely Australia is to cooperate with US policy. However this need to put less pressure on the N-LP by seeking multi-lateral legitimacy doesn’t mean that the US must kowtow to the UN. Rather, other sources of legitimacy may also be sought (such as NATO in the case of Kosovo, or gaining an invitation to intervene from the country in which the intervention is to take place) to gain the full favor of Australia and keep pressure off of the government.

The second policy implication would be to support Australia in its endeavors to build stability within its south pacific sphere of influence (as was done in the case of the Solomon Islands). It is important for Australia to not appear to be a neo-colonial power and any support given by the US to this endeavor must focus equipping Australia in it’s nation building and institution strengthening ability. The third recommendation would be to examine the equity of economic policy. Free trade should employed in a just manner designed to strengthen both parties. Furthermore, The US might consider helping Australia in building freer trade in the Asia pacific by forming tri-lateral trading agreements. Finally, the US must commit to develop a feasible strategy for stemming pollution and producing renewable energy. Australia has already recognized that US leadership is needed for a successful protocol to take effect, and the US now needs to step up into that role and lead.

Finally, the rise of China and the potential of a shift in Australian policy transition to a Chinese great and powerful friend is a very real possibility. The survey data sighted previously all suggests that Australian populations have a fairly favorable of China. Moreover, a demographic shift has been taking place in Australia. The tend shows a steady decline in the percentage of people born in Europe and Britain and a steady increase of the population born is East and South Asia. Well over 70% of all international students studying in Australia come from Asia and 47% of all international students indicated that they intend to immigrate to Australia.

Thus as Asian influence in Australia continues to grow, pressure for a closer relationship to China may potentially increase. The Australia US alliance cannot be taken for granted. Thus, following the above policy prescriptions aimed at helping maintain the strength of the alliance and friendliness between states becomes all the more significant.

Vox popili, vox Dei. Public opinion is alive and well in Australia and although the causality between the popular opinion and policy cannot be unambiguously established, policy tends to correlate with public opinion. Domestic issues dominate elections as mentioned previously, but the population does care about foreign policy issues in the areas of security, economics and the environment. The Australian population doesn’t typically oppose policies instigated by America, however it does oppose the way policies are implemented. America must seek to gain legitimacy for its policies in the eyes of Australian people and government to continue the successful alliance. It must also lead where appropriate (such as in environmental issues) because Australia recognized the magnitude of American power and influence. America cannot completely ignore the voice of the Australian populace as Australian policies tend to align to it, but American policy doesn’t have very far to move before the Australian people will be happy in the alliance.


Appendix 1: Historical Background:

Section 1 Australia history location and US relationship

The modern Australian state began as a British penal colony. It was founded on land inhabitant by a diverse native populous but blithely declared ‘Terra Nullius’ by the initially European colonizers thereby freeing them to embark on one of the many colonial genocides that took place as Europeans spread their influence in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the post colonial period, Australia never officially declared independence from Britain and still maintain the Queen of England as Head of State. The reasons for this lies at least in part in Australia’s geographic location and also plays a role in how its government pursues relations with the United States. Although not yet a republic, Australia maintains a parliamentary federal commonwealth system between its 6 states and two territories, which span the entire Australian island-continent.

During the colonial years, Australian Britishness formed the core of the Australian identity. Australians had at their core the belief that they “were part of an ‘organic’ worldwide community of British peoples- united by blood, history, language, and tradition-…” British race patriotism was legalized in the White Australia policy which limited migration into Australia to basically only white individuals. This trend continued with then Prime Minister Chifely defining Australia as “the great bastion of the British Speaking race south of the equator” Subsequent Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies continued this British centered worldview proclaiming the need for Australia to ally itself with “great and powerful friends” and as such not be abandoned in the South pacific. These ‘friends’ were Britain and the United States. In the 1960’s the UK’s withdrawal from many of it’s colonial obligations, choosing instead engagement in the ECC over continued nation building through out its common wealth. and Australia was left with an identity crises. White Britishness could no longer be the core identifying factor and Australians were left in a limbo. The White Australia policy came to an end and Australia was forced to engage in a more multi-cultural future. However, multiculturalism was never able to gain the same strength of British race patriotism. Often, when describing Australia, instead of the characteristics of the people, they would describe unique features of the land such as corals, apples, gum trees and kangaroos. However, this identity crises and fear of abandonment by the west made the Strategic alliance with the United states all the more important.

The Howard Government came to power is 1996 with the focus of restoring ANZUS to the cornerstone of Australian foreign policy and security. The previous decade had seen an increase in Asian engagement and a loss of primacy of Australia’s continued great and powerful friend, the United States. Even though the treaty has lost utter primacy over the decades, it still proved to be important for both states across its 50 year history. Conventional wisdom states that size and payoffs are instrumental element of alliance politics. Bilateral alliances between states that are unequal in power are perceived to be less stable than alliances between equal states. Yet the treaty survives. It can be argued that rather than immediate interest, this treat which binds a superpower to a state whose population is barely 20 million is founded upon a conception of similar common culture, ideological solidarity and political values which lead both states to view certain things such as liberal democracy as important goods. This alliance is a means in which both western states can show solidarity despite their disparate populations sizes and disparate geographical locations.

Section 2: East Timor Background

In summary, East Timor is a primarily catholic former Portuguese colony that, experienced after a period of self rule between late1975and early 1976 after decolonization. However, thereafter it was formally “integrated” into Indonesia and ruled militarily. The annexation processes was far from painless. “Terror and famine as much as military action were used to destroy opposition to military rule ….Indonesian and Catholic Church census data, and statements by the Indonesian government and the local administration, all point to fatalities numbering between 120,000 and 200,000…..Out of a total population of approximately 700,000……” Civil and military unrest continued through the 1990’s and a strong independence movement continued to thrive. “In the face of this pro-independence sentiment, there is strong evidence that the Indonesian military …[had] been funding and equipping gangs who have been tasked with terrorising the population.” During this period of time, for various reasons, Australian-Indonesian relations had ranged from cool to strained. However, in the face of the instability caused by the 1997 Asian Financial crises and the continued instability of the region, Australian policy began to become proactive. “Specifically regarding East Timor, between August 1998 and January 1999, Australian diplomacy was concentrated on persuading the Indonesian government that the East Timorese-and their leaders-should have a role in the territory's evolution. Australia has considerable security, economic and humanitarian interests in East Timor. East Timor's proximity is a security issue in itself. Prolonged disorder could generate many refugees, touching on an issue that remains important in Australian domestic politics, even if it isn’t reflected in the public opinion polling data. Beyond the refugee issue, the Timor Gap oil and gas fields (jointly administered by Indonesia and Australia under the 1989 treaty) provide a strong economic incentive for Australia to be engaged in Indonesia. The relatively large East Timorese refugee community in Australia (numbering about 20,000) has helped keep this issue framed as a test of Australia's commitment to humanitarian standards and thus put pressure on Australia to engage in the situation as well. Furthermore, Indonesia’s place in Australia's bilateral and regional relations needs to be considered. Supporting East Timorease independence could have inflamed several other separatist movements in Indonesia and lead to a breakup of the state. The break-up of Indonesia would raise many difficulties for Australia ranging from an influx of refugees to trade disruption. The East Timor situation was also a matter of personal honor for the Indonesian military and offending them would not advance good relations. Between the two states. Moreover, Indonesia is the crucial nation when it comes to the success or failure of Australia's 'engagement' with Asia. Indonesia is a crucial member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and, the ASEAN Regional Forum – all of which are institutional mainstays of Australian 'engagement' policy. Although throughout the past, Australia had always remained silent on the East Timor issue, or supported Indonesia (primarily because of issues described above) this position changed in the mid to late 1990’s, partly due to new pressure that that the US began to place on Indonesia over the issue. When presented with the dire situation in East Timor following the 1997 financial crises, “After an intense internal debate, [Australian] Prime Minister John Howard made the decision to write personally to [Indonesian]President Habibie in December 1998, to advise that a new status for East Timor should be negotiated.” Thus began Australia’s intervention in Indonesia which ultimately culminated in Indonesia acceding to a popular vote and the East Timorease population deciding through public referendum to pursue independence. Australia remained engaged throughout this process, exerting pressure on Indonesia politically and volunteering to lead a UN Sanctioned multinational force to maintain peace in East Timor after the referendum. (Because referendum caused a large resulted in violence response instigated by pro-Indonesian integrationists)

Section 3 Solomon Islands background

The Solomon Islands are an archipelago of approximately 1000 islands situated to the northeast of Australia between Papua New-Guinea (PNG) and Vanuatu. Currently, the Solomon Islands has a population that is demographically young with a low per-capita GDP of approximately $530 USD (less than two dollars per day). In the late 1800’s, the Solomon Islands became a British protectorate, but the empire did not exert much direct engagement. Thus, modern liberal state institutions were never strongly built and after independence in 1978 continued to compete with more traditional social organization hierarchies. The weakness of the state infrastructure continued and led to many, many problems. In 2003, the Solomon Islands was a failing state. Law and order were broken down, the economy had collapsed, ethnic tension were strained, firearms were prevalently displayed in society, the government failed to deliver the most basic of services lost legitimacy in the eyes of if people. Corruption was rampant. The situation was dire.

Australia had interests which led to intervention in the Solomon Islands. The first was security. Te Solomon Islands capital is a three hour flight from the eastern coast of Australia. AS a failing state, the Solomon Islands was rapidly becoming a viable haven for drug traffickers, gun runners, money launderers, identity fraud specialists, and even potential terrorists. Moreover, in a very real strategic sense a failed Solomon Islands would provide an ideal location for a foreign power to establish a presence in the near vicinity of Australia. Destabilization also has a way of spreading from state to state in a region and concerns existed that the failing Solomon Islands could lead to destabilization in the nearby weak state of Papua New Guinea. There was also some pressure for Australia to act as a responsible regional metropole and be a force for stability amongst it regional neighbors. Previously Australia had pursued a policy of purely economic aid. However this had obviously not stopped the collapse of the Solomon Islands and thus a more proactive strategy was in order.

After seeking and gaining sanction for action through region through the regional institution the Pacific Islands Forum, and further obtaining a request of assistance from the Solomon Islands Prime Minister and Parliament, a 2225 Person force (mainly from Australia, but also with contributions from new Zealand, PNG, Tonga, and Fiji) was assembled. The bulk of this force consisted (1500) of military personnel with the remainder police forces and government officials to help with institution building. The intervention was designed to restore law and order to the failing state, and then assist the Solomon Island government in state and institution building over several years to prevent a further collapse. The UN endorsed the mission ex-post facto.

Appendix 2 Table Data

Polling Data Sources Polling data was retrieved from a variety of sources, all readily available online.

1. The Lowy Institute for International Policy. All Lowy Results come from Australians speak 2005: public opinion and foreign policy Accessed March 2005

2. NewsPoll Market Research All Survey results come from various surveys but are available through a search field on the website (Search topics are Iraq, Environment, Afghanistan, and Timor)

3. Roy-Morgan Market research: Morgan Poll All Survey Results available through search field. Specific citation data included for utilized polls

4. Hawker Britton: News Pulse All Survey information available online:

5. Leadership Victoria All Poll data taken from Leadership Survey 2004 :

6. Polling the Nations: The Ultimate Survey Database The survey cannot be accessed directly. The search query with the ‘Subject’ of Afghanistan and the ‘Universe’ as Australia must be made to access the poll


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