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Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Russian Spy Ring: a Good News / Bad News Story

Thomas L. FriedmanFor Tom Friedman the Russian spy ring story is a good news / bad news one (NY Times). The good news is that another country still believes it's worth spying on America. After all that blah-blah with Post-American era and stuff, this is really refreshing. The bad news is that the country that still believes it is Russia. Neither Finland to spy on the American school system, nor Hong Kong to steal American secrets on regulating financial markets.

Why were Russians interested in spying American secrets? For Tom Friedman the answer could be found in that taste for old-boys games. Building such a sophisticated spy ring in DC and NY gives you the illusion that you still are in the epoch of two super-powers, one on the Potomac and the other on Volga. It's the nostalgia for those times when the KGB agent was meeting sometimes the CIA agent. on the stairs in front of Lincoln Memorial, both of them slightly blasé, both of them slightly tired, both of them aware that the fate of the world was lying on their shoulders, sometimes friends, most of the time enemies, players in the great comedy of history.

Actually you don't need spies to get the American secrets. All you need is a tourist guide to DC. It costs less than $10 (and I can give anyone such a guide for free). The American secret is to be found in the great hall of the Archives, on Constitution Avenue: it's the Bill of Rights; which means, as Tom Friedman puts it, a commitment to individual freedom, free markets, rule of law, great research universities and a culture that celebrates immigrants and innovators.


Well, Mr. Friedman has a great sense of humor. Is he also right? Up to a certain point, I think. Russia still matters and it's not only vodka, balalaika and Kalashnikov. And American-Russian relations are still very relevant. I'd like to invite you to read also an op-ed of David Ignatius, from Washington Post: In From the Cold? U.S. - Russian Relations.

Zoon Politikon)

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