If we have learned anything during this age of speedier and increasingly numerous interactions between peoples with different historical experiences, it is that facts matter less than perceptions, especially perceptions formed by raw emotions. It is what people believe that is crucial, not what they actually know. What is needed, therefore, beyond guiding philosophical principles, is a vivid appreciation of just what's out there, in the form of myths, passions, and irrationalities that in any age are central to decision making and, in a larger sense, to the human spirit itself. Romance, rather than being antithetical to realism, is a necessary component of it.
Robert Kaplan, in the January/February 2007 Atlantic.