So again, I keep coming back to the same point: "imagining the bad guy" is a fun game to play for some, but as soon as you start with the premise of, "So, there are these bad guys, and they want to GET ME", you're already off telling your story. You've already veered away from the truth. And while you're fighting the bogeyman, the real problem is sneaking up behind you (if it's not already inside your own head).
I think there is value in considering potential risks ahead of time and determining possible responses. Considering such risks includes a measure of their likelihood of happening. Thus the reference to Jared Diamond's article (and book).
If your point is that this can be exagerated and lead to creating alternative realities according to your own psychological tendencies, then sure I agree - but it's still a useful exercise.
On a related note, I was interested to see this about the value of reading and thinking about issues before encountering them.
The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men's
experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others' experiences, generally a
better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of
incompetence are so final for young men.
Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun.
For all the "4th Generation of War" intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of
war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc, I must respectfully say… "Not
really": Alex the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right
now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying
(studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us.
Not just applicable to those in the military.