‘What is going on, you guys?’ US expats face tough questions abroad

From The Christian Science Monitor:

The American expat has enjoyed a storied position in culture and literature. In France, the role has been romanticized from Gene Kelly tap dancing his way through “An American in Paris” to Ernest Hemingway’s Paris-set “A Moveable Feast,” where he wrote, “There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris.” Numbering around 250,000, Americans in France tend to lean Democratic and enjoy elite status, says Oleg Kobtzeff, an associate professor of international and comparative politics at the American University of Paris. “So Americans in France are themselves examples of soft power.” It’s not that they’ve been universally loved. Former President George W. Bush’s war on terror, including the Iraq War of 2003 that many allies condemned, made him as unpopular in France as President Trump is today.

But disdain has been replaced with a new, distinct sentiment that Ursuline Kairson, a Chicago-born jazz singer who has lived in Paris for over 20 years, sums up succinctly: “Now they feel sorry for us.”

Americans are now banned from visiting many countries around the globe because of the coronavirus. The U.S.-Canada border, the world’s longest undefended frontier, has been closed to nonessential travel for seven months. That closure is symbolic of how frayed America’s relationships have become. Canadians have arguably been the strongest U.S. ally in modern times. “The Canadians were always the first to arrive for us,” says Bruce Heyman, a former United States ambassador to Canada under Barack Obama. He says that ties became strained under Mr. Trump, who imposed trade tariffs on national security grounds and called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced.” “I think Donald Trump’s done more damage to the U.S.-Canada relationship than any other single person maybe in the history of our two countries.”

More here.