There is a world of difference between the weekend sailor who observing the waves embarks with a map and a weather report and the seasoned mariner who knows the currents beneath the waves and can read in the winds and clouds the coming weather.
And a world away from either of them is the nearsighted novice who sets out in a leaky vessel and last year’s week’s weather report.
Which is about as apt an image of the architects of American foreign policy as I can conjure.
Michael Vlahos, who is, as his byline obliquely tells us, "principal professional staff at the National Security Analysis Department of The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory", is more like the reader of currents and clouds than otherwise.
The Fall of Modernity, in the current issue of The American Conservative, is breathtaking in its scope and depth. Mr Vlahos’ ability to fathom the currents and patterns of history, to
grasp the inner realities of rise and fall, of empire and its narratives, reads more like prophetic utterance than political commentary or historical analysis.
And I suspect those in power- or scrambling for power- are about as likely to welcome his dark meditation on our times as the blow-dried prophets of
prosperity are to quote the Lamentations of Jeremiah at length.
A heady brew indeed.