US and Europe are united in rejection of 'war on terror'

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George Bush's beleaguered foreign policy has been dealt a serious blow as a poll showed that Americans and Europeans reject the US President's pursuit of the "war on terror".

For the first time in its five-year existence, the Transatlantic Trends opinion poll found that more Americans opposed President Bush's handling of international affairs - 58 per cent - than approved of it - 40 per cent.

The survey, conducted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, provides a devastating commentary on the failure of President Bush and Tony Blair to convince the public of the merits of the "war on terror".

President Bush's approach has been shown to be increasingly unpopular, despite the fact that citizens on both continents share a growing fear of terrorism. European opposition to US foreign policy has risen over the past five years from 56 per cent to 77 per cent.

Since 2002 the proportion of Europeans who view US leadership in world affairs as desirable has reversed, dropping from 64 per cent positive then, to 37 per cent in yesterday's survey. Among European countries polled, which included France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK, the greatest decline was in Germany - although Europeans distinguish between their views of President Bush and their attitude towards the US.

Craig Kennedy, the president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said: "It's clear from our survey that Americans and Europeans continue to feel strongly about issues that most fundamentally affect our security. And with a majority of Americans for the first time joining Europeans in disapproving of President Bush's handling of international affairs, the US cannot afford to go it alone on global challenges."

The slump in confidence in the White House comes despite the fact that those polled are alarmed by the threat of terrorism. According to the poll, 66 per cent of Europeans regard it as "extremely important" (up from 58 per cent), as do 79 per cent of Americans, up from 72 per cent.

While President Bush's war on terror is failing to convince Americans and Europeans, his policy in the Middle East is having a negative impact in Turkey, the one predominantly Muslim country covered by the poll.

The report saidTurkey had cooled towards the US and Europe but warmed towards Iran. On a 100-point "thermometer" scale, Turkish "warmth" toward the US declined from 28 degrees in 2004 to 20 in 2006.

With the mood souring over talks on Ankara's ambitions to join the EU, Turkish sentiment towards Europe has also dropped from 52 degrees to 45. Over the same period, Turkish warmth toward Iran rose from 34 degrees to 43.