I like Europeans. Well, to be more precise, I like them as much as I like most Americans. I have been traveling in Europe (Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands) over the past few weeks, and my experiences inform me that most ordinary West Europeans like Americans, too. Or, again to be precise, they like us as much as they like any other foreigners. In fact, if you believe cab drivers — and I have always believed they are the best living and breathing barometer of a local zeitgeist, almost the equivalent of a scientific poll — Americans are moving ahead of a lot of other competitors for Europeans' affections. Looking to the future, I think that two trends could solidify bonds between Americans and Europeans: the growing visibility of Islam and influx of Muslims into Western Europe and the U.S., and the rise of China as a superpower.
Relations are already better than some American political pundits suspect — the ones who always are defeatists about getting along with Europe. The latest polls I could find show that 75-plus percent of Americans have favorable opinions toward the biggie West European powers like Great Britain, Germany and France. Looking back across the Atlantic, the Europeans' polls on Americans are not so glowing, but they are not as bad as they once were. A poll that Pew Research conducted across Europe just two years ago showed that America was viewed positively by a majority of respondents in most of Europe. And a recent poll of Europeans reported this year by Gallup found that most of those surveyed with any opinion of leadership of the U.S. are approving of it. Only 26 percent expressed outright disapproval of our leaders. This is perhaps what Americans can expect at best — that Europeans don't hate us. It's a starting point on the path to better communications and relations.