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Poll reveals world anger at Bush

By Alan Travis

LONDON, OCT. 15. the United States President, George W. Bush, has squandered a wealth of sympathy around the world towards America since September 11 with public opinion in 10 leading countries — including some of its closest allies — growing more hostile to the U.S. while he has been in office.

According to a survey, voters in eight out of the 10 countries want to see the Democrat challenger, John Kerry, defeat Mr. Bush in next month's presidential election.

Global survey

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 London-based 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 Mr Kerry. But they all make a clear distinction between this kind of anti-Americanism and expressing a dislike of American people. On average 68 per cent of those polled say they have a favourable 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 exceptions

The only exceptions to this trend are the Israelis — who back Mr. Bush 2-1 over Mr. Kerry and see the U.S. as their security umbrella — and the Russians who, despite their traditional anti-Americanism, recorded unexpectedly favourable attitudes towards 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, fuelled by a strong personal antipathy towards Mr Bush.

Battered image

The ICM survey shows that if the British had a vote in the U.S. presidential elections on November 2 they would vote 50 per cent for Mr. Kerry and only 22 per cent for Mr. Bush.

Sixty per cent of British voters say they don't like Mr. Bush, rising to a startling 77 per cent among those under 25.

The rejection of Mr Bush is strongest in France where 72 per cent say they would back Mr Kerry but it is also very strong in traditionally very pro-American South Korea, where fears of a pre-emptive U.S. strike against North Korea have translated into 68 per cent support for Mr Kerry. In Britain, the growth in anti-Americanism is not so marked as in France, Japan, Canada, South Korea or Spain where more than 60 per cent say their view of the U.S. has deteriorated since September 11. But a sizeable and emerging minority — 45 per cent — of British voters say their image of the U.S. has got worse in the past three years and only 15 per cent say it has improved.

A majority in Britain also believe that U.S. democracy is no longer a model for others. But perhaps, a more startling finding that a majority of British voters — 51 per cent — say that they believe that American culture is threatening their own culture. This is a fear shared by the Canadians, Mexicans and South Koreans, but it is usually associated with the French. Perhaps, the endless television reruns of Friends and the Simpsons are beginning to take their toll. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

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