I recently read an article called, "Why 'they' hate us" that was written by a Pakistani American who has lived about half of his life in each country. The crux of his article was that the reason a majority of the rest of the world hates Americans is because of, what is to us, obscure foreign policy decisions which have greatly affected their lives, but which most Americans have never heard about. He said that America was like Gulliver, harming lilliputians with every unintentional move. Personally, I think he is exactly right.
When I was in Bosnia a few years ago, the local students were telling us about a hot topic there, their relationship to America. Everyone was frustrated with America for two reasons. First, we were redeploying our troops stationed there, to the Middle East (they actually wanted our troops to stay there long term). And second, the Eastern European block countries were pressured into signing a piece of legislation which said that if an American committed a felony in their country, they should be extradited to the United States to be prosecuted. The legislation did not have a mirrored part bringing Europeans home in the case that they have committed a crime in America. One might understand how frustrating it would be if an American murdered someone you love, and was sent to the United States to be prosecuted, where they would presumably have a much easier time getting off. I had never heard of either of these two happenings, and I have never heard anyone in America talk about them, which leads me to think that the Pakistani was right.
I think this generation desperately needs to reclaim America's image. We, as a nation, have already achieved military dominance and prosperity on a scale that has never even been dreamed of by any empire in all history. What should we do now? Seek more power and wealth? Down that path lies the end of every empire in history; self indulgence, laxity, and stretching ourselves too thin (think RISK). I think we should turn our efforts to humanitarianism, and helping poor economies get back on their feet, and technology which will benefit everyone. If we do that, we'll have done something no empire in history has ever done, sought to help it's neighbors instead of conquer them. And maybe then they will not all gang up on us in a moment of weakness. Like the wise Sean Connery said in First Knight, "God makes us strong only for a little while, so we can help each other." Here's a few ideas about how I think we can so that.
I think rather than just giving out large amounts of money and food in crisis areas (such as Darfur now), we need to have teams of experts assessing what a poor country needs in the long run, and act on those needs to build up their own economy. I stress "build up their economy", because I think increasing the handing out of aid is not going to solve a poor countries problem, and it is not going to increase our image much either. We need to teach poor countries how to sustain themselves, implement technology to help their production, and implement financing to move it along that is not just a loan, which will put them in our debt later. Micro-financing is something that I have heard that would make a big step towards fighting poverty, but you will have to ask Christin about that.
In the end, I think America has to start making sacrifices to help the world. I'm not an expert on foreign policy, but even a layman can see that we are a superpower using virtually all of our resources to increase our wealth, influence and power. Frankly, we're being a bully, even if we don't think we are.