Ideas are important, and, of course, actions are. But interviews are rude. Any child will let you know this when pumped about what he did in school that day. And imagine interviewing your spouse at breakfast: "What's your opinion of passing the toast? How do you feel about the eggs you made? Will we stay married?" On the other hand, conversation is good, even if—or especially when—it's polite conversation.
I talked to the Secretary of State in his office on June 21, 2004. In the January/February issue of Foreign Affairs he'd written, "The sources of national strength and security for one nation need no longer threaten the security of others. Politics need not always be a zero-sum competition." "Zero-sum," a term from game theory, means any gain to you is a loss to me.
—P. J. O'Rourke
P. J. O'ROURKE: Zero-sum thinking is an obsession of mine, but mostly in economics. I'd never heard the concept applied to foreign affairs. I got excited about that. I've got little kids. They regard everything as zero-sum.
SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, most of my career was in a zero-sum world—us versus the Russians. Zero-sum kind of takes you to places like Vietnam. The domino theory is a form of zero-sum thinking. My whole life, especially as a senior officer, we were always focusing on having to have the better tank, and they would immediately start working on a better tank than our better tank, and of course then we'd have to have a better tank than their better tank, and everything was zero-sum.