En poetisk beskrivelse av Amerika etter 911 av en inder, som pleide å reise til USA, men som nå får mindre og mindre lyst, for hver gang passkontrollen spør: -Hva skal du her.

Det er historien om de små skritt, om de velmente skritt, Thomas L. Friedman tar for seg: de som lever i USA ser det kanskje ikke, men utlendinger reagerer. Det gjør også innbyggerne i land der den amerikanske ambassaden minner om en festning eller et fengsel. Friedman oppsummerer inntrykkene som fikk ham til å forstå at USA skaper et inntrykk som legger avstand til omgivelsene:

In part it is the awful barriers that now surround the U.S. Embassy in London on Grosvenor Square. «They have these cages all around the embassy now, and these huge concrete blocks, and the whole message is: ‘Go away!’ » said Kate Jones, a British literary agent who often walks by there. «That is how people think of America now, and it’s a really sad thing because that is not your country.»

In part it was a conversation with friends in London, one a professor at Oxford, another an investment banker, both of whom spoke about the hassles, fingerprinting, paperwork and costs that they, pro-American professionals, now must go through to get a visa to the U.S.

In part it was a recent chat with the folks at Intel about the obstacles they met trying to get visas for Muslim youths from Pakistan and South Africa who were finalists for this year’s Intel science contest. And in part it was a conversation with M.I.T. scientists about the new restrictions on Pentagon research contracts – in terms of the nationalities of the researchers who could be involved and the secrecy required – that were constricting their ability to do cutting-edge work in some areas and forcing intellectual capital offshore. The advisory committee of the World Wide Web recently shifted its semiannual meeting from Boston to Montreal so as not to put members through the hassle of getting visas to the U.S.

America’s DNA