October 11, 2023

The Current American Spectacle

Event Series: Free Speech at the Crossroads: International Dialogues

Showing the The Current American Spectacle Video

Perceptions of the United States, once celebrated as the leader of the free world, seem to have slipped in the international realm over recent years. Under former President Donald Trump, far from being seen as “great again,” approval of America dropped to an all-time low in overseas surveys, with the citizens of several nations saying explicitly that they were losing confidence in American foreign policy and democracy. Despite a turbulent election in 2020 and an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021, America’s favorability ratings appeared for a time to be on the upswing. But renewed domestic tensions, provoked by extreme political polarization and the seeming entrenchment of a bipartisan gerontocracy, have not helped. Now the House of Representatives is in turmoil. As the United States attempts to bounce back and prove itself a reliable global leader that listens to its own people, what does the rest of the world make of its identity crisis?

The event was followed by a Q&A session moderated by Sanford J. Ungar, president of the Free Speech Project, and Michael Scott, director of the Future of the Humanities Project.

This event was co-sponsored by the Free Speech Project (Georgetown University) and the Future of the Humanities Project (Georgetown University and Blackfriars Hall and Campion Hall, Oxford).


Susan Eisenhower, a policy analyst with a focus on national security, is chair emeritus at the Eisenhower Institute. She serves on MIT’s Energy Initiative Advisory Board and formerly co-chaired the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee for the U.S. secretary of energy. In 1998, she was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences Standing Committee on International Security and Arms Control, where she served for eight years. She has authored hundreds of columns for the Washington PostNew York Times, and Los Angeles Times.

Nirmal Ghosh has been a foreign correspondent for the Straits Times since 1994, based in Manila, New Delhi, Bangkok, and since 2016 in Washington, DC, covering elections and insurrections, conflicts, coups, the environment, culture, and geopolitics. A former president of the foreign correspondents’ associations of both the Philippines and Thailand, he has written five books and is also a podcaster, writes poetry, and has made films (mostly on elephants). Ghosh is active in non-profit work in wildlife conservation and combating transnational organized crime.

Michael Oborne is a fellow at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, where he is also member of the Las Casas Institute’s Advisory Board. Previously, he served as director of multidisciplinary issues at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, where he supervised its International Futures Program and the Global Science Forum. He also served as deputy director of the directorate for science, technology and industry.

Richard Wike directs global attitudes research at Pew Research Center. He writes about international public opinion on various topics, such as America’s global image, the rise of China, democracy, and globalization. Wike has authored numerous Pew reports and has written pieces for the Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Financial Times, Guardian, Politico, CNN, BBC, CNBC, and other publications. He was previously a senior associate for Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.