The S. T. Lee Distinguished Annual Lecture by Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies, King’s College London
Why Do Governments Find Strategy So Difficult?
Governments are regularly told that they need more or better strategy as if this is the magic ingredient that will bring coherence and give direction to their policies. At times of great national emergency this may be possible but in normal times this is difficult for a number of reasons. As the status quo may be generally satisfactory there may be no inspirational vision on offer; different parts of government have their own aims and objectives and an attempt to satisfy them all will result in a lack of coherence; even if there is a clear strategy governments may not wish to reveal too much publicly; there are a range of ideas of what a good strategy will look like. A good strategy will be shown to be one that addresses a clear problem rather than reaches out for distant objectives and maintains a degree of flexibility in implementation.
About the Speaker:
Lawrence Freedman has been Professor of War Studies at King’s College London since 1982, and was Vice-Principal from 2003 to 2013. He was educated at Whitley Bay Grammar School and the Universities of Manchester, York and Oxford. Before joining King’s he held research appointments at Nuffield College Oxford, IISS and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1995 and awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1996, he was appointed Official Historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997. He was awarded the KCMG (Knight Commander of St Michael and St George) 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. Among his books are Kennedy’s Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam (2000), The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (3rd edition 2004), Deterrence (2005), the two volume Official History of the Falklands Campaign (second edition 2007) and an Adelphi Paper on The Transformation in Strategic Affairs (2004). A Choice of Enemies: America confronts the Middle East, won the 2009 Lionel Gelber Prize and Duke of Westminster Medal for Military Literature. His most recent book is Strategy: A History (2013).
He is married to Professor Judith Freedman and has a son, Sam, and a daughter, Ruth.