If America Really Is Unpopular, We Have Only Ourselves to Blame

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping after a signing ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People on April 14, 2023, in Beijing, China. (Photo by Ken Ishii/Getty Images)

Dear Capitolisters,

If recent reports are to be believed, it’s tough out there for Team America right now, especially in its ongoing clash (ahem, competition) with China. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers kicked off the worrying a couple weeks ago when he cautioned that, based on his recent discussions with various foreign officials about U.S.-China economic “fragmentation,” many developing countries are choosing to “fragment” with Beijing: 

Somebody from a developing country said to me, ‘what we get from China is an airport. What we get from the United States is a lecture,’…. We are on the right side of history—with our commitment to democracy, with our resistance to aggression in Russia… But it’s looking a bit lonely on the right side of history, as those who seem much less on the right side of history are increasingly banding together in a whole range of structures.

Others have voiced similar concerns about waning U.S. popularity abroad, pointing to various events and international meetings at which American diplomats feel sidelined and “powerless.” 

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