One year ago today, with no strategy and no working knowledge of the blogosphere, I started this blog: Politics, Power, and Preventive Action. As I reread my first post, I was heartened to see that I characterized myself as “someone who is massively curious about foreign affairs” and concluded, “This should be fun!” Reflecting on this past year, blogging has been tremendously fun—although much more work than I had anticipated.
A few thoughts on the life of a blogger:
1) Even if you spend a long time researching and writing, blog posts are ephemeral. Even if you post in anticipation or reaction to a highly-publicized event, it has a shelf life of perhaps twenty-four hours. The only posts that do endure are informative, such as reading lists.
2) We have compiled 152 posts in 365 days (you do the math), and I’ve learned that there is no way to predict what people will find interesting, open, and—presumably—read. I’ve listed below the top five most-read posts, with “Airpower Turns 100” topping the charts by a factor of five over the runner-up.
3) Writing (or compiling) three posts per week requires a lot of writing, but also forecasting near-term news pegs as well as collecting the required research—all before actually sitting down and typing.
4) For me, the most rewarding aspect of blogging is aggregating and promoting the research and analysis of others. I have created several platforms with this in mind: “Ten Whats With…;” “Ask the Experts” that surveys smart people on important issues; the weekly roundup "You Might Have Missed;" and guest posts.
5) Without the help of interns and research associates to research and edit the posts—not to mention CFR’s communications team to help promote them—blogging would be tedious, less read, and less impactful (if that’s possible).
6) Since I spend most my time doing primary research and interviews, I read few blogs regularly. I am often impressed, however, by the analytical and informative quality of those that I do come across (I’ve listed some on my blogroll). Compared to ten years ago, it is a great time to be interested in foreign policy and national security issues. Given all of the great content available, I am grateful that you chose to read this blog as well. Thank you.
1) “Airpower Turns 100” (November 2, 2011)
2) “How to Attend a Talk: Etiquette for Students, Wonks, and Speakers” (December 5, 2011)
3) “Iran’s Nuclear Program: What Intelligence Would Suffice?” (January 9, 2012)
4) “How Risky Was the Osama bin Laden Raid?” (April 30, 2012)
5) “U.S. National Security Strategy: Rhetoric and Reality” (August 15, 2011)
Oldies But Goodies
“Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Program and Lessons for Iran” (March 5, 2012)
“When America Attacked Syria” (February 13, 2012)
“Predicting Future War: What H.G. Wells Got Right and Wrong” (December 27, 2012)
“Ask the Experts: Will America ‘Win’ in Afghanistan?” (April 3, 2012)
“Ask the Experts: Where Are the Women in Foreign Policy?” (March 8, 2012)
“Ask the Experts: What Would Iran Do With a Bomb?” (February 21, 2012)
“Iran’s Nuclear Program: What Intelligence Would Suffice?” (January 9, 2012)
“Who Can’t America Kill?” (September 6, 2011)
My Personal Favorites
“On Memorial Day” (May 29, 2011)
“How We Die” (September 27, 2011)
“America is a Safe Place” (February 24, 2012)