Most of what people write and say about international relations is sheer claptrap. That is especially true when diplomats and distinguished journalists convene. Get yourself on the international rubber chicken circuit and you will soon discover a world of pompous gasbags relentlessly pounding their audiences with barrages of platitudes. Worse, you may start flapping your lips at a conference one day and discover that while you are making noise, and everyone is nodding sagely, you aren’t saying anything at all.
There are whole bureaucracies devoted to whomping up air soufflés: to making utterly worthless and pointless exercises in international jet setting look like serious events. Visits of heads of state are particularly fertile terrain for the political equivalent of cotton candy: brightly-dyed insignificance spun out to occupy the largest possible space with the smallest conceivable amount of real matter.(more…)