A realist’s view of world events

Strategic Forecasting Inc., AKA Stratfor, analyzes world events for clients like Fortune 500 companies and individual subscribers.  You can get a free taste of Stratfor’s analysis in the Stratfor daily podcast (website, feed).

Stratfor’s analysts look at the world through the lens of the “realist” tradition — a way of thinking about the world that runs from Thucydides in ancient Greece through Machiavelli in Renaissance Italy to Henry Kissinger in our own day. (see earlier post: A do-it-yourself international relations course.)

It’s especially illuminating to tune in to Stratfor when some geopolitical crisis is playing out.  In yesterday’s podcast, Stratfor’s president and founder George Friedman gives an assessment of Russia’s current game plan in Georgia.  Bottom line:

  • The US and its allies have been taking Russian passivity for granted because Russia has not acted militarily beyond its borders since the Afghan wars of the 1970s and 1980s.  This was a major miscalculation.
  • In the 1990s President Clinton assured the Russians that the US would not move to expand NATO membership into the states of the former Soviet Union.  The United States reneged on that deal by including the Baltic states in NATO, and the Russians are announcing they will not tolerate any additional NATO expansion.
  • The invasion of Georgia is an object lesson to the states of Russia’s periphery. The message: don’t rely on the US, which is militarily tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan and cannot offer meaningful military help.

Another freebie at the Stratfor website is a weekly column by George Friedman.

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