hey! anti-americanism passes anti-semitism

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    WASHINGTON (AFP) - The world view of the US superpower has seldom been as low as since President George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq without explicit UN approval.

    Arrogant, aggressive, too unilateralist are just some of the terms used to describe the US administration.

    Opinion polls taken around the world confirmed the dim view of the US leader and his policies, which is most notable among traditional allies in Europe and the Arab world.

    Anti-Americanism has affected previous administrations during the Vietnam war and the deployment of nuclear missiles in Europe in the 1980s, according to Melvyn Leffler, a professor of American history at the University of Virginia, in an article for Foreign Policy magazine.

    "But the breadth and depth of the current anti-Americanism are unprecedented," he said.

    According to a study published this month by the German Marshall Fund and Compania di San Paolo of Italy, 76 percent of Europeans oppose Bush's foreign policy. This is a spectacular 20 percentage point rise in two years.

    The fall in US popularity in the Muslim world has been marked by an accompanying increase in the popularity of Osama bin Laden, who tops the US most wanted list after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Sixty-five percent of Pakistanis, 45 percent of Moroccans and 31 percent of Turks have a favourable view of the on-the-run Al-Qaeda leader, according to a Pew research poll released in March.

    If the rest of the world was voting in the November 2 presidential election, the Democrats' John Kerry would walk the competition against Bush.

    The Massachusetts senator easily beat Bush in 32 out of 35 countries asked by the Globescan institute for a survey released this month.

    Kerry wins in countries that opposed the Iraq war -- 64 percent to five percent in France, 74-10 in Germany, 61-16 in Canada -- and those in Bush's "coalition of the willing" -- 47 percent to 16 percent in Britain and 43-23 in Japan.

    Bush wins in Poland, the Philippines and Nigeria.

    The president's personal style is the main cause of his popularity problems abroad, according to Thomas Carothers, a foreign policy specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

    "The very things that make him a popular and effective politician here at home are very irritating to many other people in the world," said Carothers.

    "His kind of sarcastic behaviour, his kind of popular touch which is very nationalistic, sell very poorly in the rest of the world.

    "It seems very foreign to most other people. There is a sort international quality of statesmen that he is the complete oppostite of."

    The importance of the causes that Bush espouses are also universally recognised. The German Marshall Fund study found that 95 percent of Europeans and 96 percent of Americans believe that international terrorism is an important threat.

    It is the answer to that threat which is in dispute.

    Only 41 percent of Europeans believe that a war is justified, against 82 percent of Americans, most of whom also believe that the UN approval is not necessary.

    But again, experts such as Judy Colp Rubin at the Foreign Policy Research Institute say this is not a new phenomenon.

    "The kind of attacks encountered today would have been all too familiar in tone to Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, who had to spend as much time and energy as current leaders proving to Europeans that their country was not inherently bad," she wrote in an essay on anti-Americanism.
 
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