washingtonpost.com  > Politics > Elections > 2004 Election
Page 2 of 2  < Back  

Kerry Is Widely Favored Abroad

In Germany, Stern magazine offered this declaration on its cover: "George W. Bush, MORALLY BANKRUPT." In France, Nouvelle Observateur magazine published a cover story entitled: "Why It's Necessary To Beat Bush."

In Canada, the animosity has been running so high that the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. this month aired a program called, "Has Bush-bashing gone too far?" And in France, a popular Sunday television show, "Le Vrai Journal," has a segment devoted entirely to Bush-bashing, with Americans invited to explain to the French why they hate Bush and plan to vote against him.

_____World Opinion Roundup_____
Jefferson Morley Kerry's Vision Disappoints a Yearning World (washingtonpost.com, Sep 28, 2004)

_____Special Report_____
Globalization and Its Critics
In-depth Reports by Region
World News and Updates

At times, normally circumspect diplomats and politicians have found themselves swept up in the sentiment. A Canadian official called Bush a "moron." Britain's ambassador to Italy, Ivor Roberts, said at a conference in Tuscany last week that Bush is "the best recruiting sergeant ever for al Qaeda," according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper. And the Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, shortly after his upset victory in March, said he hoped Americans would follow Spain's electoral example and replace the incumbent president in November.

The most obvious reason for these views is the war in Iraq, which remains almost universally unpopular around the world, even in countries whose governments have sent troops there as part of the U.S.-led multinational force.

But Bush-bashing predates the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Many policy analysts date it to the administration's decision in its early days in office to reject the Kyoto protocol on climate change. That move affronted many people in the world, in part due to perceptions that it was announced in a high-handed way with no concern for world objections. His subsequent renunciation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty provoked similar dismay abroad.

There was an outpouring of sympathy for a brief period following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in western Pennsylvania, and much of the world rallied to the side of the United States in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. But that goodwill flagged when the United States filled its military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with suspected terrorists and allowed them no access to the legal system.

Political leaders of many nations who supported Bush in Iraq now find their own political fates tied to his. Australians go to the polls on Oct. 9, with conservative Prime Minister John Howard, a Bush supporter who sent Australian troops to Iraq, trying to fight off a strong challenge by the Labor Party leader, Mark Latham, who is promising to bring the troops home by Christmas.

In Japan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's support has plummeted to an all-time low of 40 percent, in part because of his strong association with Bush. And analysts cite the Iraq war in explaining the dismal showing of the British Labor Party of Prime Minister Tony Blair in recent European parliamentary and local elections.

Some world leaders on the other side of the issue are said to be quietly hoping for a Kerry victory in order to improve ties with Washington. One of them is President Jacques Chirac of France, who has had a frosty relationship with Bush since France lobbied against the Iraq war at the United Nations. One French official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he could speak more candidly that way, said that if Kerry won, "I think it will change the atmospherics of the relations, because public opinion would say it's a new start."

The hopes for a Kerry victory sometimes extend to political parties whose ideology is similar to that of the Republicans. Britain's Conservative Party, for instance, is shying away from Bush this year.

The same is true in France, where most members of Chirac's ruling Union for a Popular Movement, or UMP are rooting for Kerry. "In my party, they are all pro-Kerry, except me," said Pierre Lellouche, a member of the National Assembly and a foreign policy specialist. "I am a very lonely voice here saying even if Kerry is elected, the fundamentals of U.S. policy will not change."

Lellouche and some others contend that the biggest change in a Kerry administration might simply be a difference in tone and perception. For example, they said, a Kerry administration might be no more likely than the Bush team to sign the Kyoto climate treaty or endorse the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court without major exemptions for U.S. soldiers that the Bush administration has demanded.

Also, a Kerry administration is likely to make uncomfortable demands on traditional U.S. allies to help share the military burden in Iraq, something that many diplomats say will not happen.

For all the rancor against Bush, he does draw strong support in some parts of the world. He has backers in Israel, for instance, thanks to a strong pro-Israel policy. A recent opinion poll by the Maariv newspaper found that 48 percent of respondents in Israel supported Bush and 29 percent backed Kerry. Bush also has a good reputation in the affluent Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore, whose government largely shares Bush's fears of Islamic extremism.

In East Asia and India, areas that are benefiting from the expansion of world trade, many people view Kerry warily because of criticisms during his campaign of the exporting of American jobs.

One other place where Bush appears somewhat popular is Sudan, particularly in the Darfur region.

Some Sudanese say they wish his interventionist policies would extend to their country. "We could use a regime change," said Halima Huessin, a Sudanese aid worker in Darfur, as she looked out over a gaggle of children covered in flies and men sleeping in thatched huts.

Correspondents in Toronto, Mexico City, London, Moscow, Cairo, Jerusalem, New Delhi, Beijing, Tokyo, Jakarta, Indonesia, and Darfur, Sudan, and special correspondents in Berlin, Madrid, Budapest and Lund, Sweden, contributed to this report.

< Back  1 2

© 2004 The Washington Post Company