Friday, November 03, 2006

Britons wary of Bush more than Kim Jong-il: poll

Britons wary of Bush more than Kim Jong-il: poll

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States is seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbors and allies, with Britons saying President George W. Bush poses a greater danger than North Korea's Kim Jong-il, a survey found on Friday.

A majority of people quizzed in three out of four countries polled also rejected the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The findings came just days before the U.S. mid-term congressional elections, with a growing number of U.S. voters wanting their troops in Iraq to be brought home.

Britain's Guardian newspaper said it carried out the survey along with Israel's Haaretz, La Presse and Toronto Star in Canada and Mexico's Reforma.

In Britain, which alongside Israel is traditionally a close Washington ally, 69 percent of those questioned said they felt U.S. policy had made the world less safe since 2001.

A majority of Canadians and Mexicans agreed, with 62 percent of those polled in Canada and 57 percent in Mexico saying their neighbor's policy had made the world more dangerous.

As for Israel, just 25 percent of people asked said Bush had made the world safer, while 36 percent felt he had upped the risk of conflict and a further 30 percent said at best he had made no difference.

Israelis alone were in favor of Bush's decision to invade Iraq, with 59 percent for the war and 34 percent against.

The ratio was starkly different in the three other nations.

Some 89 percent of Mexicans felt the invasion to topple Saddam Hussein was unjustified, as did 73 percent of Canadians and 71 percent of Britons, the survey said.

The perceived failings of U.S. foreign policy placed Bush alongside al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a cause of global anxiety, it said.

North Korea's nuclear test last month drew worldwide condemnation, while Western powers are trying to force Iran to scale back atomic work they fear may be used to make bombs. Iran says its aims are purely peaceful.

Asked whether they thought the U.S. leader was a great or moderate danger to peace, 75 percent of British people said yes. Some 87 percent felt the same about bin Laden, while Kim scored 69 percent and Ahmadinejad clocked 62 percent.

Just 23 percent of Israelis said Bush he represented a serious danger, with 61 percent disagreeing.

ICM interviewed 1,010 adults from October 27-30 in Britain. Professional local opinion polling was used in the other three countries, the Guardian said. In Israel, 1,078 people were asked, 1,007 were quizzed in Canada and 1,010 in Mexico.