The Spies Who Came in from the Cold
Well, it seems the Obama administration lied to us yet again. In fact, when one discovers that the Obama administration, which assured us until yesterday that no such thing had been planned in advance, already envisioned this spy swap a full month before the FBI made ten arrests, one develops a queasy feeling of déjà vu. It reminds one of Bush assuring us until the bombs began falling on Baghdad on March 19, 2003 that all options were still on the table when in fact a decision to go to war had already been made the previous July. It makes one think of Bush also telling us that he was going to stick with Rummy up until election day 2006, the day before Rummy was ousted as Defense Secretary.
And, really, did any of us cynical folk actually believe Obama when he began his administration with that pious bilge about "transparency in government"?
And could we really expect the increasingly tabloid mainstream media to not trip over their dicks to put a Robert Ludlum patina on a story that's really just a throwback to the height of the Cold War in the 50's? Hell, they even posted a picture of Anna Chapman, the all-but-inevitable sex symbol of this spy "scandal", in a red dress.
"Back-to-the-future plan"? OK, I'll endure yet another cultural movie reference to amend that to "back-to-the-past plan." All it needed was James fucking Bond swilling a vodka martini while ogling Anna Chapman and her tight red dress.
It was a mutually-canceling chess move, plain and simple, and both Medvedev and Obama yelled "Check!" at precisely the same moment. It was beautifully choreographed high stakes diplomacy and international statesmanship full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. In fact, if you look at it from a sheer nose count perspective, it looks as if we got the shitty end of the deal because the west gets back four of its spies while Russia gets back ten of their sleeper agents, not including their spouses and kids.
But from a purely intelligence asset standpoint, it doesn't work that way. One Kim Philby or Robert Hanssen is worth 100 of these low-level idiots. These aren't the spooks who haunt the other side the most. This was an intercontinental chess game using only pawns or rather a game of checkers already preordained and guaranteed to end in an amicable stalemate. It was meant to say, "We know your guys are spying on us and you know our spies are spying on you."
Check but no checkmate. Iran's been pulling the same shit for years now except Russia and America trade real spies, not manufactured ones.
But, in the end, all it revealed is that Russia and the United States are still playing their high-level gamesmanship using a Cold War template straight out of a 50 year-old novel by John le Carré. And, in an age in which Star Wars missile defense systems are hotly debated between the two countries, this Cold War mindset, this reprise of spy exchanges straight out of the Dulles/Eisenhower era, at least strongly suggests why both countries failed and will fail in Afghanistan and every other country that they'll invade.
If any of those 14 spies were actually worth the sweat on Kim Philby's balls, none of them would've been arrested. It was a magnificent display of window dressing replete with trenchcoats, cloaks and daggers but one ultimately proving nothing save for an ossified mindset tragically unequipped to deal with the actual root of our national security woes.