I am leaving the paneled halls of the stately Mead manor today to spend a week giving lectures on American foreign policy in Lithuania. This is a kind of trip I’ve been making for the State Department since the Clinton administration, and it’s taught me a lot. During the Bush years I traveled pretty intensively in the Muslim world and especially in the Arab countries. Dedicated readers of this blog will have read my post on my last visit to Pakistan; that was also a State Department trip.
The State Department doesn’t put any restrictions on what you say when you appear as part of these speaker programs, and as blog readers know, I’m not shy about sharing my personal opinions. However, over the years I’ve learned that foreign audiences are usually more curious about learning how this crazy American system works and why we do the things we do than they are in listening to personal opinions about what the United States should or should not do next. What I’ve found to be most useful is to help people see how our history helps shape the debates we are having now — and I do my best to be fair to all sides as I try to put our current debates in a historical context.