Mitch writes in his post below about Anti-Americanism. Since it would take some books’ worth of material to cover the issue comprehensively, I’ll just list some points here (feel free to add your won in the comments):
-While anti-Americanism is a very real phenomenon, it needs to be pointed out that articles like those Mitch links to constitute published rather than public opinion. The steady barrage of such articles does color the opinion Europeans have of America, but the effect is rather superficial, and does not stand up to substantiated information to the contrary, at least not after the usual period of denial. Once blogs and other alternative media start to gain status in Europe, things should start to improve.
-Anti-Americanism also usually is not as bad as Americans perceive it. Both liberal and conservative media have an incentive to overemphasize its extent; liberals because it seems to affirm their claim that W is bad for America, for his policies allegedly make the country hated all over the world, while conservatives hope that tales of hostility abroad help to close the ranks, i.e. encourage Americans to stand behind their government.
-While anti-Americanism is a quite irrational sentiment, those who propagate it have a rational if not very nice reason to do so: Unlike economic activity, politics is a zero-sum-game. Political influence is very much relative, so that influence for one party or country means less influence for the others. Anything that helps to make the most powerful less popular and influential conversely increases the influence of their competition.
-Many Americans tend to react to anti-Americanism by asserting that they are different than anybody else, in ways that those others won’t even be able to understand. This is self-defeating, for it works into the hands of those want to marginalize American influence in the world. It would be much more productive to ignore the loudmouths and engage the moderate majority which actually is open to honest debate (even if it isn’t an easy thing to do).
-This kind of exaggerated resentment should also be taken as a kind of back-handed compliment, for those who disseminate this kind of nonsense implicitly acknowledge that they regard their target as top-dog.
-Projection also is a major factor. We all remember how our respective countries behaved when they could pretty much do as they wished (I don’t want to go into the gory details here).
-The concrete level of anti-Americanism also depends on circumstances and whoever is President at the time. Bill Clinton did some things that could potentially have led to similar levels of resentment as George W. Bush. The reason why they didn’t was that Clinton has an exuberance and a charm (Republicans may interpret these characteristics differently) which Bush simply is lacking, and because he gave his European counterparts plenty of rhetorical pats on the head. Europeans also can’t really be angry at somebody who is that open a hedonist, while Bush tends to rub most of us the wrong way.