The Presidential Alienation Effect

The German Marshall Fund recently released an ambitious multi-issue comparative survey of public opinion in the U.S. and the Continent. The main findings have been posted here in various languages; here is the German version (G-pdf).

The basic conclusion: since the invasion of Iraq, Europeans’ views of U.S. influence on world events has become drastically negative, and European’s attitudes toward the U.S. closely track their attitudes toward George W. Bush:


The survey finds an increase in support in Europe for a European foreign policy which is more independent from American foreign policy, and Americans, interestingly enough, seem to agree that European and American foreign policy should become more independent. People on each side of the Atlantic probably have very different ideas what that actually means.

Page 7 shows how various issues (terrorism, global warming, etc.) are considered on both sides of the Atlantic. Europeans are a little less concerned by terrorism, much less hawkish on Iran, and more concerned about global warming. However, there’s a lot of overlap, and the differences aren’t as pronounced as some commentators might have us believe. Most Europeans (p. 17) believe the European Union should have its own foreign minister. (interesting idea, good luck making it work.). Public opinion in Turkey is bitterly critical of the U.S., becoming cooler toward the idea of EU membership, and warming toward Iran (pp. 18-19).

The summary: American and European public opinion on the core issues aren’t all that far apart; but the only way the U.S. could dramatically improve its standing in the world is by getting rid of George W. Bush. The U.S. doesn’t have a parliamentary system, so we’re stuck with the Decider for the next 861 days, 15 hours, 7 minutes, and 23 seconds (as of last reading).

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