This posting will be slightly different. I spent spring break back-packing around Argentina and would like to reflect on some conversations I had with people from other countries and explain why I think these conversations are relevant to US foreign policy. I stay in youth hostels. The youth hostel crowd is typically very diverse, very smart, very talkative and, unlike a proper dinner table, very willing to talk politics. This particular trip highlighted three things that I think are quite important. First, America is perceived as united. In the eyes of the rest of the world the US is not divided by red and blue, east and west, north or south, we are just one giant red bull, tramping about the globe hitting things when we do not like. I lost count of how many times a fellow traveler remarked, "But you don't sound like you're American". This perception is a dangerous one. It makes America an easy target for politicians who see anti-American rhetoric as an expedient path to the top of the political pile. Second relative to other developed countries, America is underrepresented in the youth hostel scene. While the Europeans, the Brits, The Scandinavians, the Aussies, the Israelis, and the Kiwis were all out in droves I met precious few Americans. If you believe that perceptions matter (and I do) than the lack of young Americans abroad is a problem. In the first place, it contributes to problem number one. That America is giant red bull tromping about the globe. However, it also limits the Americans. If our only perception of the French is what we see on TV, if our perceptions of Australians are based on the "croc hunter" then America will approach the negotiating table uniformed, biased, and unprepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow. There is also a more subtle problem here as well. American young people are not forming relationships with people from abroad. We are not hearing the "street" level stories and do not understand what I call street politics. That is, the politics being discussed in coffee houses, bars, and at the water cooler. In the future, we will not have trusted friends abroad with whom to discuss problems of international politics. In short, we are limiting our worldview to one that few other nations share. Most Americans do not have a passport. This was one of the most widely discussed and mysterious fact among the international crowd. How could eighty percent of a population not even have a passport. Was it arrogance? Did Americans feel that Europe had nothing to offer? Were Americans afraid of traveling abroad? Or had the country (founded on the pioneer spirit) simply lost its fire, content to sit at home and travel through our television set, and computers. This single fact was at once the most offensive and most baffling thing for the great majority of foreign travelers. Finally, Entering America has become exceedingly difficult. No longer do our boarders cry out "give us your hungry, your tired, your weak" but rather "get out, stay out, we have no interest in anything you could possibly say. This last point is best illustrated by a brief anecdote. I flew all night from Buenos Ares to Washington DC. At six in the morning after ten hours of cramped seats and crying babies every foreigner was shuffled off into a separate line where one customs agent systematically, finger printed and photographed every person. The line must have taken three hours. All I could think of was "Welcome to America...Please go home" I spoke to a Canadian who said attaining an American work visa had become just short of impossible. I have now outlined the problem, namely, a lack of cultural exchange. I have a solution though and it is one that is not terribly costly. It comes in two parts. First, when you turn eighteen a passport should automatically be issued. This would not be difficult as all the information needed to attain a passport is already collected when you are required to register for the draft. The only additional thing would be a picture. Second, begin what I call American adventure for a smarter tomorrow. This program would offer a plane ticket and a few thousand dollars to any high school graduate with a B average or above. This would get the smartest (most likely future leaders) young people out into the world. They would begin forming those ever-important relationships mentioned in problem two. It would also dispel the notion that America is one giant hegemonic bull tromping through the world mentioned in problem one. It would also expand Americas worldview and improve America's understanding of the way the world actually functions. Lastly, reopen the boarders. Immigrants built America. It was made great by immigrants. It is a country of immigrants. If we now begin closing our boarders, excluding those very people that have been at the center of American innovation for her entire short life, then we cease to be what we are. We cease to be America and become instead some alien thing. A powerful beast with no understanding of what or who it is. We squash the American dream, extinguish the beacon and bulldoze the hill. In closing our boarders, we deny who we are. So at the risk of our own security, but in the interest of our identity, we must open our boarders, issue more visas and once again welcome the down trodden of the world to come and live the American dream.