The United States still aspires to set an example for other nations. But a host of economic and political problems are conspiring to jeopardize America’s standing in the world, writes foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski in “Strategic Vision” — none more critical than its citizens’ ignorance of current events, geography and history.
The cumulative effect of such widespread ignorance makes the public more susceptible to demagogically stimulated fear, especially when aroused by a terrorist attack. That, in turn, increases the probability of self-destructive foreign policy initiatives. In general, public ignorance creates an American political environment more hospitable to extremist simplifications — abetted by interested lobbies — than to nuanced views of the inherently more complex global realities of the post-Cold War era.