Caught between Trump and China, one of the US’s closest allies is starting to have second thoughts

Australia Sydney rugby Donald Trump mask

Trump administration policies at home and abroad have strained relations with countries all over the world.
Those strains have been felt acutely in Australia, a country already wary of Trump, which is now increasingly at odds with both the US and China.

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The Trump administration’s confrontational approach at home and abroad have tarnished the US’s standing with one of its most important allies: Australia.

President Donald Trump’s poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic and hardline response to widespread protests against systemic racism and police brutality have further dismayed Australians who were already wary of Trump’s leadership and done so at a time when Canberra is struggling to deal with China.

Those domestic and foreign tensions were joined in Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, on June 1, when law enforcement forcefully dispersed a crowd of protesters, allowing Trump to take part in a photo op at a nearby church.

Caught in that crowd was a team of Australian journalists, whose beating by US police was broadcast into Australian homes and drew an official complaint.

“It’s really a jarring scene for a lot of Australians who have a cultural affinity with the US. I think that seemed like a very profoundly sad moment to watch,” Ryan Heath, an Australian journalist who works in the US, said of the incident on a June 3 episode of the Politico Dispatch podcast.

“I think that a lot of people either looked up to the US in a moral sense or looked to the US for protection, and I think a lot of people watching the scenes will now question whether the US can provide that leadership,” Heath said.

‘Australia is disgusted with us’

Reservations about Trump are not new in Australia. Polling by Australia’s United States Study Center in July 2019 found that just 20% of Australians said they’d prefer Trump win a second term and that Australians by a 2-to-1 margin preferred a Democrat beat Trump in the 2020 election.

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Polling done in March by Australia’s Lowy Institute found just 30% of Australians had some or a lot of confidence that Trump would “do the right thing regarding world affairs.” That was up five points from 2019, but Australians also widely rejected Trump’s “America First” policies, such as tariffs on imports or withdrawing from international agreements.

While most Australians supported partnering with the US and other democracies to promote security in the region, only 40% agreed that “Australia should act in accordance with our security alliance with the United States if it means supporting military action in the Middle East, for example, against Iran,” down eight points from 2013.

“The US-Australia alliance is the most strained it’s been in my lifetime, maybe ever,” Van Jackson, a senior lecturer in international relations at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, said in an email days after the events in Lafayette Park.

“When I worked in the Pentagon [during the Obama administration] …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Politics

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