But if you've met one U.S. president you've met…one US president. Like it or not, foreign policy is a solely owned subsidiarity of our president and I don't know why any other country would be foolish enough to think that there is a standard U.S. response to anything. That our country could go from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan shows that we're not monolithic or have anything resembling a stable reputation.
Russia, for example, would be stupid to treat the United States as an entity apart from the US President, as far as how it affects them. The POTUS owns the military, the State department, and most of the organs of influence. If Russia has taken the measure of the man or woman in the White House, then they have taken the measure of the situation. Reputation of the country is a joke; individuals have reputations, the U.S. doesn't.
All too often I tend to think that what is demanded of us is less than what was demanded of prior generations. I feel a false sense of security based on previous eras' sacrifices; there's a temptation to live off the capital.
For example, before Obama and now Trump, I felt way too complacent about the safeguards the Founding Fathers put around democracy, thinking that these safeguards were failsafe. And yet that ignores their own warnings that America's republic would depend on the virtues of the citizenry, not the system of checks and balances. And Obama has shown how relatively easy it is for the executive branch to become dictatorial, especially when you have an utterly divided and cowed legislative, and a judicial that is more concerned about reputation than anything (witness Justice Roberts tortured reasoning concerning Obamacare).
Similarly, there's no way to think that Christ was crucified in our place, or that we can rest on the spiritual capital of the saints. We see around us no substitute for sanctity.
It seems like there's a huge tension implicit in the thinking of Pope Francis and others on the world as we now have it. Francis surely signs on to the principle of subsidiarity and local control as much as possible, but in a world that is utterly interconnected how do you even have local control? Superbugs, Zika virus, pollution, etc… don't respect national boundaries. A one-world government is politically unfeasible, but I have a hard time seeing how Francis can't not want it, given it's the only way to have success with his huge pet issues, like the environment and the economy.