War and Politics in the 21st Century with Sir Lawrence Freedman
Sir Lawrence Freedman is the UK’s leading expert on military strategy and the go-to voice since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine for his clear-sighted analysis of the conflict.
On October 6 he comes to Intelligence Squared to discuss the themes of his new book Command: The Politics of Military Operations from Korea to Ukraine. Throughout history, he will explain, the concept of command – as both a way to achieve objectives and as an assertion of authority – has been essential to military action and leadership. But, as he will show, it is also deeply political.
Taking us through a wide range of conflicts since 1945 – from the French Colonial Wars, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Falklands War, the Iraq War and Russia’s wars in Chechnya and Ukraine – he will explore the tension between military decision-making and civilian priorities and argue that commanders must now have the sensibility to navigate politics as well as warfare. He will examine issues such as insubordination and obedience, the tensions that can develop between the levels of command, and the significant differences between autocratic and democratic systems.
Freedman will also argue that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated the gap between formal command structures and the practice of war. And reflecting on the irony that President Putin’s nemesis, Volodymyr Zelensky, is a politician with no background in warfare, he will show that authority – whether among civilians or generals – is something to be earned, not taken for granted.