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A Nation Engaged: A Look At America’s Place In The World


All this week, public radio stations across the country are taking part in NPR’s “A Nation Engaged” series – exploring America’s place in the world. 

On Think, Krys Boyd talked about how America’s role has evolved with Jeffrey Engel, director of the center for presidential history at SMU, and Ben Fountain, who has been writing about this year’s election for The Guardian.

The KERA Interview

Jeffery Engel on 

… America as a global leader:

“The United States has taken on a role in which our image is one of global protector and it’s also a place where that role is actually really quite important for the functioning of the international system. And really no better place to see this exist is than to look at the U.S. dollar, which is of course essentially the global currency at this point. The currency of last resort. It is the place that people presume is going to be the most stable and the most trustworthy and that didn’t happen by accident.”

… how America’s role has changed:

“The rest of the world is less than enthused than it used to be to come to the United States. I think they’re still overwhelmingly enthused, but we can see places around the world, in Europe in particular, that are attracting the best and brightest students and the best and brightest scientists in a way that it use to be kind of a no-brainer throughout the developing world that if you wanted to be a truly brilliant successful entrepreneur or academic or scientist you had to get training in the United States.”   

Ben Fountain on

 … immigration:

“The issue of immigration gets used for political mileage quite a bit. … All through history you look at the various groups who are stigmatized from the Irish to the Italians to Asians and on up through contemporary times with Donald Trump’s wall, which seems to be one of the defining principles of his campaign. So you could look at immigration as a litmus test and in a way as maybe a way of judging the health of the national psyche.”   

… why America is involved in other countries:   

“The United States made a fundamental decision in the wake of World War II that we were going to take a leading role in the reconstruction of Europe. And that became known as the Marshall Plan … It’s an investment in a certain kind of world order which redounds to our benefit, to the national benefit."