Dan Drezner spent the past week guest lecturing at the Barcelona Institute for International Studies and reports back:
One mildly surprising finding from surveying my students was the extent to which many of them believed that the United States government was consciously manipulating every single event in world politics. Ironically, at the moment when many Americans are questioning the future of U.S. hegemony, many non-Americans continue to believe that the U.S. government is diabolically manipulating events behind the scenes (For example, the Ghanaians in the crowd wanted to know why Obama visited their country last week. The standard "promotion of good democratic governance" answer did not satisfy them, They were convinced that there had to be some deeper, potentially sinister motive to the whole enterprise).
Actually, the United States probably is trying to manipulate every single event in world politics. Dan's students were right about that. The part they're missing is that they don't understand just how bad we are at it. Answer: really bad.