n one of his last interviews, the historian Tony Judt lamented his “catastrophic” Anglo-American generation, whose cossetted members included George W Bush and Tony Blair. Having grown up after the defining wars and hatreds of the west’s 20th century, “in a world of no hard choices, neither economic nor political”, these historically weightless elites believed that “no matter what choice they made, there would be no disastrous consequences”.
A member of the Bush administration brashly affirmed its arrogance of power in 2004 after what then seemed a successful invasion of Iraq: “When we act,” he boasted, “we create our own reality.” A “pretty crappy generation”, Judt concluded, “when you come to think of it.”
One cannot but think of the reality it made as mayhem in Asia and Africa reaches European and North American cities. But those of us from countries where many Anglo-American institutions were once admirable models have their own melancholy reasons to reflect on their swift decay.