the confusion of image and reality. Even in the world of 2010, power still matters. Violence settled quarrels. Individual men are greedy for power. Revolutionaries seek state power in order to transform fundamentally their societies. Regimes aggress against their neighbors. Power is respected.
And yet the idea has taken hold in most Western governments that what is most important is image. If we are nice to our enemies we will win them over. If we are popular we will avoid trouble. If we apologize we will be forgiven. If we tell everyone we are weak we will be pitied. If we sympathize with the underdog, even one that wants to be the overdog and maul us to death, we will be noble and thus succeed.
It is a world in which Senator Barbara Boxer can say, "Our national security experts...tell us that carbon pollution leading to climate change will be, over the next 20 years, the leading cause of conflict, putting our troops in harm's way...." Now even if you believe that "carbon pollution" is an important global problem that needs to be addressed, is this the way to think about it? Forget about the ambitions of Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, and revolutionary Islamists and terrorists, the real cause of war is going to be carbon pollution?
Well, she is from California after all, but Boxer is expressing the zeitgeist (spirit of the age) also, though even "national security experts" don't talk like that. (Theory: She is reflecting Obama's national security doctrine and the White House-influenced Department of Defense Quadrennial Report which barely mentioned real-world threats.)
In short, what we are seeing is the abandonment of realpolitik and in a real sense of the real world itself.