Strategic Forecasting, Inc., more commonly known as Stratfor, is a private intelligence company founded in 1996 in the United States. George Friedman is founder, chairman and Chief Intelligence Officer of the company.
Stratfor's client list is confidential, but the group claims it "includes Fortune 500 companies and major government agencies." On a previous version of Stratfor's home page the company identified government agencies as among its customers - the New Zealand Police was one example given.
Currently Stratfor's products are oriented around individual subscriptions, of which the 'Premium' product is the most comprehensive in content offered. Other packages, such as 'Global Vantage', are tailored to appeal to commercial or governmental customers. They feature regional and customisable intelligence whereby users are able to partake in monthly teleconferences with Stratfor's founder, Dr. George Friedman, and have the option of e-mailing Stratfor's analysts with a "guaranteed response within 24 hours Monday - Friday" . It is worth noting that some of Stratfor's work remains available free to the public .
Stratfor has published a daily intelligence briefing since the late 1990s, which has generally been well received by its audience. Its rise to prominence occurred during the 1999 NATO air-strikes over the Kosovo issue while Stratfor's services were still free to the public. Before the end of 1999, however, Stratfor had introduced a subscription service through which it offered the majority of Stratfor's analyses. At the time of September 11, Stratfor made its 'breaking news' paragraphs, as well as some notable analyses predicting likely actions to be taken by al-Qaeda and the Bush Jr. administration available freely to the public. Interestingly, according to contemporary Stratfor analyses shortly after the events of September 11, Stratfor believed that it was highly likely al Qaeda had planned subsequent attacks on targets inside the continental United States (although it was emphasised that it was highly unlikely that any would approach the complexity of those seen on September 11).
Failures and criticisms
In the late 1990s, Stratfor repeatedly predicted that due to, among other things, domestic pressure, the People's Republic of China would make an overt military strike against the Republic of China on Taiwan, including possible missile strikes and a move against ROC-held islands off the coast of the mainland. None of these predictions came true. They also failed to predict the reaction of European and world economies to the introduction of the Euro.
Ignoring Stratfor's intelligence failures, possible criticisms of Stratfor's offerings include their commercial nature - they are attempting to attract customers through accurate interpretation and predictions, and as such do not appear to be willing to revise their position on issues or to accept fault. Additionally, their intelligence is based strongly around American interests with regions such as Southeast Asia receiving scant attention. Al Giordano, details what he calls "20 Stratfor Lies about Latin America":
- Stratfor is one of these snake-oil disinfo sales firms that traffics in "intelligence briefings" for people gullible enough to pay for them. Imagine that: you can get lied to for free all over this great land, but some people actually pay to be deceived!
- Stratfor's track record in Latin America is abhorrent (how many years in a row did it predict that Hugo Chavez would not survive that year as Venezuela's president?). It's "spin" is ideological: pro-corporate, which is no surprise, given that it's undisclosed clientele purchases something called "Business Intelligence Services."
- In my opinion, Stratfor engages in circulating disinformation into the datasphere through its free and paid email memos in ways that seem aimed to help the agendas of that very same corporate world that contracts its services.
In March 2004, Bart Mongoven from Stratfor's Washington D.C. office appeared on a panel - Strategies for Dealing with Environmental Litigation - at the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. (Also appearing on the panel were Marc Sisk, Dorsey & Whitney, Washington, DC and Stephen Brown from The Dutko Group LLC).
Mongoven warned industry leaders about the increasing collaboration between environmental groups and patients groups on the issue of exposure to chemicals. Washington D.C. trade magazine, Inside EPA, reported Mongoven told the NPRA that "in five years, the environmental community would like to see all debates [be about] the environment and health." Mongoven nominated Collaborative on Health and the Environment as an example of the new approach.
According to Inside EPA, Mongoven said that the collaboration was broadening the debate beyond exposure to pesticides to the health impacts of industrial emissions. According to Inside EPA, he suggested that one option for industry to counter this development was to dismiss advocates stated public health goal and instead portray them as being "anti-chemical".
- Dr. George Friedman Chief Executive Officer
- Ron Moore Chief Operating Officer
- Fred Burton Vice President, Counterterrorism and Corporate Security
- Bart Mongoven Vice President, Public Policy
- Les Janka, Vice President, Intelligence Projects
- Phone: 1 (202) 429-1800
- Web: stratfor.com
- Al Giordano,"Stratfor Lies about Latin America", November 21, 2003. This is a response to a briefing on Latin American promulgated by Stratfor but not freely available on its website.
- Manu Raju, "Industry Fears Growing Role Of Patient Groups In Environment Lobby", Inside EPA, March 24, 2004.
- Official Site
- STRATFOR's Roger Baker predicts Chinese move against Taiwanese-held islands: