- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 2004


International resentment toward President Bush has spilled over to include bad feelings about the American people — in at least in three European countries that oppose U.S. policies in Iraq.

But Americans in general remain far more popular than their president — often by margins of 2-to-1 and higher — according to polling done for the Associated Press in seven U.S. allies.

Mr. Bush was seen unfavorably in every foreign country polled, with his highest favorable rating coming in Australia at 40 percent. But Americans as a whole were seen unfavorably only in three countries — France, Germany and Spain.

The U.S. rift with longtime allies France and Germany is the most serious in years, and relations with Spain have been particularly frosty since Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq last April.

Mr. Bush pledged soon after his re-election victory on Nov. 2 that he would work to “deepen our trans-Atlantic ties with the nations of Europe.” He has planned a trip to Europe in February.

But the president has plenty of work to do if he hopes to win over Europeans, according to international AP-Ipsos polls.

The polling suggests a lack of European understanding of Americans rather than a surge of anti-Americanism, said Gilles Corman, the director of public affairs for Ipsos-Inra of Belgium.

Polling in the United States as well as Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain was done for the AP by Ipsos, an international polling company.

A majority in each of the European countries polled, including close U.S. ally Britain, said they were disappointed by the re-election of Mr. Bush.

“Above all, they appear to be worried about the consequences of this election,” Mr. Corman said. “The predominant feelings about Bush’s re-election in the European countries are disappointment and surprise more than anger.”

Mr. Bush’s re-election was greeted with dismay by many in Europe and prompted negative headlines in various newspapers.

“How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?” asked the Daily Mirror, a liberal tabloid in Britain that opposed the war in Iraq.

In France, Mr. Bush’s re-election drew headlines like the left-leaning Liberation’s “L’empire empire,” a play on words that means “The Empire gets worse.”

In Spain, relations with the United States have deteriorated since Mr. Zapatero’s Socialist Party unexpectedly won the March 14 general election just three days after the Madrid commuter train bombings. The terror attacks turned public opinion against conservative Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, a staunch Bush ally.

In Australia, Canada, Britain and Italy, people had a negative view of Mr. Bush, but a majority in those countries said they viewed Americans favorably.

“The negative view that Canadians have of George Bush does not extend to Americans in general,” said Darrell Bricker, president of Ipsos-Reid Public Affairs in North America.

In Canada, about six in 10 Canadians said they were disappointed with the re-election. The president was asked last month during a trip to Canada about various polls that show Canadians and Americans drifting apart.

“We just had a poll in our country where people decided that the foreign policy of the Bush administration ought to stay in place for four more years,” Mr. Bush replied.

As reflected by his re-election, a majority in the United States view Mr. Bush favorably. A little more than half of those polled in this country said they were hopeful and were not disappointed after the election.

The AP-Ipsos polls of about 1,000 adults in each country were taken Nov. 19 to 27 and have margins of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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