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Survey: Europeans Say U.S. Partly to Blame for 9/11
Tue Sep 3, 6:10 PM ET

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - Most Europeans believe America itself is partly to blame for the devastating attacks on New York and Washington last September 11.

Reuters Photo

According to a new poll, which questioned more than 9,000 Europeans and Americans about how they look at the world one year after the attacks, 55 percent of Europeans think U.S. foreign policy contributed to the tragic events.

The highest percentage of those who thought Washington should blame itself for the attacks was in France, at 63 percent, while the lowest was in Italy, at 51 percent.

Now, however, a large majority of Europeans -- 59 percent -- think America's overseas conduct since the attacks which killed some 3,000 people is aimed mostly at protecting itself, rather than enforcing its own will around the globe.

The survey also found that while Europeans are more critical than Americans of President Bush ( news - web sites)'s handling of foreign policy, the two continents' views on the wider world as a whole are quite close.

"Despite reports of a rift between U.S. and European governments, our survey finds more similarities than differences in how the American and European publics view the larger world," said Craig Kennedy, president of German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), which undertook the survey in conjunction with the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR).

The findings showed that on Iraq, where the Bush administration has made repeated calls for "regime change" and is arguing its case for a military strike against President Saddam Hussein ( news - web sites), both Europeans and Americans support a U.S.-led invasion -- but only with international approval and support.

Only 20 percent of Americans think the U.S. should go it alone, while 65 percent of Americans and 60 percent of Europeans favor intervention with U.N. approval and allies' support.

"When presented with various scenarios for a U.S. attack on Iraq, Europeans' support for their country's participation is most heavily influenced by the presence or absence of a U.N. mandate," said the survey, which was released in Europe on Wednesday.


Interest in international news, which had been declining steadily in the United States to near record lows in the 1990s, has now jumped to its highest levels ever recorded since the CCFR began surveying foreign policy attitudes in 1974.

Sixty-two percent of Americans say they are "very interested" in news about U.S. relations with other countries, the same percentage as those interested in national news.

International terrorism tops the list of threats identified both by Europe -- where people in France, Germany, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland were questioned -- and the United States.

The threat of Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction comes next, with 86 percent of Americans and 58 percent of Europeans naming that as of great concern.

In the U.S, 67 percent those surveyed named military conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors as a threat, while Islamic fundamentalism was listed by 61 percent.

Looking at the balance of power between the two continents, the survey found Europeans ready and willing to take on a more prominent role, eager to match America's status as a superpower.

"When asked if the United States should remain the only superpower or the EU should become a military and economic superpower like the United States, 65 percent of European respondents opt for the latter," the survey said.

Highest support for this idea was among the French at 91 percent and the Italians at 76 percent, and a majority of those who supported it also said they would back increased defense spending by their own governments if it were needed to get to superpower status.

"Of those desiring the European Union ( news - web sites) to become a superpower, nine out of 10 indicate they support this as a way for Europe to better cooperate with the United States, not compete with it," the survey said.

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