Some thoughts about Statfor from a long-time subscriber.
- Their reporting is first-rate, among the best available from public sources. It and The Economist are among the best English-language sources of information about political developments in the 3rd world.
- The analysis of events is usually excellent, esp about breaking events (like today’s incident in the South China Sea).
- Threats are usually exaggerated, as are the facts supporting threats.
- They poorly evaluate the reliability of information (i.e., they do little better than the news media). Per #4, rumors about threats are given excessive credence.
- They almost never cite sources, not even providing links to news reports.
- When they talk about economics, stop reading. You’ll never get back those wasted minutes of your life. If they say anything non-consensus, it is probably wrong.
About Stratfor’s analytic perspective
IMO the major weakness of Stratfor’s work is a relentlessly top-down perspective, which see most geopolitical dynamics in terms of master-players moving pawns on the global chessboard. That worked poorly during the cold war (e.g., China and Vietnam were not pawns), and even more so in a non-trinitarian era that followed — with its increasing role of non-state actors.
Their “top down” analytical framework has jumped the shark during the Iraq War, described as a contest between senior elements of the US and Iranian governments. They saw the people of Iraq as puppets, relatively powerless agents.
Stratfor’s analysts share the blindness of the corporate and government elites who provide their income. This often results in bafflement when confronted with the empowering effects of modern technology and 4GW.
Yes! where is he, the champion and the child
Of all that’s great or little, wise or wild;
Whose game was empires, and whose stakes were thrones;
Whose table earth — whose dice were human bones?
Behold the grand result in yon lone isle,
And, as thy nature urges, weep or smile.
Sigh to behold the eagle’s lofty rage
Reduced to nibble at his narrow cage
— Excerpt from “The Age of Bronze” by Lord Byron