Improving America’s Image Around the World
While those things are valuable in and of themselves, their impact on reshaping world opinion would be infinitesimal. There are six billion-odd people in the world and the fraction of them that we could possibly interact with in that way is negligible. Moreover, those who would participate in such exchanges would necessarily be from the elite classes who, for the most part, already have substantial contact with Americans and those who have met Americans.
The reason that America and Americans are so often viewed with hostility is that we’re a global leviathan that imposes our culture, value, and policy preferences on the world through the sheer dominance of our economy, entertainment industry, and military.
Some of the former great powers in Western Europe resent that a comparative young upstart has risen to those heights and/or think we’re reckless in the use of that power. Furthermore, our interests and theirs often simply clash.
In the developing world, a different set of problems exist. In some cases, we’ve supported oppressive dictators when doing so aligned with our larger strategic objectives such as containing Soviet Communism or fighting against Islamist terrorism. In others, our movies and music portray a decadent, wealthy society that’s sharply antagonistic to local mores. This is exacerbated by state controlled media that find the United States a convenient target for deflecting anger at the failure of the regime to provide basic services.
So, yes, expanded cultural exchange will persuade a few people that Americans, as people, are decent, hard working, and mean them no harm. It might also persuade a few Americans that more engagement with the world’s problems is in our interest. But it’s not going to change the basic facts of America’s place in the world.