Rosie tells a story here about one of her European friend who thought “Americans myopic and that people in European and Middle Eastern countries tend to have much more informed world views.” Well, that is actually one of the European prejudices against the Americans. You can always find good examples of this. I remember a former classmate (at another American university) asking me to write my name in my own language (Danish) so she could see the characters. She realized Danish was not like Arabic or Chinese but more similar to English. She had never heard about the European Union or other basic things about Europe.
Rosie also points to the fact that it had not occurred to her that war and propaganda had a long history, way longer than the history of the United States. In a recent blog about war and propaganda I talked about Thucydides and the Bayex Tapestry that are part of my European background.
Isn’t this exactly what America is about? The first settlers left Europe because they wanted to dissolve the ties and build another society. Part of the foreign policy debate in United States is aimed at the schism isolationism versus anti-isolationism. And I guess for a long time, it has not been necessary for the average American citizen to bother about the rest of the world as long as the United States was a leader in the world on foreign policy, technology, and trade.
Is it changing now because of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan? And because United States position is challenged (see Graff’s First Campaign). In my journalism class at American University in 2001, my professor talked about how few correspondents American media outlets have overseas. Garrett Graff also talked about this (class 4), and nothing has really changed. Rosie sent me to Gregg’s interesting blog entry about the war and social media. I am not sure that social media will get Americans more interested in foreign relations and welfare. Social media is a tool for those who are already interested and want to be part of the conversation. But as Gregg notes that is data and not information, someone has to put the facts into context.