I've spent years traveling abroad and crossing either pond is nothing new to me. During each trip, I've always brought back two things; fond memories and a long list of new contacts. I've made it a point to stay in touch with many of these folks, who for one reason or another have seen fit to take me under their wing while I was traveling abroad. My foreign associates come from all backgrounds and walks of life. They're engaged in both the private sector and within government organizations. Their broad view of the world has been a good barometer, for me, of America's international status. What I'm hearing from them lately, both surprises and saddens me.
In a nutshell, the European view is one of absolute disbelief. As one foreign colleague of mine recently put it, our network headlines are reading more like tabloid dailies. I have found through my travels over the years that many people outside the United States hold a very high regard for us as individual Americans, and for our way of life. While they might not agree in the slightest with our politics or foreign policies, they have had a strong belief in us, Americans. What I'm being asked now, "Why are we putting up with all this nonsense?"
What does this have to do with security? As Americans, our national image precedes us everywhere we go. This image directly impacts the safety and security that we enjoy while traveling abroad and our safety and security here at home. Ask yourself, do we seem as strong an undivided nation today as we were in years past? Regrettably, our friends in foreign lands are answering that question in the negative.
Americans as a whole have always been global travelers. Adventure is in our spirit, and that should never change. But when our strength and united resolve as a nation is questioned, as it is today on a global level, then our very survival while traveling abroad is placed in jeopardy. Right now the world outside of our nation is questioning our ability to unite. And in my view, as an international security consultant, that makes Americans traveling abroad more vulnerable.