Are We Big, Ugly Americans Again?

The moderate Independent newspaper wrote: "America is already envied and disliked because of its domination. The danger is that Mr Bush's speech, with its simple certainties and pronounced unilateralist flavour, will merely fuel that resentment further."

The speech prompted Anatole Kaletsky — the main economic correspondent for the right-of-center Times of London, which typically takes a favorable position toward the United States — to write: "The greatest danger to America's dominant position today is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is the arrogance of American power."

Trans-Atlantic Tensions Are Nothing New

The significance of such comments is unclear, however. Some feel that European unease with American policy is nothing new.

"I think the reality is that there are long-standing strains within the [American-European] alliance," says Warren Bass, director of special projects and the Terrorism Program at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

He cites disputes that are "near and dear to the hearts of many European countries," such as Bush's refusal to sign the Kyoto environmental accord and his desire to leave the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, among others.

In France, even just two weeks after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, poll by an international research firm found only 24 percent thought American foreign policy had a positive effect on France. In Germany, the total was 37 percent; in Britain it was 43 percent.

Broad Criticism, But How Deep Does It Run?

Iain Murray, research director at the Statistical Assessment Service, a nonprofit research organization in Washington, believes the criticism of U.S. policy is mostly confined to politicians and writers.

"There's still a residual sentiment in favor of America among the general populace," he says.

He also says upcoming elections in France and Germany may be pushing politicians there to show they are not merely towing the American line.

"There's definitely a [backlash against America] but I think many commentators are exaggerating it," he says.

Robert Lieber, a professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University in Washington, says he thinks the European outcry is unlikely to lead to a major rift between the continent and the United States.

"Underlying things hold us together," he says. "Western values, shared interests in the Western economic system, liberal constitutional governments."

ABCNEWS' Tony Eufinger in London and Christophe Schpoliansky in Paris contributed to this report.

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