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'John Wayne' president has critics

By CNN Senior International Correspondent Walter Rodgers

The folksy image of Bush on his Texas ranch doesn't play well in Europe

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Eight European countries have voiced support for the United States and are calling for the U.N. Security Council to "face up to its responsibilities" on Iraq.

This support comes at a time when an anti-American sentiment seems to be growing as U.S. President George W. Bush continues his tough talk and hard-line attitude towards Iraq.

The folksy image of the U.S. president on his Texas ranch has little resonance in Europe. It just doesn't play well.

Outside the United States, critics say Bush has earned himself a reputation for arrogance that is hurting his country.

Says Piers Morgan, editor of the British tabloid the Daily Mirror: "I sense a creeping anti-Americanism attached to the Bush administration based around this very much 'you are either with us or against us' mentality.

"I think people look at him and think John Wayne. We in Europe like John Wayne, we liked him in cowboy films. We don't like him running the world."

The allegation that the Bush administration bullies its allies and friends or ignores them is a common complaint among critics.

Jordan's King Abdullah reportedly complained privately that Bush told him that the United States was going to smash Saddam Hussein because "we are the mightiest nation in the world and you are either with us or against us."

Says Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of Arabic daily newspaper Al-Quds: "Arabs see George W. Bush as arrogant and stupid at the same time. The Arabs liked Bill Clinton -- they considered him wiser, more reasonable and a man who used his brain."

Others also say the president's perceived lack of intellectualism has earned him derision.

"He was found to be uncultured when he was caught not knowing anything about European history, opera, art and so on," says Rosemary Hollis of Britain's Royal Institute of International Affairs.

"The feeling is he may be a great governor of Texas, but he shouldn't be in charge of the most powerful country in the world."

Many analysts say the United States' awesome ability to project military power almost anywhere privately embarrasses Europeans, exposing Europe's relative military impotence.

Some believe Bush has become a lightning rod for this European resentment. Bush's strongest and most vocal supporter warns this criticism could get out of control.

Says British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "I think the worse thing that can happen, I really believe this, is that the world divides up between pro- and anti-American forces."

While Blair's support of Bush represents the viewpoint of some in Europe, there is a final aspect of this U.S. president's character that seems to grate on some: a perceived messianic vision that his critics find fault with.

"He comes across not as a kind of demented Christian but somebody where religious zeal is clearly there to see," says Morgan. "Almost like he's using his religion as an excuse for what he is doing."

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