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  • Strategy: A History | Lawrence Freedman | Talks at Google
  • - Mr.Freeman - каждый теперь может выпускать свои деньги
  • Conversations with History: Sir Lawrence Freedman


BORIS: Welcome, everyone. It's another Authors at Google Talk. Today with us is Sir Lawrence Freedman. He's been a professor of war studies at King's College London since 1982 and vice principal since 2003, elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1995 and awarded the CVE in 1996. He was appointed official historian of the Faulklands campaign in 1997. He was awarded the KCMG in 2003. In June, 2009, he was appointed to serve as a member of the official inquiry into Britain and the 2003 Iraq war. Professor Freedman has written extensively on nuclear strategy and the Cold War, as well as commentating regularly on contemporary security issues. His recent book, "A Choice of Enemies, America Confronts the Middle East," won the 2009 Lionel Gelber prize and Duke of Westminster metal for military literature. Today he will talk us through his newest book, "Strategy, a History." Please give a warm welcome to Sir Lawrence Freedman. [APPLAUSE] SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Boris, thank you very much. It's a real pleasure to be here. Everybody here Googles regularly. So to actually be at the heart of it is quite exciting. So what I want to do first is to explain to you what the book is about and how it's organized and then give you some basic ideas about some of the main themes before trying out on you an approach to strategy which I think emerges from the book. I have to emphasize that, because I'd like you to read it, but it doesn't depend on you agreeing with the approach to strategy. But I do think if you're going to write about these things, you should have some ideas at the end about it. The book is essentially a history of ideas. So it has quite a lot of the different theories, which I think impinge on strategy and make people think differently about it. And it's about the relationship between theory and practice, about how ideas about action are influenced by views about how the world works. So that's sort of what inspired me to do it. It isn't really a how to do it book. It's not a book that the inspiration of which was 20 lessons to success. If you just follow my example, you'll make a mint. You won't if you try to follow what I say. But it gives you some ideas. So the way it's organizes is sort of first looking at the pre-history of strategy in the sense that the word, as we understand it, came into use largely at the end of the 18th century, start of the 19th century. The word itself comes from the Greek strategos, the art of the general. And, of course, a lot of the activity that we would now describe as being strategic was there before hand. Just because people didn't call it strategy doesn't mean to say that they weren't doing it. But the word itself, and therefore the interest in what it's about and how to define it, how to conceptualize it, comes into currency just before Napoleon. But I think Napoleon gives it more meaning to those who are interested in how the art of warfare had been transformed since the French Revolution. But it was part of the Enlightenment because it captured the idea that with sufficient application of reason and science, that the world could become much more comprehensible and predictable, and therefore controllable. And there's an impulse behind strategy. It's a desire to make the future more in your control, more so in control than other people with whom you may be in competition or in war. And the assumption is that if you understand that world better than they do and can work out your actions accordingly, you're the one who will come out on top. So it reflected an enlightenment belief that it was possible to get a science of human affairs that would be following the natural sciences. Napoleon gave it much more meaning because here was somebody who seemed to have a genius for battle, for transforming the way that war was fought. And two of those who fought in the Napoleonic Wars, not on the same side-- the Swiss Germany and the Prussian Clausewitz-- I became the main interpreters of Napoleon through the 19th century and influenced the way that we think about, not only war, but also strategy ever since. And the basic point that they sought to get over-- and Clausewitz is much more nuanced and settled than Germany in this. But the underlying point was the same. The efforts of the great general would be geared towards the decisive battle. And the decisiveness of battle was really important in this. It wasn't just winning. You would win in such a way that the opponent, the enemy, would be at your mercy. And so the politics of the conflict would be sorted out by the military victory, by the military success. So the idea of decisive battle-- which is not a new idea, but was given much more credibility by Napoleon's early successes-- was to the full. If you won the battle, you would win the war. Now the problem with this became-- could have been apparent at the time. There was one campaign where both Germany and Clausewitz were present, which is the 1812 campaign against Russia on opposite sides. And that showed a lot of the problems with the idea of decisive battle. Napoleon won at the Battle at Borodino. But he didn't really win because the Russians had sufficient reserves left-- as the Russians always do-- had sufficient reserves left to be able to mount another attack. Napoleon went for the capital city to find it abandoned and soon on fire and discovered he was stranded. He didn't actually have a way of winning the war and famously then had to retreat. You could argue also that the Peninsula War, where the first guerrillas made their appearance-- or the first that were called that in Spain-- also demonstrated in the face of popular resistance, even if an army had been defeated, you could also struggle. So the problems with the idea of a decisive battle, in principle, were evident right from the start. Nonetheless, to this day, military strategy seems to be geared to that particular event. Yet if you look at the developments in technology over the past couple of hundred years, you realize just how much harder it is to get a decisive victory than it was in Napoleon's day. The range of weapons, their lethality, their numbers, the ways in which you could bring reserves to the battlefield through railways, the development of aircraft, and so on, all of these made warfare much more challenging and much more likely to end in attrition, a long battle, a long struggle that would not have an easy answer. One side would eventually be basically worn down by the other, in which case it would be just the superiority of resources that would make the difference. I mean, we're happy to talk later about various ideas that have developed over the last couple of decades under the influence of the digital revolution about how military affairs might be affected by this. But essentially if you're talking about wars between great powers, especially nuclear powers, it's very hard to see how they can be concluded with the abject surrender of one to the other, especially if both have got nuclear weapons, hence the phrase mutually assured destruction, which is very explicit about the state of affairs. That warns of the consequences of two sides trying to fight to the finish. And my experience warns of the problems of believing that through clever strategy you can control affairs because there's always something else to come behind. The next session looks at political affairs. And I start with the underdog, for reasons I'll explain in a minute. I start with revolutionary theory, largely revolutionaries, because the gap between where they start and where they're going, where we wish to end up, is enormous. They're the ones who think about strategy more than anybody else. It's often pretty hopeless and futile. But they do think a lot about it. Anybody who's had any connection with radical groups will know just how much strategizing goes on, often to little effect. But in the 1830's, when the first professional revolutionaries came along, they had an example not very long before of the French Revolution, which indicated how things could change, and a lot of unrest and unsettled popular feeling that gave them hope that things could be transformed. And a lot of the ideas that we have now become very familiar with, of course, were very fresh in those terms about how society may develop and the science of politics that Marx in particular. But others also thought that they had discerned that would explain why in some way or other their victory was inevitable. And they also were looking for a decisive event just like the military strategists. In their case the decisive event was going to be the revolution, which would be the moment when you move from one political order to the next. And, of course, with the revolutionaries, they didn't have much chance to put it into practice. When there were revolutions, for example in 1917, they didn't occur in anything like the circumstances in which the revolutionaries had predicted. Their methods were different to those that they had said that they would follow. And then, of course, they were faced with the many challenges of coping with the society that they'd inherited. But what I try to do in the book is look through the ways in which the frustrations of the revolutionaries led to new thinking about political action, and in particular the importance of the way that people think about their situation as being what you have to influence and manipulate. Why was it that the masses didn't understand how repressed and oppressed and exploited they were? What were the sources of their false consciousness? And as those ideas developed, they merged into much more general thinking about how people construct the world in their heads and the challenges of influencing those constructions. So as you move on, you see within political affairs, quite mainstream now, not particularly radical, the idea of the narrative taking hold, that what's critical is your ability to frame events in such a way that people will accept your version of what's going on and act accordingly. So the narrative becomes increasingly important to strategy. And you can argue something similar is happening, the influence by some of these ideas in political affairs in the military affairs as well. In counter insurgency theory, the importance of hearts and minds as opposed to just beating people up, so-called kinetic methods. The importance of hearts and minds lies in the recognition that the way people think about a conflict, not necessarily that they like you, but if they think you're going to win and maybe that it's going to be better for you if they do, it may well, again, affect their readiness to give support to insurgents, provide recruits to insurgents, fund them, or whatever else they might do. And similarly also in the business sphere, if you look at the literature now, business strategy is the dominant field. There's more books written about business strategy and all the bits of the business strategy, human relations, procurement, marketing, whatever, than there are about military strategy. It only really started-- you only see books on business strategy coming into being in the early '60s. It has a similar sort of origin, however. Just like military strategy was initially about the affairs of the great powers, so it is business strategy was about the affairs of the great companies, the big American corporations, whose actual ability to grow their business was limited by antitrust laws. And they, by and large, were not doubting their market share. The question for them was profitability and how do they get the most efficiency out of their business. So a lot of the original work on business strategy was looking at the structure of organizations to make sure that they were at their most efficient. The word competition didn't particularly appear. It was only towards as the '60s wore on that the idea of competitive strategy in business became more and more important. And even then, initially, a lot of it was-- for example, the work of Michael Porter-- some of you may be aware of, at Harvard, one the first serious academic business strategists-- was essentially about maintaining your market position and repelling insurgents in the sense of putting up market barriers rather than necessarily making better products. Over the ensuing period, a lot more interest in innovation, finding new markets, showing how you can be cleverer than everybody else. But there's been a problem with business strategy in that it hasn't really, unlike military strategy, had a single compelling model that has shaped all discussion. There's numerous different strategies on offer. I was fascinated to discover whole academic literature on fads and fashions, which charted the rise and fall of a variety of ideas, often initiated by Tom Peters, that grabbed attention for a few years and then were supplanted by something else and raised interesting questions about why did chief executives follow these strategies when experience should warn them that they may have a short shelf life and not produce the promised rewards? And there's sort of interesting answers in terms of if everybody else is following it then you don't lose out by following it yourself. Indeed, following the latest fashions often was associated with higher executive pay, if not better results. So there's an interesting question about the development of business strategy in that its often struggled to find its way. So with that very quick background as to how the different elements-- and I should say, the book ends with more social sciences stuff about rational choice and attempts by social scientists to also provide a scientific approach to strategy and what I think is the interesting influence of cognitive psychology on these ideas. That's very briefly an overview of a very long book. Let me give you now my sense of the approach that I think comes out of this. One of the things I'm trying to argue, as you will have gathered, is the attempts to control the environment well into the future so that you're sure that where you start, that by following your strategy you will reach the desired end, is often disappointing and misleading, that strategy is not necessarily a plan. I challenge the idea that strategy is a plan. Now, there's a very famous quote by the great Prussian Field Marshal von Moltke that "no plan survives contact with the enemy." I open the book with my favorite quote which gets to the same point in a more pithy way by the boxer Mike Tyson which is "everybody's got a plan until they got punched in the face." And the reason why plans aren't followed is for a very simple reason. It's a difference in the way between an engineering problem and a strategic problem. If you're dealing with physical properties as a well known, you may have to struggle, there may be uncertainty, but you should be able to get, eventually, through experimentation and clever thought, to an outcome. With a strategic problem, you've got somebody trying to frustrate you. An example I use is President Reagan's strategic defense initiative in the 1980s where he said, understandably, isn't it better to protect against a missile attack than avenge a missile attack? We should be able to protect against a missile attack because look how good we are. We put a man on the moon. But, of course, the moon wasn't trying to fight back. The moon wasn't trying to repel borders. And that's the basic difference. You're dealing with an intelligent opponent. Now, if you're very strong, then you should be able to get your way in many situations. There's a quote from Ecclesiastes that "the race doesn't always go to the most swift or the fight to the most strong." But Damon Runyon added, "they're the ones to bet on." By and large the fast win, and the strong win. So the interesting things about strategy, which is why I looked so much at revolutionary strategy, is under what circumstances can the underdogs do well? Now, one answer to that comes from being cleverer than the sort of muscle bound opponent that you may face. And the example that's often used for that is David and Goliath. Every time somebody sees themselves as the underdog, the weak guy in the fight, they will cite David and Goliath to give them hope and to show that they're also on the side of right. You know the story of David and Goliath with the Philistines offering their champion to challenge the Israelites who don't come up with a champion. And that's actually one important part of the story because it should have been King Saul. That was his job. That was why he'd been made king. But he was very cautious, and a bit reluctant so bizarrely accepted the claims of a shepherd boy to go on instead. And this was a shepherd boy who refused to accept Saul's armor. So he went undefended against this giant. Instead he picked up some stones from the stream, used his sling, and sent them in the direction of Goliath, hit him in between the head. Goliath falls down. He chops of his head with Goliath's own sword. And the Philistines agree. Now, the interesting thing about all of this is it could've been different. And the ways it could have been different gives you a warning about an underdog strategy that tries to work through deception and getting in the first blow. First, this could have been a couple of centimeters. This could have been very different. If the thing had pinged off the top of Goliath's helmet, he wouldn't have had a second chance. He had one chance and one chance alone. Secondly, that it required the Philistines to accept this result. If they thought this was really unfair-- this was asymmetric warfare, after all. If they thought this was unfair, they could've rushed forward, and the Israelites would still have been in trouble. And third, and most relevant, is that you can't do this over and over again. The next time a champion of the Philistines came along, he would at least have a better helmet. And he'd certainly be looking quite carefully at what David was up to. And it's the problem of the trickster through the ages. If you look at Odysseus, who I spent some time on in the early stages of the book, who was the great trickster and a really successful one. And Homer really approves of doing things by guile rather than force. But he's not believed after a point. Nobody trusts him at all. Even when he's telling the truth, he's not believed. So there are limits on what you can do by cunning and deception. Not to say it can't be successful in particular circumstances. It may be very successful. But there are limits. And you can see that in military terms, for example, with the Schlieffen Plan. You'll be hearing more about it as we go through the anniversary of the start of the first World War next year. But it's the German plan to take France quickly out of war with a knockout blow. And once they failed in the knockout blow, they were stuck with a war of attrition. Now the great book for those who want to be cleverer than their opponent is the Chinese sage Sun Tzu, which is a very good read, very interesting. It wasn't very specific, which is why it stood the test of time, lots of aphorisms. And the basic idea is to be a better intelligence than the opponent and to deceive them. If the enemy things you're strong, you show you're weak. If the enemy thinks you're weak, you show you're strong. If the enemy thinks you're retreating, you advance. The enemy thinks you're advancing-- you get the idea. And you can always make up some of these aphorisms. There's more to it than that. But the basic idea and the reason why it's so appealing to people is that it plays in some ways to vanity, that if you could be cleverer than others-- and who doesn't want to think that they're clever than others-- that you could win. But the problem comes, obviously, when you face an opponent whose got more resources and is as clever or indeed clever then you. If everybody's read Sun Tzu, it's not altogether clear how you'll ever engage because everybody's going to be deceiving each other so much. You end up with total disorientation. But Sun Tzu, because it warns of the dangers of direct attack, encourages indirect approaches, has been taken as the Bible of those who want to try to achieve great results without too much pain. So it's beloved in the business community. My favorite moment with Sun Tzu is in the episode of the "Sopranos" where Dr. Melfi is saying to Tony Soprano, listen, don't come to me. If you want to be a better strategist, go read the art of war. And then a few weeks later, he comes back out. I read the "Art of War." It's better than Machiavelli. And immediately Amazon sales of Sun Tzu shot up in New Jersey. So it's an attractive book. But I think there are limits on what it can offer, which is heresy, I should say, to a lot of people in the strategy business. So what's a different approach? Well, for a different approach is where I start the book, which is with primates, with chimps. We talked about Antwerp before. At Antwerp Zoo there's a chap called Frans de Waal in the 1970s who stood day after day watching chimpanzee communities. And he wrote a book about it call "Chimpanzee Politics." And what he realized is that when the alpha male, the big strong leader of the pack, was being challenged, it wasn't by somebody who was bigger and stronger. But actually the challengers were often quite clever. They did use deception. But they also formed coalitions. They found partners. And that's a pretty good way to challenge a stronger opponent. Find somebody, and get stronger than they are. And that's what the chimps did. And the other thing that studies of chimps showed is that they did go to war. And usually for animals, they were prepared to kill their own species as a deliberate attack. It wasn't out of emotion or anger. It was quite deliberate. And we know it's deliberate because they would tend to try to, again, have superiority in numbers if they mounted an attack. And if they didn't have a superiority, they slunk away. And I think that also points to an important lesson, which is the importance of endurance. Actually, rather than go for a swift knockout blow, if your weaker, often the first thing to do is to survive and endure until you find the point at which you can gain strength from partnerships or because something else has happened which allows you to move in. So the lessons-- and I argue that these are elemental and can be taken all the way through-- our the importance of endurance, the importance of coalitions, and actually to make coalitions work if you are going to deceive an opponent, the importance of empathy. And you don't necessarily think of chimps as being especially empathetic. But what that meant was that they have what biologists called a theory of the mind so that they understood that the way another individual behaved depended upon the way that they thought. And so you get back to this-- in a sense, again, not a thing you'd associate with a chimp, a narrative. But you get back to the idea that the way that the world is constructed is very important to understand behavior. And if you can change that, you can change behavior. And just to give you an example of leaping forward, so it's from chimps to Churchill, when Winston Churchill became prime minister in 1940, in May 1940, the issue that he faced at the time was not how Britain could beat Germany war because all Britain's allies, [? and our ?] allies, they were all being swept away by the Nazi advance, by the blitzkrieg. And the issue was Britain finding itself alone. And the question was should they attempt to negotiate peace with Hitler? And he concluded no and persuaded his colleagues-- it was quite a serious debate in the Cabinet-- that they should not. Not because he ruled it out in the future, but he didn't need to at the time. They could endure and survive for the moment. And then they would have to review. So in the first instance-- and this is true of much strategy. Because a lot of strategy is written as if you're on the offensive from word go. And it's about winning and beating. Actually a lot of strategy is about survival. It's about circumstances in which you're under challenge, and you're trying to work out, often in part from a very good position, how you're moving into a weak position. So that was just Churchill starting. But Churchill did have a view about how victory might come eventually. And it was quite different from the view of his predecessor, Neville Chamberlain. And that was that the key was the United States. He immediately set up a correspondence with President Roosevelt with the view all the time to persuade the United States to provide the British Empire with help and eventually hopefully coming into the war. So when, on the 7th of December, 1941, the Americans were in the war, helped the next day by Hitler's own declaration of war on the United States, one of many strange moves, in retrospect, made by Hitler-- the Japanese didn't reciprocate. The Japanese declared war on the United States, but they didn't declare war on Russia, for example. But anyway, Hitler declared war on the United States. And Churchill's comment, recollection, was "so we had won at last." We would survive. Now, there were years to go before the war was over. But he now knew the balance had shifted. And, of course, even before that, it indicated Russia, Soviet Union, had come into the war. And when that happened, Churchill was chided for forming an alliance with Stalin because Churchill had been a great anti-Bolsheviker, an opponent of the Soviet Union. And his comment was, if Hitler invaded Hades, I'd say a good word for Satan in the House of Commons. So he understood from the start the importance of coalition. So what then-- just to sort of pull this together-- am I arguing? I've argued coalition. I've argued often the starting point is defensive rather than offensive. And that leads, I think, to a challenge to the idea, which is very strong in the literature, that strategy is about setting your objectives and working out how to achieve them. It's always about the relationship between ends and means. But somehow the ends define what you're trying to do. And I think it's understandable. And sometimes it's fine because you can set objectives, and you can see a way forward with a plan to achieve them. But there are two reasons for caution in that. First, actually in practice, strategies are set by the problems you face in the here and now. Strategy is not about getting to an ultimate objective. Strategy is about getting to a better place than you would be without strategy. And that may be quite short term. It may be a longer term. But the initial objectives are unlikely to be ultimate objectives. They're going to be what you can do to get yourself to address the problems you face at the moment. That is what most strategy, in practice, is about, never mind what the strategy books may say. The second reason why it's important not to get fixated on the ultimate objective is actually in life there isn't. You rarely reach an ultimate objective. And it goes back to the problem of the decisive battle or the decisive revolution. They're decisive only to a point. You win a battle. The enemy surrenders. But then you've got a whole series of other problems to face about working the peace. You win an election. You find yourself in government. You have a successful takeover. You've now got to work out to merge one company into another. You have a revolution. The regime is overthrown. But somehow you've got to govern. So strategy doesn't stop. It's not a three act play. It's a soap opera. You get to one stage, and then there's another stage, and a stage after that. It's a permanent part of human activity. So the approach that I'm arguing for at the end is based on getting away from the idea of a plan with a definite end and thinking more about strategy as a response to a changing environment, which is throwing up new problems which requires you to think through what you can do to get yourself into a better position, at which point you'll be thinking again about how to get to an even better position. As you move, new possibilities open up and other possibilities may be closed down. So it's very rarely the case, when you embark on a great campaign, the you'll end up in the place where you hoped to be or even expected to be. Things happen. There are questions of chance, of serendipity that will make a difference. So to conclude, what I hope people will get from this book is first a sense of the many, many different ways that people have thought about strategy and talked about strategy. I hope you'll get a sense of the importance of political theory, the big ideas of the time in shaping how people act and address their affairs. And I hope that it'll also make people a little bit cautious about the claims of strategists. As Eisenhower has said about plans, "plans are useless, but planning is essential." I think strategy is essential. I think it is important to think clearly and consciously and deliberately about what you're trying to do. But it should always be done with this awareness that you can't control your future environment. There are other players involved. And things will happen that's nobody's expected that will change what you want to achieve. So with that, I'd be more than happy to take questions. But I'll stop there. Thank you very much indeed. [APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: Thank you for the talk. I was wondering when you were talking about the theory of decisive battle and von Clausewitz-- I haven't read von Clausewitz. I'd be curious to know how much this is based on their actual interpretation of history. And did that actually happen in the centuries beforehand? Or is it more something you get from, at least today what we see in fiction and literature, this idea of champion versus champion and one side just surrendering? Like, I don't know how much that actually happened in history? And was that actually a valid strategy for some period of time? SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Well, it's an interesting question because actually in the 18th century, battle wasn't so decisive. It was very much a response to Napoleon and what Napoleon achieved. So it was based on experience but actually quite a limited one. And Clausewitz famously, as he was writing his great work on war, had a rethink because you looked back and realized there were alternative ways in which conflicts could be resolved other than by the decisive battle, although all his instincts-- and he never finished writing his book, so we don't quite know how it would've ended up-- pushed him towards decisive battle. Jomini never really veered away from that. He disliked guerrilla warfare. He thought this was sort of beneath contempt, though he knew it happened. And interestingly, Jomini was actually a far greater influence on American military thought than was Clausewitz though he's less remembered now. So it was based on a very limited experience but very powerful experience that these men have been through. AUDIENCE: Is there actually a lot of cases throughout history where you do see war is being fought where it ends up being champion versus champion or king versus king or something and it steps down? Because I almost have the suspicion that that doesn't actually happen in practice and instead you see the 16 Years War or the Hundred Years War or battle after battle after battle. SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Well, that's obviously part of my point is that if you don't have a decisive victory, then these things go on. But, of course, there have been. I mean, you can think of the Six Day War in 1967. The Israelis got in the first blow. They took on an apparently powerful coalition, and they won. Now, you can then say they won but they're still struggling and fighting in the territories they occupied then or some of the territories they occupied there. So how decisive in the long term it was is a question. But certainly in the short term it would seem to be. The state of Bangladesh exists because India went to war against Pakistan and defeated them. So it does happen. By and large, if the war is quick, then the result tends to be more decisive that the opponent has been caught off guard. But the memory lingers. So 1817, the Franco Prussian War, which leads to the unification of Germany. Alsace and Lorraine taken from the French, the resentments were still there. 1918, there's a defeat of Germany. But the resentment is still there. So that's why one of the points I'm trying to make in terms of things are never quite as decisive as they seem. But they have moved you to a different stage. AUDIENCE: It seems you're suggesting that the traditional military distinction between strategy and tactics should be obliterated, much more of a fusion of those two concepts. SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Yeah. I mean, there's a very strong and understandable hierarchy in thinking, which to some extent reflects command structures. You've got the political masters, the general staff, and the senior command, the field commander, the local general. And tactics is right at the bottom of all of that. But the principle, it seems to be, are often the same. Obviously, the scale can vary. So in recent times people have been writing about, say, the strategic corporal because say you're a young platoon commander and you're in the middle of a not very friendly city and facing a big demonstration, the choices that you make can have big consequences. And you don't have a chance to feed up the chain of command. You've got seconds sometimes in which to make a decision. So obviously there's questions of scale and consequences that vary. But the principles are the same. It's a complex argument to get it now. But one of the pushes in a lot of thinking about military strategy has been what they call to develop the operational level somewhere between tactics and military strategy, which is actually a politics free zone as it's described. And you can see why a general might like of politics free zone. But it's not actually healthy, and actually it's not actually correct because most military force, when it's applied, has political implications in every way it goes forward. So, yeah, there's actually quite a chunk of the book which is challenging, not so much the distinction between strategy and tactics, but the way in which these very definite hierarchies of strategy have developed. AUDIENCE: Do you have any thoughts around what's going on in Washington right now with the brinkmanship around the government shut down and the fiscal cliff? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about the strategies that are being used and what strategies should be used. SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I'm not sure as a foreigner I should interfere in your internal affairs. [LAUGHTER] SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I mean, it was weird because I arrived in Washington on Tuesday. And my first meeting was cancelled. And the guy who was supposed to chair my second was furloughed. But we did have furlough fries for lunch, which was fun. [LAUGHTER] SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: It's actually a fascinating case because it appears simply as sort of Congress versus the Executive Branch or Republicans versus Democrats. But actually the key question is why does a group of Republican congressman feel able to withstand the tremendous amount of pressure that in other circumstances would be assumed to be almost irresistible because it threatens the ability of your party to win elections in the future? No opinion poll is suggesting that the actions of the House Republicans at the moment are anything other than unpopular, or that many of the House Republicans are unhappy with this. But this is sufficient to tie the hand of Speaker Boehner. So one question is why doesn't he face them down? And that presumably has something to do with his own position. But why do these guys feel they don't have to worry about this pressure? Because their own positions are absolutely safe because of redistricting, because of the fact that they can get funds from wealthy supporters, and they don't have to go through the party to get the funds. They feel absolutely safe. And so they can pursue this crusade, if you like, without personally having to face the consequences. And it will have to be broken when-- maybe they also think that because of the pressure of default or something that the president will be the one who has to blink first. Maybe that's also part of it. I don't see how he can't. So my guess is that at some point there will be sufficient pressure from the Republicans on Speaker Boehner that he has to find some [INAUDIBLE]. It's not immediately obvious at the moment. And I think it's an absolutely classic strategic problem because it's not just a question of the tactics that are being adopted. It's the way the whole issue is structured and also the way it's framed. So the speaker wants it to appear as a problem with a lack of compromise. The president wants it to appear as a problem of extortion and bullying. It has very big consequences. The trouble with academic students of strategy, we can find all sorts of grim events absolutely riveting without thinking always of the consequences. I think it's very serious because it goes to the heart of the governability and the reputation of the United States. But as a strategic problem it reveals quite a lot of important issues. AUDIENCE: So your whole talk really focused on the evolution of strategy and then defining really what is the success and what's the end goal. And I feel that heavily in the path is this aspect of probability and luck to actually get there. And over the years luck has become probability, which now we have predictive analytics. And I was wondering with all the computing power and predictive analytics these days, how much you felt strategy was going to change in the next five years, and what direction you thought it would go? SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: That's really interesting. Clearly you can trace this back-- and I do trace it back-- to the 1950s, and particularly the RAND Corporation, which were the first to see the possibilities of making calculations using computers, which they had, that the human mind couldn't make and, in a sense, simulating states of affairs that would in other ways be beyond human imagination. So since then there's been a continuing belief that it is actually possible to crank in the variables, to almost experiment, a little experiment in the way and engineer would, and work out how things are likely work out. And I think if you're trying to understand human behavior in the mass, a lot of basic supply and demand stuff, this will stand you in good stead. If you're talking about relatively stable societies with growth and stable behavior patterns, this could be quite interesting. But I wouldn't want to be the one who relies upon it if it was a really big decision. If it's an outlying decision, if you're talking about situations where the sample size is small and the variables are many and the possibilities of chance and luck are considerable, then as likely as not your predictions will let you down. And you've always got the possibility that somebody else is doing the same calculations on the other side, and coming to the same conclusions about what might happen, and acting accordingly. There has been a degree of experimentation. I mean, like all of these experiments, they're largely done on graduate students in this part of the world. So whether this is representative behavior, one can ask. But they show actually that people aren't necessarily naturally strategic. But they understand when they're in these situations. They understand they need to vary their behavior. If they're too predictable in a sort of repeated game, they'll get caught up. So I think there are possibilities to understand large areas of human affairs, which often in many ways are not political. They're just the way that people operate and relate to their environment. But the more political it becomes and the more conscious people are that they're in a conflict, I think the less likely it is that that will in the end take you as far as people might hope. AUDIENCE: I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the roll of process innovations, particularly things like the Roman camp formation and John Boyd's description of the OODA loop and the tactical operation center and how they contribute to changes in strategy. Oh, and also impact as force multipliers. SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Yeah. I spent a bit of time on John Boyd, more than the other things you mentioned, because Boyd was an innovative thinker. For those of you who don't know, he was a fighter pilot who wrote the manuals on dog fights out of this idea of the OODA lopp, which is Observation, Orientation, Decision, Adaptation. I think that's right. Which was a way of getting to the idea that what was important was thinking faster and more accurately than your opponent rather than necessarily having more firepower. And it was a very influential idea. It was not a bad idea. I mean, it had a lot of effect. And some of other of Boyd's ideas were less successful. I don't think there's any basic problem with the idea of the OODA loop. It's like one of these things like SWAT analysis. They're useful tools once you start thinking about it. What I thought you were going to ask about when you started talking about process is things where people have tried to change strategies that have been based on essentially change the way you go about your business, which a lot of business strategies like that. And the one I spent a bit of time on in the book is business process re-engineering, which was a fascinating example of a fad, and a very influential one. Al Gore once thought about applying it to the United States government, which may not have been a bad idea, I guess. And it was based on the idea that you could take a particular process or a company or any organization, break it down into its component parts, analyze each individually, relate them to each other, and then them together again into some more efficient form. And it sort of swept the board in the mid 1990s because it was seen to be a way of taking advantage of the digital revolution, which was part of what's Boyd's OODA loop did, and gave you the possibility of being much more efficient, creating more shareholder value, and so on. The problem was it soon became associated with redundancy because in order to demonstrate where the change had happened, as often as not those who'd been through the process said and we've lost these people who've been let go, whatever the euphemism is. And the consequence of that is that as soon as firm started talking about business process re-engineering, the workforce got a little anxious and resistance set in. And then like so many of these fads, which had been over hyped, once people started looking at the claimed successes, they found other reasons or the successes didn't last and so on and so forth. And often it had some quite good ideas in it got lost. And also one of the problems with it was the narrative around it. So when you had the proponents of this saying management has joined the dangerous professions, help the wounded but should the stragglers, and so on, that sort of macho language with which it was spoken about was also part of the resistance. So I think a lot of this is a warning against hype. I mean, any organization needs to look at its process. And some strategies need a change in process. Some processes lead to a change in strategy. But it's all these things, this belief that you've got the winning formula that will be the key to everything that's often the cause of trouble. BORIS: Thank you everyone. Please join me in thanking Sir Lawrence Freedman. [APPLAUSE]

Ancient Rome

Cinerary urn for the freedman Tiberius Claudius Chryseros and two women, probably his wife and daughter

Rome differed from Greek city-states in allowing freed slaves to become plebeian citizens.[1] The act of freeing a slave was called manumissio, from manus, "hand" (in the sense of holding or possessing something), and missio, the act of releasing. After manumission, a slave who had belonged to a Roman citizen enjoyed not only passive freedom from ownership, but active political freedom (libertas), including the right to vote.[2] A slave who had acquired libertas was known as a libertus ("freed person", feminine liberta) in relation to his former master, who was called his or her patron (patronus).

As a social class, freed slaves were liberti, though later Latin texts used the terms libertus and libertini interchangeably.[3] Libertini were not entitled to hold public office or state priesthoods, nor could they achieve legitimate senatorial rank. During the early Empire, however, freedmen held key positions in the government bureaucracy, so much so that Hadrian limited their participation by law.[4] Any future children of a freedman would be born free, with full rights of citizenship.

The Claudian Civil Service set a precedent whereby freedmen could be used as civil servants in the Roman bureaucracy. In addition, Claudius passed legislation concerning slaves, including a law stating that sick slaves abandoned by their owners became freedmen if they recovered. The emperor was criticized for using freedmen in the Imperial Courts.

Some freedmen enjoyed enormous success and became quite wealthy. The brothers who owned House of the Vettii, one of the biggest and most magnificent houses in Pompeii, are thought to have been freedmen. A freedman who became rich and influential might still be looked down on by the traditional aristocracy as a vulgar nouveau riche. Trimalchio, a character in the Satyricon of Petronius, is a caricature of such a freedman.


Arabian and North African slavery

For centuries, Arab slave traders took and transported an estimated 10 to 15 million native Africans to slavery in North Africa and the Middle East. They also enslaved Europeans (known as Saqaliba) from coastal areas and the Balkans. The slaves were predominantly women. Many Arabs took women slaves as concubines in their harems. In the patrilineal Arab societies, the mixed-race children of concubines and Arab men were considered free. They were given inheritance rights related to their fathers' property. No studies have been done of the influence of African-Arab descendants in the societies.[citation needed]

United States

Former African slave with horn historically used to call slaves, Texas, 1939. Photo by Russell Lee.

In the United States, the terms "freedmen" and "freedwomen" refer chiefly to former African slaves emancipated during and after the American Civil War by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. African Slaves freed before the war (usually by individual manumissions, often in wills) were generally referred to as "free Negroes" or "free Blacks". In addition, there was a population of African Americans born free.

The great majority of families of free African people recorded in the U.S. census in the Upper South in the first two decades after the Revolutionary War have been found to have descended from unions between European American women (indentured servants or free) and African men (whether indentured servants, slave or free) in colonial Virginia. According to the legal principle of partus sequitur ventrem, in the slave colonies (later states) children were born into the social status of their mothers; thus, mixed-race children of white women were born free.[5] Such free families of color tended to migrate to the frontier of Virginia and other Upper South colonies, and then west into Kentucky, the future West Virginia, and Tennessee.[5] In addition, during the first two decades after the Revolution, slaveholders freed thousands of slaves in the Upper South, inspired by revolutionary ideals. Most Northern states abolished slavery, some on a gradual basis.

In Louisiana and other areas of the former New France, free African people were classified in French as gens de couleur libres. They were generally born to African or mixed-race mothers and European American fathers of ethnic French or other European ancestry. The fathers sometimes freed their children and sexual partners, leading to the growth of the community of Creoles of color, or free people of color. New Orleans had the largest community of free people of color, well-established before the U.S. acquired Louisiana. The French and Spanish colonial rulers had given the free people of color more rights than most free Black people had in the American South.

In addition, there were sizable communities of free African people in French Caribbean colonies, such as Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) and Guadeloupe. Due to the violence of the Haitian Revolution, many free people of color, who were originally part of the revolution, fled the island as refugees after being attacked by slave rebels, particularly in the north of the island. Some went first to Cuba, from where they immigrated to New Orleans in 1808 and 1809 after being expelled when Napoleon invaded Spanish territory in Europe. Many brought slaves with them. Their numbers strengthened the French-speaking community of enslaved African peoples, as well as the free people of color. Other refugees from Saint-Domingue settled in Charleston, Savannah, and New York.


The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 declared all enslaved persons in the Confederacy—states in rebellion and not under the control of the Union—to be permanently free. It did not end slavery in the five border states that had stayed in the Union. African Slavery elsewhere was abolished by state action, or with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in December of 1865. The Civil Rights Act of 1866, passed over the veto of President Andrew Johnson, gave the formerly enslaved full citizenship (except for voting) in the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment was passed to make clear that Congress had the legal authority to do so. The Fifteenth Amendment gave voting rights to all adult males; only adult males had the franchise among European Americans. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments are known as the "civil rights amendments", the "post-Civil War amendments", and the "Reconstruction Amendments".

To help freedmen transition from slavery to freedom, including a free labor market, President Abraham Lincoln created the Freedmen's Bureau, which assigned agents throughout the former Confederate states. The Bureau also founded schools to educate freedmen, both adults and children; helped freedmen negotiate labor contracts; and tried to minimize violence against freedmen. The era of Reconstruction was an attempt to establish new governments in the former Confederacy and to bring freedmen into society as voting citizens. Northern church bodies, such as the American Missionary Association and the Free Will Baptists, sent teachers to the South to assist in educating freedmen and their children, and eventually established several colleges for higher education. U.S. Army occupation soldiers were stationed throughout the South via military districts enacted by the Reconstruction Acts; they protected freedmen in voting polls and public facilities from violence and intimidation by white Southerners, which were common throughout the region.

Native American Freedmen

The Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, and Creek Nation were among those Native American tribes that held enslaved Africans before and during the American Civil War.[6] They supported the Confederacy during the war, supplying some warriors in the West, as they were promised their own state if the Confederacy won. After the end of the war, the U.S. required these tribes to make new peace treaties, and to emancipate their African slaves. They were required to offer full citizenship in their tribes to those freedmen who wanted to stay with the tribes. Numerous families had intermarried by that time or had other personal ties. If freedmen left the tribes, they would become U.S. citizens.

Cherokee Freedmen

In the late 20th century, the Cherokee Nation voted for restrictions on membership to only those descendants of people listed as "Cherokee by blood" on the Dawes Rolls of the early 20th century, a decision that excluded most Cherokee Freedmen (by that time this term referred to descendants of the original group). In addition to arguing that the post-Civil War treaties gave them citizenship, the freedmen have argued that the Dawes Rolls were often inaccurate, recording as freedmen even those individuals who had partial Cherokee ancestry and were considered Cherokee by blood. The Choctaw freedmen and Creek freedmen have similarly struggled with their respective tribes over the terms of citizenship in contemporary times. The tribes have wanted to limit those who can benefit from tribal citizenship, in an era in which gaming casinos are yielding considerable revenues for members. The majority of members of the tribes have voted to limit membership. Descendants of freedmen, however, maintain that their rights to citizenship granted under the post-Civil War treaties should be restored. In 2017, the Cherokee freedmen were granted citizenship again in the tribe.[7][8][9]


Many convicted people from the United Kingdom were sentenced to be transported to Australia between 1788 and 1868. Also, many came from the United Kingdom and Europe voluntarily, planning to settle in Australia, some as pastors and missionaries, others seeking to make a living by trade or farming. When convicts finished their sentence, they were freed and referred to as "freedmen" or "freed men". However, many of these who were freed wanted to claim the label "free men". But those who had come freely to Australia wanted to reserve the label "free men" exclusively for themselves, distinguishing themselves above those who had been "freed".[10]

See also


  1. ^ "Slaves & Freemen". PBS.
  2. ^ Millar, Fergus (1998–2002). The Crowd in Rome in the Late Republic. University of Michigan. pp. 23 & 209.
  3. ^ Mouritsen, Henrik (2011). The Freedman in the Roman World. Cambridge University Press. p. 36.
  4. ^ Berger, Adolf (1953). libertinus, Encyclopedic Dictionary of Roman Law. American Philological Society. p. 564.
  5. ^ a b Heinegg, Paul (1995–2005). Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware.
  6. ^ Walker, Mark; Cameron, Chris (October 8, 2021). "After Denying Care to African Natives, Indian Health Service Reverses Policy". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Cherokee Nation v. Raymond Nash, et al. and Marilyn Vann, et al. and Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior ruling, August 30, 2017".
  8. ^ "Judge Rules That Cherokee Freedmen Have Right To Tribal Citizenship". npr. 2017-08-31. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  9. ^ "Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree issues statement on Freedmen ruling, August 31, 2017 (Accessible in PDF format as of September 8, 2017" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 16, 2018. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  10. ^ pp. 89-95. Laugesen, Amanda. Convict words: Language in early colonial Australia. Oxford University Press, USA, 2002.
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