Foreigners See U.S. as 'Greedy Bully'

ByABC News
September 5, 2002, 3:19 PM

W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 8 -- While the president was moving to address Congress's concerns about his foreign policy, his secretary of state was getting booed Wednesday at an international conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It may not be unusual for an American to be booed at an environmental conference these days, but it may be noteworthy that many of the countries attending the event are friends of the United States.

"I think a lot of people see a greedy bully," says Vuyo Mvoko, a journalist with SABC television in South Africa, "someone who is prepared to run roughshod over other people's interests."

It was a theme that was repeated over and over again when ABCNEWS consulted journalists around the world about the way the United States is perceived at the moment.

"The people in Germany, we accept that you are, in a way, stronger," said Peter Kloeppel of RTL television in Germany. "But what we don't accept is that you just come to conclusions and make decisions without ever putting into consideration what it might mean for other nations like, for example, the Germans."

"Japanese people think the American people are a friendly people," said Hidetoshi Fujisawa of the Japanese television network NHK. "But these days, some are thinking of them as a little bit self-centered and not knowing much about what is happening outside of the United States."

In France, a poll published this week reported a rise in hostility to U.S. policies.

"They are too much interested in their own personal business," said Christian Malar, a senior foreign analyst for France 3 TV. "They're concerned only by their own personal interest, not caring enough about the interest or sharing interest with their own friendly countries and their own allies."

Going It Alone

As the United States debates going it almost alone against Iraq, the question of whether anti-U.S. views are on the rise is more than academic. State Department officials are sufficiently concerned about growing anti-American sentiment in Europe and Russia, as well as the Middle East, that they have invited a select group of scholars to address the topic at a private conference that started this past Thursday.