George W. Bush has squandered a wealth of sympathy around the world toward America since Sept. 11, with public opinion in 10 leading countries -- including some of its closest allies -- growing more hostile to the United States while he has been in office.
According to a survey, voters in eight out of the 10 countries, including Britain, want to see the Democratic challenger, John Kerry, defeat President Bush in next month's U.S. presidential election.
The poll, conducted by 10 of the world's leading newspapers, including France's Le Monde, Japan's Asahi Shimbun, Canada's La Presse, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Guardian, also shows that on balance world opinion does not believe that the war in Iraq has made a positive contribution to the fight against terror.
The results show that in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, Spain and South Korea, a majority of voters share a rejection of the Iraq invasion, contempt for the Bush administration, a growing hostility to the U.S. and a not-too-strong endorsement of Kerry. But they all make a clear distinction between this kind of anti-Americanism and expressing a dislike of American people. On average 68 percent of those polled say they have a favorable opinion of Americans. The 10-country poll suggests that rarely has an American administration faced such isolation and lack of public support among its closest allies.
The only exceptions to this trend are the Israelis, who back Bush 2-1 over Kerry and see the U.S. as their security umbrella, and the Russians, who, despite their traditional anti-Americanism, recorded unexpectedly favorable attitudes toward the U.S. in the survey, conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Beslan tragedy.
The U.K. results of the poll, conducted by ICM research for the Guardian, reveal a growing disillusionment with the U.S. among the British public, fueled by a strong personal antipathy toward Bush. The ICM survey shows that if the British had a vote in the U.S. presidential elections on Nov. 2 they would vote 50 percent for Kerry and only 22 percent for Bush.
Sixty percent of British voters say they don't like Bush, which rises to a startling 77 percent among those under 25. The rejection of Bush is strongest in France, where 72 percent say they would back Kerry. But it is also very strong in traditionally pro-American South Korea, where fears of a preemptive U.S. strike against North Korea have translated into 68 percent support for Kerry.
In Britain the growth in anti-Americanism is not so marked as in France, Japan, Canada, South Korea and Spain, where more than 60 percent say their view of the United States has deteriorated since Sept. 11. But a sizable and emerging minority -- 45 percent -- of British voters say their image of the U.S. has got worse in the past three years; only 15 percent say it has improved.
There is widespread agreement that America will remain the world's largest economic power. This is underlined by the 73 percent of British voters who say that the U.S. now wields an excessive influence on international affairs, a situation that 67 percent see as continuing for the foreseeable future.
A majority in Britain also believe that U.S. democracy is no longer a model for others.
But perhaps a more startling finding from the Guardian/ICM poll is that a majority of British voters -- 51 percent -- say that they believe American culture is threatening Britain's culture. This is a fear shared by Canadians, Mexicans and South Koreans, but it is more usually associated with the French than the British. Perhaps the endless television reruns of "Friends" and "The Simpsons" are beginning to take their toll.
ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,008 adults age 18 and over by telephone between Sept. 22 and 23. Interviews were conducted across the country, and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.
For full results, commentary and methodology, see www.guardian.co.uk/uselection.