So what about the post-Cold War world? While the image of the US in Europe already experienced a strong boost during the Clinton-years it skyrocketed after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 – only to fall into a massive dive as a reaction to some of the policies of the administration of president George W. Bush.
Polls clearly are tricky instruments, instruments of politics themselves and highly unreliable historical sources. The following data – for whatever polls are worth, if carried through properly they still do indicate tendencies of shifts within public opinion – certainly reveal that traditional stereotypes do continue to hold their power. Still, many results also clearly indicate that it is not the United States of America as such or highly esteemed US-values which are opposed by many people around the globe but rather specific actions and decisions carried through by the administration of president George W. Bush. Here we are potentially confronting a new development that cannot simply be explained as primitive residues of anti-Americanism.
It is the unilateral application of the global use of force, the military, economic, cultural and political power of the United States that produced these shifts – not any opposition to traditional liberal values of US-democracy in Europe. This is proven as a matter of course by the growing number of millions of US-citizens exactly opposing the same strategies as non-Americans because they fear that the unprecedented domestic and foreign policy measures introduced after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, instead of defending endangered liberties will actually result in a weakening of democracy instead – within and outside the United States.
Robert D. Kaplan hit the bull´s eye recently when he mentioned the obvious. “It is a cliché these days that the United States possesses a global empire – different from Britain’s and Rome’s but an empire nonetheless. It is time to move beyond a statement of the obvious… How should we operate on a tactical level to manage an unruly world?”5 All of the following data therefore have to be read in this context. These results document various reactions to the more and more pervasive realization of the existence of a global US empire. And they also reveal increasing doubts about the compassionate character of the benevolent global hegemon – the USA.