Attitude Over Policies
Mark Steyn’s astute observation is applicable to much more than foreign affairs:
Increasingly, the Western world has attitudes rather than policies. It’s one thing to talk as a means to an end. But these days, for most midlevel powers, talks are the end, talks without end. Because that’s what civilized nations like doing — chit-chatting, shooting the breeze, having tea and crumpets, talking talking talking. Uncivilized nations like torturing dissidents, killing civilians, bombing villages, doing doing doing. It’s easier to get the doers to pass themselves off as talkers then to get the talkers to rouse themselves to do anything. And, as the Iranians understand, talks provide a splendid cover for getting on with anything you want to do. If, say, you want to get on with your nuclear program relatively undisturbed, the easiest way to do it is to enter years of endless talks with the Europeans over said nuclear program. That’s why that Hamas honcho endorsed Obama: They know he’s their best shot at getting a European foreign minister installed as president of the United States.
One gets the sense that, for too many Westerners, the important thing isn’t so much to solve problems or to make good things happen as it is to feel the right feelings and think the right thoughts. And if vanity is the target, then self-expression — talking — is the medium via which to hit it.