Hardly ever before and probably never after his death, will we ever get to know up close a war field.
We will hardly again get to the point of complete mental breakdown reading the chronicles of a journalist, feeling vicariously how hundreds of Iranian men, women and children felt in their last moments as they plunged 35,000 feet to the sea from the sky alive. Nobody would describe with unflinching details of how the US warship USS Vincennes trained its missile tubes on a 747 passenger aircraft and pressed the fire button of the deadly SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles without batting the eye knowing very well it was a civilian passenger aircraft on a regular flight from Tehran to Dubai. And nobody would argue and chart out how the US flatly lied to the world about the incident.
We will never know again in painstaking details, that only Fisk could pen, of how Saddam Hussain was aided by US intelligence and how his wardogs pumped thousands of gallons of gasoline into the marshland, through which the Iranian soldiers were to push through, and then set alight the hellish inferno to burn alive thousands of soldiers in complete disregard of international law of war.
And then we would never know again how he would witness a most surreal event travelling in a freezing night on a ghostly hospital train carrying the injured Iranian soldiers from the front through the night-time desert north of Ahwaz with a load of victims of a ghastly crime - victims of Saddam Hussain's mustard gas attacks.
Sitting on a wooden bench in the train compartment and looking at a pale moon hanging on the horizon, Fisk could get a sweet smell and wonder where it came from.
Then he would go to the next bogie and find war casualties, young Iranian soldiers sitting in the dim yellow light of the cabin, damned to death and silently reading The Quran. They were holding swabs of cotton in their hands and coughing. Blood and pieces of their dissolving lungs were coming out with each cough – the effect of mustard gas poisoning. The sweet smell was that of mustard gas.
Fisk would panic and go inside his cabin and quickly open up the windows, because the gas oozing from their lungs would affect him as well.
It is with Fisk with whom we would walk to the dark battlefield of Iran as shells from the Iraqi forces would pour around us and enter a bunker to find scores of kids some aged as young as 13 or 14 with red bands tied around their heads. Each of them held The Quran in their hands, reciting from it.
They were waiting for the Zero Hour of their mission. A little later they would go out into the dark battle field on their fleet of trail bikes, riding out to the Iraqi line of defence like some demented demons. The mission would be one way. They will not return again. The Iraqis had strewn the ground with landmines and these kids would ride their bikes to blow up the mines and embrace death so that the Irani soldiers could safely charge into Iraq.
A horrified Fisk would ask the kids if they were scared of their death mission. They calmly held up The Quran and said when you believe in Allah, death becomes welcome.
It is with him that we would know how a journalist would earn the trust of the most wanted man on earth, Bin Laden. Just on a tipoff from an anonymous person he flew off to Kabul from Beirut where he lived and waited for days without the slightest idea of how on earth he would ever meet the man.
Then one night as he was lying on his bed he heard insistent clack-clack-clacks on the windowpane and opened to see a man in the dark who asked him to follow.
Without a word Fisk set out with the man to an unknown destination through the mountains. Then the car stopped and he was taken to a cave blindfolded.
There he waited and after a long time came the man in his white robe.
Laden looked at Fisk with a broad smile. "Mr Robert, one of our brothers had a dream. He dreamed that you came to us one day on a horse, that you had a beard and you were a spiritual person. You wore a robe like us. This means you are a true Muslim."
Fisk had the most terrifying moment of his life that night. He quickly said, "Mr Laden, I am here because I have credibility. The West will believe my stories because I practice independent journalism."
Laden understood and quickly changed the subject.
Fisk would interview him twice later.
Fisk's journalism was of that nature. Credibility and truthfulness were his weapons.
Once he was on the battlefield with the Iraqi soldiers after he had just left The Times of London and was working freelance for a radio.
The Iraqi soldiers had just fired salvoes in the direction of the Irani troops deployment and Fisk missed recording the sound. Without soundbites, radio reporting is useless.
So he asked the commander to fire a few more shells so that he could record the sound. The commander readily agreed and asked his troops to open the flak.
Seconds later, Fisk frantically ran to the commander and asked him to stop the firing. The commander looked puzzled and asked why.
Fisk said the shells might kill somebody on the other side and he would be responsible for those deaths. As a journalist he cannot do it.
The commander failed to understand his point and said how does it matter since his troops would start the salvos just a little later and many may die in the barrage. So why not now.
Fisk literally begged him to finally stop the firing.
With Fisk we would know how it feels to be caught in a crossfire on a rickety bridge and finally dash across with shells falling on water around and creating troughs.
And with him gone, we would never lie in a Baghdad hotel in the darkness and feel the shockwave of the US bombs hitting the city, writing how unjust that war had been.
And with him gone, we would probably never again know the Middle East in its true history and color and intrigues.
We would never smell the cedar trees of Lebanon while reading its sad slide into chaos and devastation.
When he visited the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in September 1982 after the horrific massacre carried out by the Christian militiamen commanded by Israel's Ariel Sharon, his story starts oh so innocuously with these lines: What we found inside the Palestinian camp at ten o'clock on the morning of September 1982 did not quite beggar description, although it would have been easier to re-tell in the cold prose of a medical examination.
A paragraph later, his detailed descriptions of piled up corpses, raped and killed women, dead children whose clothes were stretched tight against their tiny bodies because of bloating becomes unbearable. He was a reporter, a journalist, but even then he could not refrain from asking:
When does a killing become an outrage? When does an atrocity become a massacre? Or, put another way, how many killings make a massacre? Thirty? A hundred? Three hundred? When is a massacre not a massacre? When the figures are too low? Or when the massacre is carried out by Israel's friends rather than Israel's enemies?
That, I suspected, was what this argument was about. If Syrian troops had crossed into Israel, surrounded a Kibbutz and allowed their Palestinian allies to slaughter the Jewish inhabitants, no Western news agency would waste its time afterwards arguing about whether or not it should be called a massacre.
But in Beirut, the victims were Palestinians.
Fisk would ask similar questions again and again, sparing no one, not the highflying players of the superpowers spewing tawdry and banal advice and observations on democracy and human rights, nor the obscenely rich Sheikhs and Kings and despots of the Middle East. Not even the corrupt Palestinian leaders were spared from his scrutiny. But the world of journalism will be poorer now because nobody is there to document how the imperial powers have pulverized a region, demonised a helpless people, and looted it.
His writings are the greatest documents recording the global treachery plotted and committed from a position of imperial hubris of the superpowers that have destroyed the mid-east region, the cradle of civilisation, and the birthplace of three Abrahamic religions, nestling in its heart the holiest places of those three beliefs; killed millions, demonised helpless men, women, and children, destroyed its art, culture and legacy and created a world order to loot their resources at will with impunity.
Robert Fisk was one of the last of the reporters, journalists of the classical school to whom truth, objectivity, integrity and above all, empathy mattered. There is nobody left now to write about this unjust world in this era of five-second sound bites, twitters and tick-tock videos.
Nobody has time to read in-depth analysis of events anymore. All everybody needs now is to find a way to channelise their hates. Everything else is fake.