Friedman, George 1949-
FRIEDMAN, George 1949-
PERSONAL: Born February 1, 1949, in Budapest, Hungary; came to the United States, 1951; son of Emil and Friderika (Deckner) Friedman; married Meredith Ruth Smith; children: David Aaron, Jonathan Robin; (stepchildren) Meredith Michelle, Waverly Edward. Education: City College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1970; Cornell University, M.A., 1973, Ph.D, 1976.
ADDRESSES: Home—Austin, TX. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Doubleday, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, professor of political science, 1974-92; American University, Washington, DC, adjunct professor-in-residence, 1992-94; Louisiana State University, Center for Geopolitical Studies, Baton Rouge, founder and director, 1994-96; G.P.A. Strategic Forecasting Group (now Stratfor), Austin, TX, chairman and director, 1996—. Adjunct professor, Tulane University, 1996. Member of board of directors, Institute of Geopolitical Studies. Consultant to Shape Technology Center, the Hague, Netherlands, 1980-81; McDermott, 1996; Albemarie, 1996; and Financial Times TV, 1996.
MEMBER: American Political Science Association, Society for Competitive Intelligence Professionals, Naval Surface Warfare Association, Authors Guild, Authors League of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Grants from Sun Microsystems, 1994, Pew Charitable Trust, 1994, and Earhart Foundation, 1996.
(With Meredith LeBard) The Coming War with Japan, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1991.
(With wife, Meredith Friedman) The Future of War:Power, Technology and American World Dominance in the Twenty-firs Century, Crown (New York, NY), 1996.
(With others) The Intelligence Edge: How to Profit in the Information Age, Crown (New York, NY), 1997.
America's Secret War: Inside the Hidden WorldwideStruggle between America and Its Enemies, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2004.
Friedman's work has been translated into Japanese and Chinese.
SIDELIGHTS: George Friedman's company, Stratfor, is recognized as a unique source for obtaining intelligence and analysis on international geopolitical events. Originally founded as a private intelligence and security agency, Stratfor has become best known for its Web site. Subscribers to the Stratfor service are provided with what the company's staff judge to be the most pertinent current developments in world events, gathered from a variety of sources. Friedman takes those key events, analyzes them, and offers his expert predictions on what they may lead to, economically and politically, in the near future. Stratfor's clientele includes individuals, businesses, and even high-level government agencies. Profiling Friedman and his enterprise for Texas Monthly, Michael Hall summarized that the staff of Stratfor "are lawful spies more adept with mouse and browser than cloak and dagger." But Hall also quoted Friedman as objecting to that characterization, saying, "Espionage is the illegal gathering of information. . . . What we do is intelligence gathering. The problem today, though, is sorting information. One of the CIA's prime missions used to be sending an agent to Minsk to bring back the local newspapers. Today I can go to Minsk in thirty seconds and get the local papers. The problem today is not collection but analysis." In addition to forecasting for his subscribers and clients, Friedman has also made his insights available in books, including The Intelligence Edge: How to Profit in the Information Age and America's Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle between America and Its Enemies.
Not all of Friedman's predictions have come to pass. In The Coming War with Japan, published in 1991, Friedman and collaborator Meredith LeBard warned that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States's relationship with Japan had changed dramatically. Promoting a strong economy in Japan had always been important to the U.S. strategy against the Soviet Union; with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States could afford to be less sensitive to Japanese interests. Friedman and LeBard explain that tensions between the two countries are likely to rise because Japan is dependent on the United States to import large quantities of U.S. goods, yet it is also vulnerable to the use of force by the powerful U.S. Navy, which could easily blockade Japan's ports. A reviewer for Economist, allowed that the authors' basic ideas are accurate, but stated that "to raise the spectre of war is pure sensationalism." Publishers Weekly reviewer Genevieve Stuttaford also cautioned that the authors "sometimes overstate their thesis" but added that "their scenario is plausible."
In The Future of War: Power, Technology, and American World Dominance in the Twenty first Century, Friedman and his wife, Meredith Friedman, provide a look at cutting-edge weapons technology and the ways in which that technology will change the face of war. Stating that tanks, aircraft carriers, and manned aircraft are in a sense already obsolete, the authors give an overview of precision munitions, long-range strike capabilities, space-based reconnaissance and striking systems, and other modern weapons. Armed Forces & Society reviewer Raymond E. Franck, Jr., found the book "thoughtful and interesting," but was skeptical of some of the conclusions drawn in the book. A Publishers Weekly reviewer also found some of the authors' predictions "questionable," such as the idea that precision-guided weapons would render traditional weaponry obsolete.
In The Intelligence Edge: How to Profit in the Information Age Friedman and his coauthors stress that in the modern age it is important to be able to efficiently sort through huge amounts of information in order to act on it and prosper from it. A Publishers Weekly writer called the book's premise "a worthwhile idea," and found much of the anecdotal information presented "interesting," but charged that the authors do not provide what would be most helpful to business managers, namely, a step-by-step guide to converting data into understanding and, subsequently, profits.
In America's Secret War Friedman offers an analysis of the global situation in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. Examining the causes and repercussions of the attack, he takes a nonpartisan view of events leading up to, and following, the attacks. According to David Pryce-Jones, a contributor to Spectator, Friedman credits the U.S. government with doing "quite a lot of things right in countering terror, but a few things wrong too, and all of it is open to rational debate." Friedman states that al Qaeda would like to drive the U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia just as they drove the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The September 11 attack was designed to be of such an atrocious scale that U.S. troops would have to respond with force, entering into a war with Muslim troops. According to Friedman, al Qaeda leaders hoped that the presence of U.S. troops in the Middle East would help stir support for their cause. Friedman states that the decision to invade Iraq was perhaps not a good one, as the country is historically a tribal nation and perhaps inevitably will give rise to a powerful dictators like Saddam Hussein. He does not, however, feel that establishing a military presence in the Middle East was a bad idea.
Probing questions such as differences between the real and stated aims of the United States in attacking Iraq, and the difficulty of capturing Osama bin Laden, Friedman does not presume to provide all the answers. Nevertheless, stated David Pitt in a Booklist review of America's Secret War, the author "delivers a clearer, deeper, and subtler understanding of the post-9/11 world than we will ever get from . . . television."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armed Forces & Society, spring, 2001, Raymond E. Franck, Jr., review of The Future of War: Power, Technology and American World Dominance in the Twenty-first Century, p. 477.
Booklist, October 15, 1996, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Future of War, p. 385; October 1, 2004, David Pitt, review of America's Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle between America and Its Enemies, p. 286.
Economist, July 13, 1991, review of The Coming War with Japan, p. 92.
Navy News & Undersea Technology, September 17, 2001, Scott Nance, "Attacks Highlight Limits of Technical Intelligence," p. 3.
New York Times Magazine, April 20, 2003, Matt Bai, "Spooky." p. 28.
Publisher Weekly, April 5, 1991, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of The Coming War with Japan, p. 127; December 30, 1996, review of The Future of War, p. 47; October 6, 1997, review of The Intelligence Edge: How to Profit in the Information Age, p. 69.
Spectator, November 27, 2004, David Pryce-Jones, review of America's Secret War, p. 48.
Texas Monthly, June, 1999, Michael Hall, "The Spying Game," p. 21.
Wall Street Journal, March 11, 1997, Michael G. Vickers, review of The Future of War, p. A20.
Stratfor Web site,http://www.stratfor.com/ (February 7, 2005).*