The spectre of decline has long haunted America. This long-misplaced narrative 1 is now, with the rise of China, becoming a reality, at least in relative terms. 2 The most commonplace explanations for America’s relative decline and China’s rise are divergent economic growth rates and the loss of American resources, lives and standing as a result of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. However, for other analysts the diminishing of America’s power globally has strong domestic roots: George Packer blames inequality, 3 Fareed Zakaria the political system, 4 and Ed Luce falling educational standards amongst an array of other domestic problems. 5 The president of the influential Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass brought all of these concerns together succinctly in his book Foreign Policy Begins at Home. 6 Another discernible, although underdeveloped, jeremiad zeros in on the American people with the idea that Americans never effectively adjusted to the post-Cold War world of globalisation but instead took a “holiday from history”. 7 In other words, it is argued that the American people are particularly uninterested in international affairs and in the age of globalisation this has become America’s Achilles’ heel. 8 It is this last thesis that this chapter will interrogate by expanding our understanding of how domestic factors influence US foreign policy-making. The chapter will specifically examine the impact of public ignorance and insularity on the quality of US decision-making. In the last two decades or so state-centric approaches to international relations have rightly been challenged by work that places a greater emphasis on how public opinion, identity, and culture shape foreign policy. 9 These bourgeoning areas of scholarship have so far included only a small number of studies on the impact of ignorance. 10 This chapter will first examine popular understandings of American ignorance. It is commonplace for non-Americans to believe Americans are particularly ignorant about the rest of the world. The ignorant American is a widely recognised stereotype in conversations and comedy about Americans. The second section of the chapter will ask whether this stereotype is fair. The scholarly evidence on this question is limited but not at all flattering regarding American knowledge. The third section of the chapter will argue that the “ugly American” stereotype is facile and exaggerated. Unfortunately one of the few books to examine this stereotype, Loch Johnson’s Seven Sins of American Foreign Policy, is rather careless with the evidence on American ignorance. 11 The last section of the chapter will examine why the “ugly American” stereotype is powerful but often exaggerated, leading to anti-Americanism.