- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2003

The American opinion of France has fallen dramatically in a new poll of national attitudes toward 26 foreign countries in the wake of Franco-German opposition to U.S. policy in Iraq.
The Gallup Poll finds that 59 percent of Americans regard the French as "favorable" and 33 percent deem them "unfavorable," down from 79 percent and 16 percent, respectively, a year ago.
Gallup blames the drop on France's reluctance to support military action in Iraq.
Americans' feelings toward Britain remain stalwart: 89 percent give Britain a favorable nod, and 6 percent give unfavorable ratings. Those numbers have not changed in a year. Canada followed at 89 percent favorable and 7 percent unfavorable a drop of five percentage points since last year.
The Gallup survey showed a drop in American support for Germany, which was rated favorably by 71 percent of the respondents and unfavorably by 21 percent. Those figures stood at 83 percent and 11 percent last year, respectively.
Gallup blames it on Germany's opposition to a military strike on Iraq.
"They died for France but France has forgotten," the New York Post noted yesterday, remembering the 10,000 American soldiers who died during World War II on the shores of Normandy.
The Post said the French were "Hiding. Chickening out. Proclaiming vive les wimps."
The New York Times called French policy "utterly incoherent," adding, "France, as they say in kindergarten, does not play well with others."
The French press has its own opinions. The daily newspaper Le Figaro countered that "with Bush and the ideologues of his entourage, the extreme right is in power. … They are pure products of the religious, ultraconservative crusade intolerant, repressive, racist and sexist."
French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy declared in a widely published newspaper article that "a hatred of the very idea of America" was afoot.
This notion was supported by a Pew Research Center poll of 38,000 people released in December that found favorability ratings for the United States fell in 19 of 27 countries surveyed. While Frenchmen embrace "things American," they "decry U.S. influence on their societies."
"France and Germany ensure massive collateral damage to the West," the London Times noted yesterday, adding, "We appear instead to be en route towards the mother of all diplomatic bust-ups."
The Germans may not care. In their own poll released by the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper yesterday, 57 percent said the United States was "a nation of warmongers," 93 percent believed President Bush wanted war "in pursuit of his own interests" and 80 percent said America wanted war "to boost its power."
The Gallup Poll also found that American opinions about North Korea already bad had worsened. Eighty percent rated North Korea unfavorably and 12 percent favorably. The figures stood at 65 percent and 23 percent last year.
Iraq was rated unfavorably by 90 percent and favorably by 5 percent. The numbers were 85 percent and 3 percent last year.
Italy is next to Britain on the popularity list, followed by Spain, Japan, Mexico, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Israel, Egypt, South Korea, France, Kuwait, Vietnam, China, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Cuba, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, the Palestinian Authority, Iran, North Korea and Iraq.
While Israel, Egypt, Iran and Libya have slightly better numbers this year, the "axis of evil," Gallup noted, has remained at the bottom.

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