After all, the past is our only real guide to the future, and historical analogies are instruments for distilling and organizing the past and converting it to a map by which we can navigate.
American influence in the world is certainly considerable, but the United States does not control, directly or indirectly, the politics and economics of other societies, as empires have always done, save for a few special cases that turn out to be the exceptions that prove the rule.
Certainly, protecting oppressed people, stopping ethnic conflict and promoting responsible governance are worthy goals. But none is as important for American security and prosperity as keeping the peace in the Middle East, Europe and East Asia.
If architecture is, as is sometimes said, music set in concrete, then football and basketball may be said to be creativity embodied in team sports.
In my experience, it's not just that serious books get a hearing on comedy shows. But serious books get a serious hearing, as well as a funny one, on comedy shows.
Read the news section of the newspaper and there is confusion and uncertainty, a world buffeted by large forces people neither understand nor control. But turn to the sports section and it's all different.
The cardinal sin in sports, what could really wreck it, is not cheating to win, which has gone on forever, but cheating to lose. That threatens a fundamental aspect of sports' appeal, which is their spontaneity. If games are fixed, they're no different from movies they're scripted.
The great thing about baseball is the causality is easy to determine and it always falls on the shoulders of one person. So there is absolute responsibility. That's why baseball is psychologically the cruelest sport and why it really requires psychological resources to play baseball - because you have to learn to live with failure.
The United States contributes to peace in both by serving as a buffer between and among regional powers that, while not preparing for armed conflict, do not fully trust one another.
The values, the programs, the formula, the determination, and the patriotism responsible for America's past success are still here to be tapped.
The war on terror, I believe, will be waged by effective intelligence and police work and cruise missiles.
Words matter, especially words defining complicated political arrangements, because they shape perceptions of the events of the past, attitudes toward policies being carried out in the present, and expectations about desirable directions for the future.