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QUOTABLE

Apathy is too weak a word for this attitude; it is active, angry disillusionment. At the same time, since we in the post-West live in quite peaceful, prosperous societies, with no Hitler or Stalin massing troops just down the road or across the water, most people feel there’s no great urgency about getting involved in debates about foreign policy. Except when there’s a dramatic issue, like Bosnia or the Iraq War, the effect is to leave the conduct of foreign policy to a small group of politicians and officials, influenced by lobbyists, journalists and pollsters.

This is dangerous. Men and women who have reached the top in politics often possess an impressive combination of qualities, amongst which being lucky is merely the most important one. But having a well-informed, enlightened, strategic approach to the rest of the world is not necessarily among those qualities. When you get a few glimpses into the way foreign policy decisions are made, you are left with a sense of mild incredulity that this is how the world is run. It is vital that we appreciate this simple truth about our rulers: half the time they really don’t know what they’re doing.

Timothy Garton Ash, "Free World"
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