To travel internationally is to become increasingly unnerved by the way American culture pervades the world. We cringe at the new indoor Mlimani shopping mall in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We shake our heads at the sight of a McDonald’s on Tiananmen Square or a Nike factory in Malaysia. The visual landscape of the world has become depressingly familiar. For Americans the old joke has become bizarrely true: wherever we go, there we are.
We have the uneasy feeling that our influence over the rest of the world is coming at a great cost: loss of the world’s diversity and complexity. For all our...