Barry Sanders on the Images of America Abroad


“American exceptionalism is term that sticks in the craw of many foreigners. “Aren’t all countries exceptional?” they say. At the same time, though, most people around the world have a collection of images that they associate with America as well as a deep fascination with all things American.

As remarked by authorrs in his captivating presentation of American Avatar: The United States in the Global Imagination at The Heritage Foundation on March 19, no nation in the world commands the same intense scrutiny from those who live outside its borders—which de facto makes the United States “exceptional” by global acclamation.

However, one person will often have both positive and negative images of America that are at odds with one another. American Avatar makes a valiant attempt at sorting out images and their origins, separating those we can influence from those we cannot.” Click to read the rest of this at Heritage’s blog. (Link provides video of Sander’s presentation)


At the end of this presentation, Barry Sanders made some recommendations for exporting our image abroad:

  • We must stay steadfast and honor our commitments and remember that lasting images matter
  • We must give the idea to people that we are an open society with an open mind
  • We must act and tell people we act in the interest of others
  • Our overwhelming power and willingness to make changes works
  • We must show that we are compassionate
  • We must know the charge of hypocrisy

Sanders did say their is an opportunity for social media that presents itself  when it comes to taking on these issues; however, he did not speak at any length about it. Perhaps this may be an area that DT can pick up on and expand upon later?

Another point of interest to bring up, Sanders spoke about was the images that will be when the last American Forces leave Afghanistan. He posed somewhat of a what if scenario when he brought up the images of the last helicopter leaving the US Embassy in Vietnam at the end of the war. This really raised some questions for me… How will the Taliban use our exit to increase the number of positive images in their favor and negative images in our favor in order to secure more power in the region as we being to withdraw our military forces? What can be done to produce the most valuable outcome?


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