Strategy with Stratfor

Stratfor is the global intelligence consultancy that came to public prominence in 2011 when they were hacked by anonymous.

I didn’t pay them much mind beyond those news reports until recently, when I stumbled across a video called “The United Kingdom’s Geographic Challenge” via r/GeoPolitics on reddit. It’s only 2 minutes long and after watching it I was strikingly unimpressed, largely because it was made by Stratfor, and I therefore expected something pretty big in terms of insight, and which I felt was lacking. I scanned the reddit thread and found folks similarly unimpressed. I then read the Youtube comments, which I don’t often do. There was only one substantial exchange, between someone called Random Videos (RV) and someone called Zarrov. RV was unimpressed, Zarrov somewhat bluntly explained that RV was missing the context…

Thats why I said that I dismissed your comment. It would take too much time to explain basics. You just don’t understand strategy. You think in superficial, layman terms, thats “ability to amass invasion” means “omg, agression, they WANT to attack us”. Not so. The very existence of power warps relations with others. The most obvious mistake you make is to assume that history happens because of random events, and that it does not repeat itself. You do not ask yourself question why all states, despite changing times, regimes, technology, societies and leaders behaved in patterns. To think, that “well, today we are safe” and proejct (sic) that into the future is very basic mistake. — Zarrov
So I went back and watched it again. And then watched another 6 or 7 of them, for a range of different countries. And I found my opinion transformed, and not just in a subtle fashion. I found myself extremely impressed, and in receipt of the insight I had originally expected. Awesome.
The videos most certainly are about strategy, grand strategy. The strategy that is informed by that most immovable of fundamental factors, the geography of a nation. The videos are a mixture of the implications of various geographic realities, the relations they hold with the seat of power in a nation and a little of the history each nation has experienced.
I had originally dismissed the first one I watched, because it seemed to be a very basic history lesson. The 180 degree flip came from realising that the geographic factors that informed the UK’s strategy in times of empire, are still informing its strategy in today’s time of economic European union. The other videos are similarly impressive. Below I have posted the videos for the UK, France and Egypt as well as one explaining the importance of the Yangtze river in China. If like me you enjoy these you should also spend a happy hour or so scanning through their Youtube channel looking for others in the series.


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