That hackneyed argument that "Only a teeny weeny percentage of US citizens have passports, and THAT's why US foreign policy is so bad!" is such utter bollocks.
1. Passports are expensive.
Up to $165, to be precise.
2. Foreign travel is REALLY expensive.
Unless you happen to live near the Mexican or Canadian border, you're
looking at a long-haul flight, another several hundred dollars. Add in
accommodation and holiday spends and you're probably looking at around
3. America is fucking massive.
British people sneering at USians, using lazy kneejerk jibes to tell off
their transatlantic cousins for being so insular and parochial, seem to
imagine that foreign travel - for everyone, no matter where they live
in the world - is as easy as booking a £25 Ryanair flight to Budapest or
hopping on the Eurostar for a dirty weekend in gay Paris.
4. The stats quoted are usually plain wrong.
I've seen figures ranging from 30% down to 3.5%, but State Department figures show that around 42% of US citizens have passports - not counting the millions of immigrants, the vast majority of whom have passports by definition.
5. Who's making policy?
Sure, popular opinion has an impact on government figures, but that
government is overwhelmingly made up of people with high levels of
disposable income - those who can afford to go on fancy trips to Europe
and the Caribbean and Asia and even the Middle East.
6. What policy?
Over the last couple of hundred years, there have been two competing
impulses in US foreign policy: interventionist and isolationist. Those
who want to Make The World Safe For Democracy by punching dictators in
the face with intercontinental ballistic missiles, and those who want to
encourage the world to become free by being a "city on the hill", a
shining example for others to follow. (You can argue about the purity of
motives for intervention, and indeed for isolationism, obvs.)
Auto-anti-Americans using the passport argument are almost always complaining about interventionist
policies. Surely a nation of people who can't be bothered to get
passports or go overseas, who think that the US has everything and more
than the rest of the world can offer, would be more inclined to an isolationist standpoint?
And when Americans do get it together to get a passport and make
it to London, are we nice and welcoming, congratulating the intrepid
travellers on their international spirit? Are we fuck. We bitch and moan
about their pronunciation of Leicester Square ("Lye-chester! Hohoho!
It's such an obvious intuitive spelling, only a colonial dolt could get
it wrong!"), about the fact that they have the dashed temerity to take
pictures of themselves outside Harrods, about their unpardonable
rudeness in not having been born with a tube map tattood on their brains
and thus occasionally having to ask for directions.
Basically, we're quite smug in the notion that Britain/England/London is
the best place on earth, and also get really pissed off when people
want to visit.
There's this nasty tendency in the British left to snigger across the
pond, taking some cold comfort and a sense of superiority from the
failures, both real and perceived, of US culture and politics.
"LOL no passports!" Because poor US citizens should be blamed both for
the fact that they can't afford a thousand dollar holiday, and for
"LOL their healthcare is terrible!" Because it's not like the Tories are privatising the NHS or anything.
"LOL they're fat!" Because... oh god, I can't even go there.