I’ve been watching the response to Adam Elkus recitation of issues of blogging on grand strategy. I have been following the writing of Adam since he was at Occidental College. I have been following many writers as they start out their careers for nearly 3 decades. I have been an academic since 2003, but I have been writing and studying technology strategy since the late 1980s. I have been studying technical exploitation strategy since the mid 1980s. When writers come along who seem to have a clue I am very interested. I am a person of no consequence, and in career cycle my chance of making it big was a long time ago. I chose to sit on the sidelines. Now, I play at the idea of getting out and running with the big dogs, but to be sure sitting where I am is just fine. So opinions vary and this is mine.
I’ve watched the careers of Tim Stevens, Thomas Rid, Peter W. Singer and others explode during the last decade of conflict. These young uber intellectuals came out of nowhere in the last five or six years to tilt at the windmills of policy and doctrine. Even the caustic Evegny Morozov launched a fusillade into the webtopian policy magnates. These youthful, brazen, and ever so stilted intellectuals are learning that wars end, and their bravado loses a bit of luster. Books and articles of how to be right, in the face of conflict, and diatribes of excess pale in the face of veterans and those who have served. The trimming of United States military expectations of adventurism is taking a toll on the blogosphere too.
Unlike the super hero version of bloggerman, the tenured high school history teacher by day, over muscled super war blogger by night Mark Safranski. These young intellectuals will need to flex, adapt, perceive opportunity and move on as society shifts to a pseudo interwar period. The challenge is when is the next conflict that they can spin up ancient texts from previous intellectuals finding themselves in the barren interwar periods?
Of all the young policy mavens ready to trot out their overwrought lexical analysis of other peoples writings. Only Adam Elkus moved on early and built a career around skill, acumen, and fusion of future past into a profession. Of all the neo-intellectuals of the last half-decade it was Adam Elkus that kept working hard to move past mere policy punditry into the world of future-now data analytics. That is not meant as a slam against the others. This different path opens Adams’ world too more than policy and sketchy strategic theorizing. I think Adam will be ready to go trans-disciplinary leaving his cohort behind.
Of the thousands of books in my library there are epochs of analysis and writing. Each epoch starts with a spark and ends with a cold dousing of reality. In my two areas I write about (low intensity conflict, and cyber conflict) I have seen each epoch rise, grow, and then diminish when key factors decreased. The Coindinistas lost to the big Army acquisition machine much like we figured it would. The Cyber Warfare trope will soon lose out to the reality of governments inability to acquire technology outside of the major contractors programs. The real problems in either domain are still existent but the young strat pack are not’ interested in tri-border terrorism or drug war manifestations of border skirmishes.
I imagine these youthful strat pack members, of which I only named a few, will move on as their careers advance. A few will go on to academic postings where they will become the old dogs with has been works, and trotted out early in the next escalating war. The next war will likely be a russo euro fusion of some type mixed with sino russo possibilities. If I was them I’d be writing articles early about that conflict schema. The old cold warriors that were the big dogs when I was learning have since gone off to retirement. Maybe these young guys will become the teachers to replace my teachers in strategy.
Whether they become the director of this or that I’m less worried. There is room enough for everybody to be a director just like every unemployed guy on LinkedIn is a CEO of his own company. The few that stay active in the volunteer realm of blogging like I imagine Mark Safranski will do are going to be a gold mine of content. The next time we have a war. I see where guys like Adam Elkus are going and I am not surprised nor upset. It is the way of growing into a career. Heck I am not even sure what my career will look like in the next year. I just know I will be keeping my eye on the maturing viewpoints of Adam and the remaining few of his strat pack buddies.
I will still be here when you all come back.