View Full Version : Is STRATFOR Worth it?

03-09-2016, 12:05 AM
Recently I've been thinking of subscribing to STRATFOR. As in the past I've found some of their insights to be interestin.

However, what makes them so different in terms of the material they provide compared to say the Economist, Foreign Policy, or Foreign Affairs?

If anyone here at SWJ has had experience with STRATFOR is a subscription worth it? Why or why not?

Thank you in advance for any replies!


03-09-2016, 05:06 AM
Until recently have been receiving Stratfor’s free service and much enjoyed reading its analyses. That service has been drastically reduced but have decided not to become a commercial subscriber.

There are free alternatives which are generally more concise and to the point,
for example http://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com
For Asia Pacific suggest http://www.aspistrategist.org.au and http://thediplomat.com

03-09-2016, 12:52 PM

I too had the free STRATFOR e-briefings, but that stopped when they got hit by "hackers". I only rarely found them of interest. Certainly wouldn't have paid for the briefings.

As you will have noted I cite the e-briefings from The Soufan Group, which are free and concise.

I gave up paying for The Economist long ago, it became far too mid-Atlantic establishment and in favour of all globalisation.

It might be worth scanning the thread Blogs to Watch, even if it is dated now and quite long:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=5975 (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=5975)

Note I have merged fifty-three threads into that thread and added a Moderator's note to explain.

03-09-2016, 10:27 PM
Confessions of a Stratfor subscriber (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-29/corcoran-confessions-of-a-stratfor-subscriber/3859418)

. Unfortunately after all this time as a low-level subscriber, Stratfor has never given me the inside running on a story. Not even once.

Nor, during my years travelling for Foreign Correspondent, have I ever seen evidence that Stratfor's big corporate clients, who pay many thousands of dollars for their subscriptions, received insights they couldn't have gleaned if they were avid readers of Britain's Economist, the august US journal Foreign Affairs, or the excellent Australian foreign policy blog, The Interpreter.

Stratfor's real talent lies in marketing to corporate America.

While covering international stories, I've read Stratfor's take on the events in which I was immersed. Often an interesting read, yet sometimes I disagreed with their analysis. Occasionally, they simply got the facts wrong.

Stratfor Is a Joke and So Is Wikileaks for Taking It Seriously (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/02/stratfor-is-a-joke-and-so-is-wikileaks-for-taking-it-seriously/253681/)

.what I found was typically some combination of publicly available information and bland "analysis" that had already appeared in the previous day's New York Times. A friend who works in intelligence once joked that Stratfor is just The Economist a week later and several hundred times more expensive. As of 2001, a Stratfor subscription could cost up to $40,000 per year.

It's true that Stratfor employs on-the-ground researchers. They are not spies. On today's Wikileaks release, one Middle East-based NGO worker noted on Twitter that when she met Stratfor's man in Cairo, he spoke no Arabic, had never been to Egypt before, and had to ask her for directions to Tahrir Square. Stratfor also sometimes pays "sources" for information.

03-10-2016, 06:29 PM
Well, irrespectively of standpoints like 'money is the best motivator', paying source for information is not always the best solution.

Best info is still 'for free' - and then from a source one knows 'since ages'.

Anyway... my decision fell quite early (back in early 2000s): no subscription. I feel myself confirmed - and repeatedly - after all the years.

09-01-2016, 09:58 PM
In the same vein, anyone subscribe to SOFREP news?


09-08-2016, 01:03 AM
This is what I had to say about STRATFOR on the board (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=11671&postcount=5) almost a decade ago:

StratFor is George Friedman, his wife and a very small permanent core staff (not one of whom has an intel background) who churn out high quantities of journalistic reporting posing as "analylsis". The bulk of the work is done by university student interns. In my personal opinion, most of their international product is crap - what little there is of value to be found among the outpouring is readily available elsewhere. And where StratFor charges for access to much of their product, you can find much better (and real analysis, not journalism and commentary) for free elsewhere.
They haven't improved with time, but the range of quality information you can access for free has expanded greatly.

Bill Moore
09-08-2016, 05:28 AM
This is what I had to say about STRATFOR on the board (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=11671&postcount=5) almost a decade ago:

They haven't improved with time, but the range of quality information you can access for free has expanded greatly.

Tend to agree, I subscribed for a year or so, but it didn't take long to realize their so called analysis was almost always wrong. It was always entertaining though, which is probably why it has survived so long.

11-19-2016, 06:13 AM
It's not necessarily bad, but there's better money elsewhere.

There are definitely other sources of analysis which are as-good or better, and don't expect cash from you - I definitely wouldn't have used stratfor in the past if my university didn't have a subscription. As a source of international news it isn't worth it, and its emailed "briefing" thingies weren't helpful. Other services - and think tanks - give email news/analysis roundups out for free, and those are usually better.

As for the differences between it and other sources - Stratfor (usually) costs more, and presents itself as an "intelligence-y" resource. I'd place it somewhere near The Economist in terms of breadth.