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Public Support for US at Rock Bottom Even Among 'Friends'
Published on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 by the lndependent/UK
Public Support for US at Rock Bottom Even Among 'Friends'
by Rupert Cornwell in Washington

Public support for America among its allies has plummeted in the past six months, a new poll reveals. George Bush's personal approval rating has dropped to single figures in some European countries.

A survey released last night by the Pew Research Center found that the proportion of those with a broadly favorable view of the United States had slumped in France from 63 per cent in 2002 to 31 per cent this year. In Germany, the drop was steeper, from 61 per cent to 25 per cent, and in Italy from 70 per cent to 34 per cent.

Even in Britain, Washington's most loyal ally, only 48 per cent have a favorable view of the US, compared with 75 per cent last year. In Spain, a leading member of the "coalition of the willing", a co-sponsor of the withdrawn second UN resolution and a supporter of military action against Saddam Hussein, a paltry 14 per cent look favorably on the US.

The poll suggests that the main reason for the antipathy is a dislike of Mr Bush and his policies. In Spain, just 5 per cent approve of his foreign policy, 8 per cent in Russia, 9 per cent in Turkey, 10 per cent in France and 14 per cent in Germany. In Britain, the figure is 23 per cent.

The findings confirm that the President and his hardline policies have seriously damaged America's image. Even in Poland, a member of the "new Europe" given approval by Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defense Secretary, only 50 per cent gave their backing to the US government, as opposed to 79 per cent last year.

* The European Commission broke with tradition yesterday and launched a direct attack on British and Spanish support of military action against Iraq.

The intervention came as EU leaders prepared for a summit on the conflict tomorrow. Last night, foreign ministers paved the way for the summit with discussions over dinner in Brussels without a British minister at the table.

Reijo Kemppinen, the European Commission's chief spokesman, said earlier: "Unilateral [military] action seems about to be taken by some countries, and we regret that ... We continue to argue that UN approval [for military action] was important and is still important.We have to try to put the process back on a UN track."

2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd


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