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Do We Still Need Spies? This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

WARNING: The following article contains content from the James Bond movie Skyfall.


After seeing Skyfall twice in theaters I was spurred to answer the question that serves as the premise of the film; “Do we still need spies?” In the movie the British Government wants to label MI6, the British Secret Service, an irrelevant department. I do not agree with this. No military intelligence agency can ever be named irrelevant, especially by their own government. The fact of the matter is that no matter how far surveillance and military technology goes, as M says there will always be a battle “in the shadows. That's where we must do battle”. In history espionage has almost always worked, whether it be in times of crisis, war or stalemate, the intelligence that has given an advantage, is that which was brought in by men and women with a love of country and a great mind. Where technology has and will fail, there will always be those who go above and beyond the call of duty, because it is human intelligence not artificial that is the most reliable.

As M says “our enemies are no longer known to us. They do not exist on a map, they're not nations, they're individuals. Look around you, who do you fear? Do you see a face, a uniform, a flag? ” this thought is the most worrying, because it is the most true. In World War II it was easy to decipher who was the enemy by the flag they had upon their lapel, or the uniform they wore. The same can be said for the Cold War and it has been true up until today, and it is today that we need the spies the most, after all it did work in history. During the Second World War both the Allies and the Axis sent spies into enemy territory to retrieve dire information. Without spies the United States would never have been able to find out where Enigma Machine was and would never have gotten it from the Germans. With it the Americans cracked the new German code which had been updated after 1938 six years after agents from the Polish Cipher Bureau, another intelligence agency, had cracked the code. This machine gave an edge to the allies for intercepting intelligence and decoding it. Throughout the Cold War when peaceful negotiations went nowhere with the Soviet Union, it was spies not ambassadors who were the proxies for NATO and vise versa. The Cold War has many cases of espionage one in particular was the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case in which two American citizens were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union during project codenamed: Venona and sending documents to the Soviets. We needed spies to fight back the espionage of our enemies then, and we need it now, so as not to fall behind and risk loosing all of our secrets. Today however the enemy is literally cloaked in deceit, especially in the Middle East where terrorists dress as civilians. Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency has stepped up to be one of the best intelligence agencies in the world. Whether it be the covert assassination missions in response to the 1972 Munich Olympic games, or their current undercover agents in Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Mossad has always relied on agents. Proving that today, spying still works as a method of amassing foreign intelligence, especially in today’s world when it is a single terrorist surrounded by followers that poses the biggest threat. It is not a spy plan that will infiltrate and bring the threat down. When confronted by his quartermaster Q about age James Bond replies “youth is no guarantee of innovation. Q: Well, I'll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field. James Bond: Oh, so why do you need me? Q: Every now and then a trigger has to be pulled. James Bond: Or not pulled. It's hard to know which in your pajamas.” This scene of witty banter holds the truth; while in today’s world technology is far more deadly than a spy with a few rounds and his training, a machine cannot make the decisions and gather intelligence as a human could. Ending with this; Spies are not outdated. History has always needed men in the shadows to do the dirty work of governments and discover the truth behind them, and history will continue to call on these types of men to do what is right; for “God, Queen and Country.”



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