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Eurotrash talking

Friday, 25 October, 2013

Speaking recently on France Info radio, former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, “The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us.” He added: “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else.” The difference, he noted, is that “we don’t have the same means as the United States — which makes us jealous.”

The faux outrage of the Europeans here is hilarious. And so is their notion of security. After all, if the NSA can listen in to Angela Merkel’s phone, others can as well. France is pretty good at this kind of thing and Russia and China are nifty, too. In “Why the NSA spies on France and Germany“, Marc Ambinder nails it:

“Of course, Brazil, France, Germany, and Mexico do exactly the same thing. They want their leaders to gain a decision advantage in the give and take between countries. They want to know what U.S. policymakers will do before the Americans do it. And in the case of Brazil and France, they aggressively spy on the United States, on U.S. citizens and politicians, in order to collect that information. The difference lies in the scale of intelligence collection: The U.S. has the most effective, most distributed, most sophisticated intelligence community in the West. It is Goliath. And other countries, rightly in their mind, are envious.”

Espionage has been part of diplomacy and statecraft since the days of Sun Tzu. “It is essential to seek out enemy agents who have come to conduct espionage against you and to bribe them to serve you,” he observed. “Give them instructions and care for them. Thus doubled agents are recruited and used.”

The former Chinese consul in Sydney, Chen Yonglin, who defected to Australia in 2005, said that China had 1,000 operatives spying in Australia at the time. Quoting the thinking of Sun Tzu, he told Australian officials that espionage is not an “add-on” to Chinese thinking. Rather, it is part of China’s strategic doctrine. Since the days of Sun Tzu, the aim of Chinese rulers has been to gain maximum advantage with minimum conflict. Winning by strategy is preferable to winning by war. Part of that strategy today is Big Data. Just ask the Canadians. They’re doing it, too.


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