WASHINGTON – At first, the eyes of the world did not question U.S. vigilance in defending its people against terrorists following the September 11 attacks. But less than a year later, the eyes became accusatory, criticizing the government's tactics in war and its influence over the global balance of power.
"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists," President Bush told other governments in the first days following the slaughter of more than 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania a year ago. Congress responded by rushing through $40 billion for a war on terrorism, and the U.S. military embarked on a mission to "hunt down" the Al Qaeda terrorists aided by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
U.S. forces and law enforcement officials have since rounded up more than 1,300 terror suspects in 70 countries, according to U.S. officials, and suspected Al Qaeda members remain in detention by military forces in the now infamous "Gitmo" lock-up at Guantanamo Bay.
This situation does not please everyone. Shortly after the attacks, allies appeared to be coming out of unlikely corners. Pakistan, which has been blamed in part for aiding the Taliban with manpower and resources in the first place, pledged to help the U.S. root out supporters in that country, just south of the Afghani border.
Military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf has emerged as a willing accomplice in fighting the war on terror, allowing American soldiers on Pakistani soil and turning over one-time friends to authorities, despite growing protests from hard-line Muslim factions in his country.
Russia, once a Cold War nemesis, has pledged its own support in the war, allowing a U.S. presence in post-war territories for the first time ever. The Pentagon now has troops in the former Soviet states of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan on Afghanistan's northern border. Washington has also sent troops to Georgia, where Muslim forces hold the mountains.
Critics say President Vladimir Putin's willingness to partner up with the U.S. is as much about the need to get Americans off Russia's back about the break-away republic of Chechnya as it is about its new-found love of the West. Still, Putin and Bush, who met earlier this summer for the second time since the attacks, enjoy a more cordial relationship than any other U.S.-Russian leaders this century.
U.S.-led trainers have also descended upon the Philippines, whose government is also fighting violent Muslim separatists; and in Yemen, an alleged haven for terrorists, to help leaders in those two countries round up suspects.
Nevertheless, since U.S. forces, aided by British and Canadian allies, launched missile attacks in Afghanistan, sympathy in some quarters of the world -- and in places where there was never any to begin with -- quickly began to dry up for the victims of the worst terrorist attack in modern history.
The reaction by Muslim and Arab countries after the attacks did not come as a surprise to foreign policy experts, who said Sept. 11 was part of a systematic campaign of terror fueled in part by anti-U.S sentiment in the context of extreme Islamic teachings, and in protest of the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia and for U.S. support of Israel.
Shortly after the highjacked planes hit the two towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, news cameras caught bands of Palestinians cheering in the streets. Newspaper editorials and punditry across the country -- even in allied nations like Britain and France -- suggested, however subtly, that through its own interventionist foreign policies, the U.S had brought the attacks upon itself.
But after the bombing of Taliban forces in Afghanistan, the criticism became more widespread.
"Today, the U.S. is the victim," a tough critic of the Islamicists, Pakistani physicist and commentator Pervez Hoodbhoy, wrote. "But the carpet-bombing of Afghanistan will cause it to squander the huge swell of sympathy in its favor the world over."
A Tehran newspaper told Iranians that Washington's leaders "prescribe war and bloodshed as the only remaining course open to America for survival."
A Gallup poll three months into the war found that esteem for America remained at all-time low levels in the Muslim world: Only 15 percent had a positive image of the U.S. Even Kuwait, which the U.S. liberated in the Persian Gulf War in 1990, only honored America with a 28 percent favorable rating.
While its president remained on point with Bush, the Russian people seemed to lose faith in their newfound friends in the West, too. Moscow's leading polling organization found America's approval rating among Russians dropped from 70 percent to below 50 percent from September to March. The pollsters attributed it to the bombing and worries about a new U.S. presence on Russian borders.
A U.S. Council of Foreign Relations study found that "stereotypes of the United States as arrogant, self-indulgent, hypocritical, inattentive and unwilling or unable to engage in cross-cultural dialogue are pervasive and deeply rooted," and suggested recently that the U.S. do a better job at representing its goals of democracy throughout the world.
But Bush has been firm in his resolve to see the war through -- insisting at every turn that this is not retaliation against the Muslim world, but a fight against the terrorists who targeted the U.S. on Sept. 11 and continue to plot against peaceful governments and innocent people.
In a speech to West Point graduates nine months after the attacks, Bush said "by confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem. We reveal a problem."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.