I recently read two articles from Victor Davis Hanson's website: Tough Idealism and Holy Wisdom. The first is a response to those who would call the war in Iraq a mistake (even after having supported it three years ago). The second is a reflection on the pope's visit to Turkey.
What both have in common is a helpful removal from the immediate.
Establishing democracy in Iraq is not an easy task. It is an ideal that will be realized only with much time, effort, and blood...if at all. The "if at all" should not be a discouragement. If the possibility of failure deters us from acting then we have become the opposite of "tough idealists": cynical realists.
The article on the pope's visit draws attention to the history of Istanbul/Constantinople and attitudes to that history. Many in the West refuse to see in history any significance or relevance and live in a present of tolerance and respect. Tolerance and respect are not bad things unless, as the author alleges, they are masks for fear and blindness.
Both articles have the same diagnosis: there's a lack of vision in the West. We find it difficult to believe in our own ideals and have trouble finding the will to implement them.