The US is now seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbors and allies, according to an international survey of public opinion published yesterday that reveals just how far the country's reputation has fallen among former supporters since the invasion of Iraq.
Carried out as US voters prepare to go to the polls next week in an election dominated by the war, the research also shows that British voters see US President George W. Bush as a greater danger to world peace than either North Korean President Kim Jong-il or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both countries were once cited by the US president as part of an "axis of evil," but it is Bush who now alarms voters in countries with traditionally strong links to the US.
The survey has been carried out by the Guardian in Britain and leading newspapers in Israel (Haaretz), Canada (La Presse and Toronto Star) and Mexico (Reforma), using professional local opinion polling in each country.
It exposes high levels of distrust. In Britain, 69 percent of those questioned say they believe US policy has made the world less safe since 2001, with only 7 percent thinking action in Iraq and Afghanistan has increased global security.
The finding is mirrored in the US' immediate northern and southern neighbors, Canada and Mexico, with 62 percent of Canadians and 57 percent of Mexicans saying the world has become more dangerous because of US policy.
Even in Israel, which has long looked to the US to guarantee national security, support for the US has slipped.
Only one in four Israeli voters say that Bush has made the world safer, outweighed by the number who think he has added to the risk of international conflict, 36 percent to 25 percent. A further 30 percent say that at best he has made no difference.
Voters in three of the four countries surveyed also overwhelmingly reject the decision to invade Iraq, with only Israeli voters in favor, 59 percent to 34 percent against. Opinion against the war has hardened strongly since a similar survey before the US presidential election in 2004.
In Britain 71 percent of voters say the invasion was unjustified, a view shared by 89 percent of Mexicans and 73 percent of Canadians. Canada is a NATO member whose troops are in action in Afghanistan. Neither do voters think the US has helped advance democracy in developing countries, one of the justifications for deposing former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Only 11 percent of Britons and 28 percent of Israelis think that has happened.
As a result, Bush is ranked with some of his bitterest enemies as a cause of global anxiety. He is outranked by Osama bin Laden in all four countries, but runs the al-Qaeda leader close in the eyes of British voters: 87 percent think bin Laden is a great or moderate danger to peace, compared with 75 percent who think this of Bush.
The US leader and close ally of British Prime Minister Tony Blair is seen in Britain as a more dangerous man than the president of Iran (62 percent think he is a danger), the North Korean leader (69 percent) and the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah (65 percent).
Only 10 percent of British voters think that Bush poses no danger at all. Israeli voters remain much more trusting of him, with 23 percent thinking he represents a serious danger and 61 percent thinking he does not.
Contrary to the usual expectation, older voters in Britain are slightly more hostile to the Iraq war than younger ones. Voters under 35 are also more trusting of Bush, with hostility strongest among people aged 35-65.
ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,010 adults in the UK by telephone from last Friday to Monday. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.
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