Above The Fray

Arguably, there are two types of analysts and writers in the area of international affairs. For one, there are writers who base their analysis and writing on real experience and memory. And on the other hand, there are writers who base their analysis and writing on mere empiricism and guesswork. Obviously, experience and memory are superior to mere empiricism and guesswork. But the aim in analysis and writing about international affairs is to maintain a fine balance between experience and theory, and theory is derived in large part from taking the time to read and from rational inquiry which is free and self-guided. In essence, free and open rational inquiry is guided by curiosity and the questions that develop in our minds about the world around us. Some analysts and writers develop very good questions about the world around them based on their life experiences, and there are some analysts and writers who are not so good in developing questions. And as Kant said: “Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.”

Thus, a major part of the existential and phenomenological method which I have employed for my blog entails a balance between experience and theory. And at the heart of this blog was a major sacrifice, which amounts to passing on the opportunity to enter the murky world of military and intelligence in order to pursue the questions I had about the world around me. Plus, the motivations for entering the murky world of military and intelligence are motivations which I was not driven by or motivated by. There is an acronym for the basic drivers or motivations behind entering the murky world of military and intelligence, known as “MICE.” In turn, “MICE” stands for money, ideology, compromise, and ego.

Moreover, military and intelligence are supposed to be limited means to a clear end. Military affairs, military operations, and the world of intelligence are not supposed to be the ends and objectives. These things need to have clear political ends and clear political objectives, and in the end, they require wise and thoughtful political solutions. In the end, there were no rational or thoughtful political ends or objectives to two decades of corruption and warmongering in places like Afghanistan and the Middle East. Military and intelligence work over the course of the last two or three decades were spurred by mania, and in the end, mania does not end well.

Also, military and intelligence affairs are largely guided by impromptu actions, improvisations, and the element of surprise which cannot be planned and cannot be guided by books or texts. Thus, work in these complex fields cannot be void of rare and exclusive experiences and memory. Classes held at the ‘State Department’ for cultural immersion and language learning cannot take the place of lived experience and cultural intelligence, which are deeply rooted in the distant places that end up becoming the venues for Washington’s blind adventurism and costly ‘Flights of Fancy,’ to borrow from Andrew Bacevich. Thus, there are many analysts, so-called “intellectuals,” and writers who do not deserve the patronage and nurturing that they receive. I have fared well without any of the patronage and nurturing those other analysts, so-called “intellectuals,” and writers have received over the years.

Although being above the fray can be a lonely place, there is also a level of satisfaction which is derived from the fact that one’s intellectual and literary efforts are self-sustained, as opposed to having been nurtured or patronized by flawed individuals and groups whose efforts and life endeavors have now amounted to mere hollowness and superficiality. Many “analysts” and “pundits” have misled and misinformed people over the course of years and decades, and some of us had to emerge in order to clear things up and set the record straight.

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