Angelo Codevilla of the Washington Examiner documents foreign countries’ changing approach to the United States.

The United States of America is still the world’s envy. Being born, or just living here, sets anyone at the peak of mankind’s pyramid in terms of food, comfort, freedom, and opportunity. Millions try to get here, and billions wish they could.

But America is no longer as respected as it was.

The problem isn’t the past 18 months, but the past 3 generations. The problem isn’t our current president’s intemperate mouth, but our long practice of imprudent intervention.

Film gives us a window. American movies are as pervasive as ever. Once, Gary Cooper and John Wayne projected the redoubtable image America had earned in WWII. Nobody would mess with the likes of them. Today’s Hollywood products project filth, violence, and impotence — an America of pretentious losers. Not long ago, Americans abroad were treated with special courtesy. Today, they are likelier to draw slights.

Respect, not envy, is the true measure of any nation’s standing, and America has lost respect. Our loss of respect is due substantially to changes over the past couple of generations in our own ruling class. How do we stand now, and what might it take to recover what has been lost?

America’s founders knew that respect is difficult to earn, easy to squander, and extraordinarily difficult to regain. To gain and keep respect among nations, their generation thought that America must stay out of others’ affairs while aggressively minding our own.