The Global Attitudes Project, which questioned a total of 38,263 people in 44 countries between June and October 2002, found that three out of four Jordanians and seven in 10 Egyptians had an unfavourable view of the US. Worryingly for Washington’s aim to secure the use of Turkey’s crucial military bases in the event of a military strike on Iraq, only three in 10 Turks viewed the US in a positive light. The good news for America is that majorities in 35 of the 44 countries held a favourable impression: the bad news is that the majority was marginal and decreasing in most of these.

On the Iraq question, only in the US and UK did most respondents see Saddam Hussein staying in power as a ‘greater international threat to our country’ than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Three quarters of those surveyed in Russia and France agreed that the US’ chief motive for involvement in Iraq is a desire to control Iraqi oil rather than to achieve regional stability, while even in the UK opinion was sharply divided. The same pattern emerges on the question of using force to disarm Saddam Hussein: large majorities in France, Russia and Germany are opposed, while in Britain opinion is split down the middle.

Commenting on the research, President Bush said he had not read it but that: ‘We’ll do everything we can to remind people that we’ve never been a nation of conquerors, we’re a nation of liberators.’