Friday, September 08, 2006

Europe is from Mars, America from Venus

The United States has had it's ups and downs. Under George Bush it has been almost nothing but downs. Historically Europe has been allied with the US and wanted the US to play a major role in the world -- something I don't think is good for America. But Europeans no longer feel that way. Support for the US and its role in the world has dramatically declined in Europe and almost all this decline is due to the fact that most Europeans can't stomach Bush. (Of course today most Americans would agree.)

The German Marshall Fund of Germany has been surveying European public opinion and reports on the dramatic decline in support for the US. In 2002 64 percent of Europeans said they wanted the US to take a strong role in the world. Be careful what you wish for. Bush took a "strong role" albeit a totally uninformed one. And now only 37 percent still want the US to take a strong role. Even during the Cold War the US hardly dropped below 50 percent.

Ronald Asmus, of the Transatlantic Center funded by the German Marshall Fund, said: "It's not just the French that don't like us. Our friends are starting to give up on us too." In the UK the approval rating for Bush is only in the teens. And Poland, where US support was highest, support for Bush has declined from 62 percent in 2002 to 40 percent today. Across Europe his approval rating is a mere 18 percent.

It is noted that this creates a problem. Even when European leaders might agree with Bush on an issue the President's low approval rating causes them to consider their political fortunes and refrain from supporting him.

Bush's one firm ally in Europe, some say his poodle, has been Tony Blair. But Blair is on his way out. His support for Bush has eroded his support at home and his own party has pressured him into announcing his retirement. A major reason for this is the dramatic decline in support for the US among the English. In 2002 only 7% of the English said it was very undesirable for the US to play a major role in the world. Today that has almost tripled to 17%. Brits saying this is somewhat undesirable have gone from 21% of the population to 28%. Meanwhile those who thought US involvment was very desirable has been cut in half from 24% to just 12%.

In Germany only 5% of the population think this is very desirable a drop from 11% in 2002. Again those finding US involvement very undesirable almost tripled from 6% in 2002 to 14%. Three percent of Europeans approve very much of Bush's handling of international relations while 44% disapprove very much.

If Bush has squandered this much good will from our friends what has done in those nations that were more weary of the US to begin with? I suspect that some of the unhappy election results in various nations, which turned to the hard Left, is a reaction to Bush and American hegemony.