Bush Gets Poor Marks from Europeans

July 7, 2008 - 8:28 PM

(CNSNews.com) - While more than half of Americans polled consistently express approval of the overall job President Bush has done so far, Europeans overwhelmingly give Bush low marks in a recent poll for his handling of international policy, claiming he knows less about Europe than his predecessors and all decisions made are based on U.S. interests only.

According to the poll conducted in Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain by the Pew Research Center, seven in 10 said Bush considers only U.S. interests when making foreign policy decisions, while almost three-fourths felt Bush understands Europe less than presidents before him.

Among the issues that Europeans most disagree with Bush include the Kyoto Treaty and missile defense, with four in five disagreeing with his stance on Kyoto and more than two-thirds disagreeing with his missile defense plan.

While the poll showed an overwhelming disapproval, it also showed that most Europeans support Bush's stance on free trade and keeping U.S. troops in Kosovo and Bosnia. Also, only one in five said the basic interests of Europe and the U.S. had grown apart.

Bush's numbers on the Pew Research poll run anywhere from 40 to 60 percentage points below the levels President Clinton held. Approval of Bush's foreign policies ranged from one in six in France to three in 10 in Italy, while approval of Clinton's foreign policy dealings ranged from two-thirds in France and Great Britain to almost nine in 10 in Germany.

Dana Allin, a specialist in trans-Atlantic relations at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London told the International Herald Tribune that Bush's ratings should come as no surprise given the rhetoric of Bush's campaign and administration, which was very different from Clinton's, with whom Europeans were just warming up to.

"This administration, and the Bush campaign that preceded it, have been very explicit about pursuing American interests in a narrow sense," he said. "One shouldn't be surprised if European publics react badly to this kind of rhetoric.

"Any new president is likely to have a rough treatment from European allies who were just getting comfortable with the old one," Allin said.

Jackson Janes, executive director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said if Bush is like his predecessors, his numbers will likely improve over time.

"If you look at the early European reaction to Carter, Reagan and Clinton, it was all very simplistic," Janes told the Tribune. "The first six months is a rush to judgment."

Marshall Wittman from the Hudson Institute told wire services that the findings of the Pew poll are a positive sign for America.

"In the long run, it's an asset domestically because it shows the president is willing to stand up for American interests," he said. "It probably shows that Europeans suffer from Texaphobia."

By Texaphobia, Wittman said, he means that Europeans may see a leader from Texas as not being sophisticated in international matters.

The poll, administered through roughly 1,000 phone calls in early August, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.