In Tunis, America’s 242ndbirthday was seemingly as it always is. KFC and beer, bunting, and fairy lights on trees at the US Embassy.

But there was a feverish gaiety about it all, a spreading sense that the world is changing faster than anyone could have imagined, and there is much to worry about.

Everyone was very polite, of course. No one mentioned children separated from their parents at the border, insults heaped on Muslims, migrants, Mrs Merkel of Germany, and other such distressing matters. No one mentioned, though they might have, this blog from the USC Centre on Public Diplomacy.

As it says:

At first, the image of the Trump administration abroad was explained by its simplistic and mistaken view of international trade, the WTO and tariffs. A devaluing of diplomacy, expertise and even science.

But now the list of problems includes images of crying babies separated from their parents by U.S. border police.

A country’s image in the world also depends on how it deals with its own citizens and with those who seek refuge from terror and oppression.

In case you don’t click on the link, it’s reproduced in full on my website.

Originally published at on July 5, 2018.

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on email me at

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