Poll shows US isolation, hostility and mistrust
A public opinion poll taken by the non-partisan US Pew Research Centre shows that the war in Iraq has widened the rift between the United States and the rest of the world, with a further surge of anti-Americanism in a number of countries. One of the most extreme shifts was seen in Turkey, where the poll found that 83 per cent of Turks now have an unfavourable opinion of the United States, up from 55 per cent last summer. The swing was even sharper in Indonesia, where 75 per cent had a favourable opinion of the US in 2000 while now, 83 per cent have an unfavourable view. Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Centre, said, "Anti-Americanism has deepened, but it has also widened. People see America as a real threat. They think we're going to invade them." In France, Germany and Spain, where public anger over the US war plans spilled massively into the streets, fewer than 50 per cent have a positive view of the United States, the poll showed. Among the French, favourable opinion of the United States has recovered to 43 per cent — up from what Pew describes as the "abysmal" level of 31 per cent in March, but well below the 63 per cent favourable rating last year. In Germany, favourable opinion was up from 25 per cent in March but down from the 61 per cent in the summer of 2002. On the other side of the Atlantic, Americans are infuriated by the lack of support for their warmongering government. Only 29 per cent of Americans now say they have a very favourable or somewhat favourable view of France, down from 79 per cent in February 2002. Just 44 per cent of Americans take a favourable view of Germany, a dramatic plunge from 83 per cent in February 2002. "The figures confirm that the Iraq crisis has precipitated a profound crisis in trans-Atlantic relations", said Timothy Garton Ash, author and director of the European Studies Centre at Oxford. The strongest support for the US was in Britain, America's chief partner in the war. Positive views among the British have bounced back to 70 per cent, up from 48 per cent in March. In Spain, also a US ally in the war, only 38 per cent now have a positive opinion of the United States, although this is a big increase from the 14 per cent in March. The hostility in Spain is not limited to US policies but extends to Americans as people — fewer than half have a positive impression. Asked if they had an unfavourable view of the United States because of George W Bush or a more general problem with America, a majority in Western Europe blamed the President. Nearly three quarters in France and Germany blame Bush, as do two-thirds in Italy and six out of 10 in Britain. One casualty of the increased strains between America and Europe is NATO. A more independent approach to security and diplomatic affairs for Western Europe was favoured by more than three-quarters in France, more than six out of 10 in Spain, Turkey and Italy, and 57 per cent in Germany. Another casualty of the war is the credibility of the United Nations. "Favourable ratings for the world body have tumbled in 16 of the 18 countries for which benchmark figures are available", the Pew report notes. In not a single country surveyed does a majority believe that the United Nations still plays an important role in dealing with international conflicts. The post-September 11 sympathy for the United States is also down, dropping to 60 per cent from 75 per cent in France, to 60 per cent from 70 per cent in Germany and to 51 per cent from 73 per cent in Russia. Opposition to the war on terror has swelled to more than 70 per cent in Pakistan and Turkey and to 97 per cent in Jordan. Majorities in most countries polled reject the Bush doctrine of military pre-emption. Those with majorities backing the doctrine were traditional US allies — Canada, Britain, Australia, Israel and Pakistan, which is involved in a military stand-off with India over Kashmir.
* * *Acknowledgement to Information Clearing House: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/