Friction in U.S. Foreign Policy: Cultural Difficulties with the World

  • June 01, 2006
  • LTC Andrew W Stewart

The United States is so culturally different by virtue of its “New World paradigm” that its direct leadership style is becoming counterproductive. If the United States were more “street smart” on the world scene, it could better identify nuanced subtleties and better leverage allies, who, in turn, are better positioned to further American ideals abroad. However, such an indirect approach to world affairs is counterintuitive to most Americans who are better known for their directness and cultural ineptitude. The U.S. approach to “culture” traditionally has been to blur the differences and seek commonality, which has been at the core of American domestic success in assimilating immigrants. The American challenge is to differentiate better between domestic and foreign policy formulas for success, which need to be different if America wishes to succeed in both areas. Americans must learn to work in more indirect ways with like-minded allies to create a world favorable to U.S. interests. The author examines the ideological threats confronting the United States and America’s lack of cultural savvy, along with its implications, proposing a new outlook for policy leaders and strategists.