Flat White

WTF? We prefer a hostile dictator to Donald Trump?

15 January 2020

12:34 PM

15 January 2020

12:34 PM

You’ve probably seen reports in the past 24 hours on the Pew Research Center findings on attitudes towards the United States around the world, best summarised in this table:

You may have also seen comments much like the following.

The two global pro-American clusters are Eastern and Central Europe and East and South Asia. This is easy to explain. In the first region the United States is seen as an ally and a defence against Russia and in the latter against China and North Korea. On the other hand, the old Cold War allies in Western Europe who no longer need to be protected from anyone other than themselves have been losing that loving feeling for a long time now. It’s no doubt though that Donald Trump has been a drag on America’s popularity. This is noticeable virtually everywhere but most prominent in Western Europe and Latin America:

While it’s generally not surprising that those on the right are more favourably disposed towards the United States than those on the left, you may have also picked up some far more interesting demographic differentials. For example, Pew reports:

In some countries there are also significant differences between men and women in assessments of the U.S. The country with the greatest difference is Australia, where 60% of men but only 39% of women say they favor the U.S., a difference of 21 percentage points. Stark differences also exist in Canada (18 points), Spain (17), Sweden (17), India (16), the Netherlands (14), the UK (14), Brazil (14), and Germany, Argentina and Japan (each 10 points).

So since they’ve been kind enough to mention us, take a dekko at this table — and let’s driller deeper into some astounding news you probably haven’t heard:

We were doubtful about Dubya after the shock of 9-11 wore off, batty about Barack and have been down on the Donald, although he’s slowly growing on us. But… Are you ready?

Yep. You read that right.

More than a quarter of Australians have confidence in Putin and nearly 40 per cent in Xi; feelings not shared by Russia’s and China’s neighbours or for that matter any sensible observers around the world who know not to put much faith in strongmen who lead illiberal, authoritarian and expansionist regimes.

Australia’s location in the world arguably accounts for much of this. Blindness increases with distance. That’s an excuse for the Putin figures, anyway. But Xi?

Yes, some of the reporting about China’s activities in Australia — particularly from the ABC and The SMAge — has been about as reliable as those “pals” of Meghan Markle’s who get quoted in New Idea, but there’s absolutely no doubting Xi’s regime is actively working against our national interests.

It’s conducting a ruthless espionage and propaganda campaign on our territory, imprisoning our citizens on dubious grounds and without respect for due processes, harassing and intimidating its own people who are resident within our borders and buying off our Pacific Island neighbours as quickly as their leaders — or would-be new leaders — can get their Swiss bank accounts organised, yet we mark its leader higher than Donald Trump?

Perhaps Beijing Bob Carr deserves a special serve of those steel-cut oats.

Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk, where an earlier version of this piece also appears.

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