The other issue you decry is our support of authoritarian regimes in China, Saudi Arabia, etc. The number-one concern of our elected officials should always be the safety and well-being of all Americans for the long term. If Saudi Arabia collapsed, or worse, I am afraid neither one of us would have much time for writing while trying to stay warm. The scarier one is how to deal with China. I listened to an English journalist describe how easy it is to go from a capitalistic democracy to totalitarian socialism, and how difficult it is to reverse the process. His analogy was making a fish stew out of an aquarium, and vice versa. He was very concerned about the turmoil in the former Soviet Union and thought we could wake up one morning to an extremely nationalistic Slavic state, i.e., Nazis with nuclear weapons. I was very pleased when Clinton withstood the emotional urging of conservatives for sanctions against China. It was the intelligent thing to do, as China is becoming more and more economically intertwined with the west, thus making wars unviable.
There seems to be somewhat of a consensus that it is much easier (and safer) to go back to capitalism under a strong authority and let democracy come of its own accord after people are not spending every waking minute trying to feed themselves and their families.
I liked your comment that "democracy is not a spectator sport."