When politicians and military leaders from the United States use terms like 'liberty', 'democracy' and 'freedom' when pushing their national foreign policy the rest of the world quietly laugh and carry on about their business. Had such speeches been made before the landings at Normandy or at the Siege of Berlin they may have invoked a rousing "hurrah" from America's old allies and at least a grudging look of respect from its rivals. However, there has been a distinct, and well documented, change in US foreign policy since the affront caused by 9/11. However, it is not necessarily the very non-liberal activities of the US that has caused the cynicism in others but, rather, the failure of American policy-makers to update the propaganda that accompanies these actions.
What with NSA activities, both in their own country and abroad, drone attacks in Yemen, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cuban detention camps, black sites and assassinations the US has lost all credibility as champions of the free and the deliverers of democracy. As Andrew O'Hehir points out in his insightful article on America's support for authoritarian regimes, "Actions speak louder than words, and America’s real foreign policy has been to subvert democracy at every turn, replacing untrustworthy elected governments with compliant military strongmen wherever possible."
It is clear that the US has abandoned all pretext of supporting democracy and, therefore, it needs to change the way it interacts with the world. The term 'propaganda' has been given bad connotations by modern democracies, only spoken of in connections to authoritarian regimes like North Korea and Syria. However, considering that it is the use of targeted information to influence others, it is a policy choice taken by all governments including the United States.
The US must change its stance on the world stage, become more pragmatic in the propaganda it utilizes so that it can begin to fix the damage of two decades of poor PR. It has not only failed to uphold the interests of the democracy it seeks to promote but failed to sell such failures to the rest of the world. On the national and individual level much of the world has lost respect for the United States, except in-so-far as respect is given to the school-yard bully. For the US to remain dominant it must have friends, to have friends it must begin to communicate correctly with its peers. How it chooses to do that is up to it but one thing is clear, the time of the 'Leader Of The Free World' has come and gone.