Known Unknowns – A Confession and Reflection

It’s been five months since I started this blog, so a check-in on my thoughts since my first post seems in order. Now, I don’t often do this, but something was brought up to me yesterday, and I felt the need to address it in longer form than just a tweet. What I’m about to say goes against most standards of the Internet, I feel, but it has to be said: I don’t know everything. Man. It feels good to get that off my chest.

The fact of the matter is that it’s difficult to write about foreign policy and national security matters when you are 100% sure of the fact that you don’t know everything that’s going on with the topic you’re discussing. To be 100% sure that what you’re writing is accurate, you need one of three things, I feel. You need to have the access where you’re in the room during the meetings where these matters are discussed; you need to have the level of clearance that you are working directly on some of these issues; or you have sources that have access to one of the first two. I am currently at the level where none of those things is applicable to me. And I’m okay with that. For now. Ideally, the last of those is the one that I would want to really develop if I’m going to keep writing in this style. Thanks to everyone in the Twitterverse, and the amazing people I’ve had the fortune of meeting in the real world, I’m slowly getting to the point where I’d feel comfortable actually interviewing experts and soliciting people’s thoughts on matters in intellectual cold-calls. For now though, it’s mostly me here.

So what I produce on this blog is the product of what I’ve learned over the years, what open source material and scholarly works I can get my hands on and wrap my head around, and me attempting to put these things together and connect links into coherent arguments. As it is the result of imperfect knowledge, sometimes I’m wrong. But as Bradbury put it in Fahrenheit 451, “If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn”. So I put it out there, and see if the thoughts that have managed to be extracted from my head and placed onto the screen make sense.

That’s where you, the reader, comes in.  I need you to hit me. As hard as you can. If you come across this blog and find things that are blatantly wrong? Let me know. I’d much rather be forced to confront that I was mistaken than go forward in life possessing a false idea. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn out I’m right, and you can find yourself corrected. Funny how the Internet works like that. Or should, at least. For the record, this post isn’t about any one thing I’ve written in particular. Just an overall need to take a second and reflect on the nature of writing at this level. I’ve always strived to, and will continue to, put forward only material that I feel confident in. And I think I’ve definitely come a long way since August when I first became bold enough to click “publish”. I just wanted to make sure that, while I like to think I know what I’m talking about, nobody got the opinion that I considered myself the definitive voice on things I write about. I’m definitely learning, though.


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