Clear and Present Danger?

Over at Ambit Gambit, Graham Young highlights the recent findings of a report on the attitudes of candidates in the 2004 federal election.

When asked how to rate the US as a threat to Australian security, 21.9 per cent of ALP candidates said it was a "very likely" or "fairly likely" threat, placing it above China, Vietnam or Malaysia.

Of Coalition candidates only, 1.4 per cent rated the US as a fairly likely threat, placing it second from the bottom of threats

Graham argues that this, along with differing attitudes on the economy, demonstrates why Labor lost.

I too was initially troubled by the findings, but it’s also worth bearing in mind that this is a weird question to ask. The chances that any other nation would attack Australia are near-zero, with the real threat coming from non-state actors (terrorists).

So respondents’ minds then turn to the secondary question – what nation’s actions might stir the pot in such a way as to encourage terrorism? In answering that question, it’s not unreasonable that the US comes high on the list. Myself, I’d probably tick the "none of the above" box.

If that’s the case, I’d turn Graham’s concern around. The oddity is not that most ALP candiates ranked the US high, but that there are a bunch of Coalition candidates still fearing the peril from the north.

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