A theater of displacement, in which political energies that might otherwise have been expended in defending multiethnic society at home were directed instead at defending mythic multiculturalism far away. Bosnia became the latest bel espoir of a generation that had tried ecology, socialism, and civil rights only to watch all these lose their romantic momentum.
I remember the intellectual fashion for American decline in the 1970s. There was the stunning defeat of the U.S. In Vietnam, rioting in Detroit and Newark that suggested the social fabric was coming apart, talk of Rust Belt America unable to compete with the Japanese, and a sense the Russian bear was on the march.