Is an apt way of describing it. Having seen Americans get all riled up with shouts of “Do something!” only to forget what the problem was two or three weeks later, it seems that enthusiasm is a replacement for everything – persistence, knowledge, self-sacrifice – when it comes to solving other countries’ problems.
Make that self-sacrifice times two. Americans often look for ways to make themselves feel better without giving up much time or money or power, which is why the need to save is so often applied to other countries. Doing something about a problem that people live 20 minutes from means that they risk encountering the ugly truth that their own actions are responsible for other people’s suffering. If the entire goal is to feel better, you avoid that at all costs.
As a fellow college student explained to me just before the Iraq War, when someone needs America’s help, we should help them. Asking if they want our help or what kind of help they need, though, just isn’t done.