SpyCast 6.13.23
Ep 590 | 6.13.23

“Spies: The Epic Intelligence War Between East vs. West” – with Calder Walton


Andrew Hammond: Welcome to SpyCast, the official podcast of the International Spy Museum. I'm your host, Dr. Andrew Hammond, the museum's historian and curator. Each week, we explore some aspect of the world of intelligence and espionage, a vast ecosystem that looms beneath the surface of everyday life. Coming up next on SpyCast.

Calder Walton: My focus essentially about 100- year intelligence war that's been going on between Russia and the Western powers. And this war continued pretty much continuously, even when the Western powers thought that things were improving with Russia. So during the second world war, the Soviet Union was the allies of the Western powers in the grand alliance. The Western powers thought they were the genuine allies of the Soviet Union. Stalin had a very different perspective, and actually, we can now see conducted an intelligence onslaught on the Western powers. This also continued this war between Russia and the Western powers after the collapse of the entire Soviet system in 1991.

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Andrew Hammond: Calder Walton is the author of a new book that is making a lot of waves. SPIES: The Epic Intelligence War Between East and West. Calder is a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School where he has a particular focus on how intelligence history can generate lessons that help policymakers navigate the messy complexity of the contemporary world. He's the editor of a multivolume book on the history of espionage and intelligence and has previously worked as a researcher for a book on the authorized history of MI5. In this episode, we discuss how the Cold War began in 1918 [inaudible] 1947, how the Cold War continues to this day and didn't end in 1991, how the KGB never really went away, how Britain has hijacked Russia, and how China is a much more dangerous Communist adversary than the Soviet Union ever was. I remind you that you can support us for free. Yes, that's right, bupkis, zilch, zero, nada, diddly squat, not a sausage by, A, telling a friend or loved one about the podcast, or B, giving us a five-star review. The original podcast on intelligence since 2006, we are SpyCast. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. I really enjoyed your book. And I thought it was a really good overview of a century of intelligence. And I think that it will be really useful for a lot of SpyCast listeners to listen to the podcast, but also to buy the book and read up because you cover so much ground, and you actually touch a lot of the ground that we cover here at the museum, the Lockhart Plot, the Strolioto [phonetic], Pankosfky [phonetic], Philby, John Walker. So we can almost map this book onto our museums. But also congratulations.

Calder Walton: Well, Andrew, thank you very much. It's great to be here. And I really enjoyed writing the book. And I hope that it brings some new perspective to stories that are even fairly well known in the public domain. But as you said, nothing beats walking around your museum and actually looking at the artifacts of the stories that we all write about in black and white. It's still, I think, the best way to actually understand intelligence history.

Andrew Hammond: Yeah, and it's a shame that we can only do one podcast on this. It could easily be a six parter. So, I've read your book, really enjoyed it, as I say. I feel like I know what it's about. But I think that the best person to summarize it is not me, but you. So could you just tell our listeners what's your book about?

Calder Walton: My book is essentially about a hundred year intelligence war that's been going on between Russia and the Western powers. And this war continued pretty much continuously even when the Western powers thought that things were improving with Russia. So during the second world war, the Soviet Union was the allies of the Western powers in the grand alliance. The Western powers thought they were the genuine allies of the Soviet Union. Stalin had a very different perspective, and actually, we can now see conducted an intelligence onslaught on the Western powers. This also continued this war between Russia and the Western powers after the collapse of the entire Soviet system in 1991. As I said, it's been going on for 100 years, more or less continuously. And this epic story, this narrative, I think, provides a stark warning of the new superpower challenge and intelligence onslaught that's coming. Yes, from Russia today, Putin's Russia, but also even more importantly from China.

Andrew Hammond: And, oh, be good to discuss China later on, because you describe China like the Soviet Union on steroids.

Calder Walton: That's right.

Andrew Hammond: And we'll talk about the difference between Cold War 1.0 and 2.0, just to get a sense of the sweep of your book. How does this come about? Why does this Cold War breakout we know that there's debates that historians have after the second world war, or some people have said it was a Russian revolution, some people have said 1947. You mention in the book that the effect of a GRU cipher clerk, Gouzenko. He's been called the man who started the Cold War. So there's all of these debates, but where do you pick up the story? How does it develop?

Calder Walton: Well, it seems to me, and I should say first of all that one of the motivations of writing this was the succession of Russian intelligence scandals that appeared in the recent years in the news from election meddling to cyberattacks and so on. And it all seems very new. But the more I looked at the history, I had this itch, if you'd like, to say, well, where did all this start? And to answer your question, it seems to me that in 1917 onwards, you have two essentially incompatible, ideologically incompatible regimes in the West and the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union. And the Bolsheviks were extremely weak and fragile in their power in the early years, which made their foreign intelligence collection all the more aggressive. Often, we find, I don't need to tell you this, Andrew, but we find the weaker states that have the more aggressive form of foreign intelligence. And so the more I looked at this, the more I realized that actually what we think is the Cold War that we learn about in schoolbooks, starting after 1945, maybe starting in 1947 with the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan and so on and so forth. Actually, this, what we find was that there was an ideological battle with intelligence agencies at the front line before the second world war. And really what we find is these big momentous events after the second world war was the Western powers, principally the United States, readjusting to a challenge from the Soviet Union that they were already in, but they just didn't know about it.

Andrew Hammond: You outline in the book how whenever the West dials back on the aggressiveness of their espionage with regards to their focused wars, the Soviet Union, and then later Russia, that's actually when the Soviet Union [inaudible] Russia dials up. It's not like the West dials it back and they dial it back. They just see that as an opportunity to dial up.

Calder Walton: That's exactly right. It seems to be exactly the case that, I mean, two moments come to mind for exactly that. First being the period of Detente in the 1970s. Well, there's a debate about when Detente started, but let's say it started in the -- let's say it's the 1970s, an easing or thawing of relations between the Soviet Union and Western powers. And the U.S. government opened up trade alliances and so on and so forth with the Soviet Union allowed for greater commercial cooperation with the hope that actually exposure to Western commerce would change the Soviet Union's policies. We can debate about the extent to which it did so. But what we can certainly say for certain is that the Soviet intelligent services, principally the KGB, saw this as an opportunity of pushing at an open door to collect massive, massive amounts of science and technological intelligence from the West, particularly the United States. So industrial scale espionage being conducted during Detente. And then, as you said, with the dialing back of relations, most clearly after 1991, when the Soviet Union had collapsed, and famously in the West, a lot of policymakers and thinkers considered this to be the end of history, that Western capitalism had triumphed. We did -- Communism and the Soviet Union was consigned into the dust bin of history, as the saying goes. On the contrary, the remnants of the KGB soon coalesced into new agencies with an aggressive vendetta against the United States. And it seems to me that one of the least appreciated chapters is how in the post Cold War years, the Russian government continued running former Soviet agents deep inside the Western governments, particularly in the U.S. intelligence community. So it was business as usual. So, the idea that the Cold War simply finished with the Soviet Union collapsing in 1991, that's how it looked in the West, it looked very different if you were in the Kremlin at that time and you were a spy chief in particular. And I think, Andrew, that that period, we are all living through the consequences of that period right now with Putin, because this is exactly the revanchist vendetta driven elements of the KGB that Putin grew out of at that time. I'm afraid that looking at this long history of easing relations between east and west, but a continuation of the intelligence war that was going on silently, largely from Russia against Western powers, my conclusion, unfortunately, Andrew, is that looking at this large sweep of history, that we have not so much a Putin problem today, but a Russia problem. And the Russia problem has been persistent over this hundred years, which is why it makes me very cautious about speculation you see in the news today of if you remove Putin, things will get better. Unfortunately, it seems to me that Putin, the people he surrounds himself with in the Kremlin, are all cut from this very similar cloth as he is, same background, same outlook. He is far from unique amongst the people he associates with. In fact, some of them are much more hardline than him, and perhaps have clearer heads. So, we, as I said, Andrew, it seems to me we have a Russia problem, not a Putin problem.

Andrew Hammond: And looking at this in the grand sweep, you've been doing this for seven years of research and writing. So, you're a really good person to ask this question. Could it have been otherwise, you know, this is a great question for a couple of historians to discuss. And there's different views on counterfactuals. But let's just say Putin is not identified after the Cold War ends, let's say that it goes to someone else, you know, you talk about the interaction between structural forces and the book on human agency. So, could it have been different or were there too many structural factors that were pushing us in this direction that it wouldn't have mattered? Yeah, help us understand that.

Calder Walton: Well, I'm a big believer in, yes, that there are structural forces that push history forwards. But I'm also a big believer that people, that we make our own destiny, and that nothing is inevitable. So to answer your really good question, there were forks in the road, which, you know, with hindsight, with a bit more luck, or a bit more pushing, could have made history go differently, future history. For me, the most revealing moment in this context, actually that relates to some files, some British foreign office files that were declassified just last year, and I managed to get hold of them just before, as I was finishing the book. And they were released under the 30 year rule, so they relate to the early 1990s; '91, '92. And one of the foreign office files is about Russia's intelligence services, the new intelligence service. And in the file, the MI6 head of station in Moscow at the time, John Scarlett, who went on to become a chief of MI6, he's working under diplomatic cover in the British Embassy in Moscow. And he writes back to London Foreign Office and says that for the first time in history, the Russian government is placing some sort of independent political oversight over its intelligence, its new intelligence services, what was quickly called the SVR and the FSB. And he said this is groundbreaking. Nothing like this has happened in the Soviet period. And in the margin actually ironically your listeners will find this funny, someone in Whitehall, in the Foreign Office, wrote maybe the Russian government can advise us about how to do this for our own intelligence services, because MI6 and GCHQ weren't given statutory footing until 1994. So the Russian government was actually doing this ahead of the British government. Scarlett says in his reports back to London, this was unprecedented, this looked good, but he was very cautious about the actual outlook. He said that it all depends on where the Kremlin leader, Yeltsin at that time, would break with the entire history of the Soviet Russian state, and not interfere in their intelligence services, and not use them as political beasts. So here we are at a fork in the road. Would Yeltsin and the people, and in particular intelligence Chiefs, not really break with all of that tradition and not see them as some political tools, monsters, we might say? Scarlett's pessimism was proved right, unfortunately, because the intelligence services and the political masters in the Kremlin quickly saw them as indispensable for Yeltsin's government. And it's, as I said, out of that stew that Putin emerged, becoming head of the FSB in 1998. And then to everyone's surprise, including he himself, Putin, becoming Russia's leader at the end of the century.

Andrew Hammond: And help me understand, Calder, why this epic intelligence war continued? So it's born of who mutually and compatible ideological systems, but then one of those systems disappears, or the ideological system disappears, obviously the nationalistic elements of Russia seeing itself as a particular type of state on the world stage, those things continued. But the ideological nature of this animist disappears. So, if that's what it took to begin it, why does it stop? Or are we really just talking about during the entirety of this long Cold War that you describe, by the time we get to the end of it, it's a machine, you can take away the ideological component, but it's just a machine that's running by itself at that point. There's the structure is there, the intelligence and security apparatus there, so it's going to continue, regardless, minus the ideological aspect. Yeah, just help me understand how you kind of understand the continuation of the conflict after 1991.

>> The way that I see it and I'm understanding it, through interviews and through looking at declassified records, is that, yes, the machine was, as you sort of illustrated, to a certain extent, running itself. But the primary motivation for an aggressive foreign intelligence policy on the part of Russia in the 1990s was quickly becoming revenge. So the Soviet Union, in this narrative, did not collapse under its own weight. It wasn't a knight dying in its own armor, as John le Carre put it. But rather was the victim of a massive conspiracy of sabotage, principally by the CIA, and by traitors within, that the Soviet Union collapsed, and Russia was no longer a great power. It was humiliated on the world stage. Even worse than humiliated, it was bankrupt, with people starving on the streets. Russia's place in destiny had been foiled by hidden outside hands. This was the narrative in the 1990s within the SVR and the FSB. So you have -- the ideology is gone, as you said. But now ideology has been replaced by a different type of ideology, which is the desire to become a resurgent great power. And that still exists today. But I would like to make one, I think, corrective to the idea that this is about great powers. Your question really goes to the heart of this, of was the Soviet Union just a great power by another name, and the ideology wasn't perhaps that important? And that perhaps in that narrative, when the Soviet Union disappeared into history, we're still left with Russia wanting to be a great power. So maybe that was the cause all along. We can debate that until the cows come home. But it seems to me that there's a significant corrective that needs to be made about the notion that Russia is a great power today. Of course, it wants to be a great power. But I think that the phraseology that you hear in particularly Washington about the resurgent great power, great power of competition, it's far too polite when it comes to Russia. Russia is effectively under Putin, a Mafia state. He runs it not so much as a great power, but as a Mafia syndicate. And he uses the FSB in order to conduct massive state run corruption and money laundering schemes for his own personal enrichment and those of the Russian oligarchs. So the phraseology of great power politics, I think, does disservice to really the ugly reality and criminality of Putin's gangster regime. He wants it to be seen as a great power. But, in fact, since coming to power at the turn of the century, he's been the hooligan of international relations.

Andrew Hammond: I had just done some research before the interview, just to compare the trajectory of the United States and Russia since the Cold War. At present, Russia's GDP, you know, there's all different ways we could compare this. So economists and statisticians give us some grace. But Russia, we're talking about just over $12,000 GDP per capita. The United States we're talking about $63,000. So a huge disparity. And then the Russian population sends the Cold War, and indeed sends the dissolution of the Soviet Union, as went down by 2%, which doesn't seem like a lot, although it's lost 2 million people since the War in Ukraine began as well. But the U.S. population at the same time has increased by 33%. So an additional third. Where if we want to talk about great powers in history, it's by no means comparable to the United States. If anything, the United States is stronger than it was at the end of the Cold War, and Russia is weaker than it was. So I think the terminology is important, right?

Calder Walton: I think that's absolutely right. And, you know, even in the heyday of the Soviet Union, it was effectively a superpower with nuclear weapons, but with a "Third World country" attached to it. So its life expectancy, quality of living, are all comparable to the poorest countries in Western Europe or parts of the Third World. Russia has a relatively small economy, as you've said. It produces essentially very little of what the rest of the world wants, apart from oil and gas. For those exact reasons, it's -- because it's more in terms of economic weight, I think that that is exactly the reason that has led to, because of its insecurity, led to more aggressive foreign intelligence policy that we're seeing play out. I think it's also worth pointing out that Putin has, unfortunately, done a good job of sanction proofing his economy. So, actually, I mean, the statistics, although Russia's economy is small, you know, in a sort of middle ranking Western European country, for a poor country in Western Europe, we should say, he has sanction proofed the Russian economy between 2014 and the present day, which has meant that the Russian economy has coped far better than, I think, most people were expecting from the sanctions after the start of the War in Ukraine. And now, of course, Putin has allied himself in an agreement with no limits to the world's true new superpower, China.

Andrew Hammond: Where does this resentment come from? Where does this sense of righteous victimhood come from, the insecurity that you speak about? And I know that we've seen it during Putin, and since the Cold War ended. But, you know, you could argue that we've seen a like way back when. It's always interesting to me as someone who comes from a small country that big countries always invade small countries because of their security. And they always say we're doing this to keep ourselves safe. And the small country is like, well, what about our safety?

Calder Walton: Hang on. What?

Andrew Hammond: So, I'm being a little bit playful. But just help us understand this, you know, and George Cannon talks about this a little bit in the famous long telegram, the nature of the Russian character and the Russian state. How do you understand this?

Calder Walton: Well, there was the Russian character that Cannon so eloquently wrote about. But there was also then the Marxist Leninist dialectic which told the Bolsheviks that the future was theirs, that they were destined, that it was inevitable that the workers of the world would unite, and that there would be a socialist utopia. Now, the reality on the ground was very different, of course. And that Soviet leaders who visited Western countries, Khrushchev famously coming to the United States said, well, you might be rich now, but we're going to be rich in the future. So destiny was on their side. And the problem is when destiny manifests destiny looks very different to the reality in front of you. And I think it's that, as a longstanding thread on Russia's perceived victimhood over the years. In the 1990s, there was much more practical as the Russian economy tanked, and you had former red Army officers begging for food outside of McDonald's and Pizza Hut in Moscow. This is, you know, a striking illustration of both the perceived vulture capitalism of Western countries sweeping in to steal Russia's oil, and, you know, money in the 1990s. And also then feeling of, well, we were once a great power. What the hell has happened? What's going wrong? So to answer your very poignant question, it seems to me that nothing breeds aggression like humiliation. And humiliation was the name of the game for Russia in the 1990s.

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Andrew Hammond: In Calder's book, the Soviet Union is the West's major opponent for most of the 20th century, while China is deemed to be the West's major opponent for the rest of the 21st. The Soviet Union was Communist. And China is, at least on paper, still Communist. To help you digest this episode then, here are a few facts about the state of Communism today. Four countries still officially espouse this doctrine; Cuba in the Western Hemisphere, as well as China and two of its immediate Southeast Asian neighbors, Vietnam and Laos. North Korea is often considered a Communist country, but it no longer considers itself one. Removing all references to the ideology from its Constitution. Remember that not long ago, pretty much all of Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia were one-party Communist states. That Africa had many Communist countries, such as Angola, Mozambique, and Ethiopia, that Central and South America were beset by Communist insurgencies in places such as Guatemala, Columbia and Peru. This is not even to mention those other Communist led states, such as Cambodia, Mongolia, Albania, and Yugoslavia. As powers of force and multiparty states has likewise been on a long ever downward decline. In 1946, for example, the French Communist party had more votes and seats than any other party. Yet in the 2022 elections, they struggled to get 3% of the vote. Their membership, meanwhile, has declined tenfold since the 1970s. And India, meanwhile, the Communist party, [inaudible] the second largest, and primary opposition in the 1957 election. Yet it was 19th by share of seats won in the most recent elections of 2019. At the International Spy Museum, we have a key artifact that speaks to the intellectual history of not just Communism, but the 20th Century, and indeed the modern age, the ice axe that was used to kill Leon Trotsky in a covert operation planned by the NKVD at the behest of Joseph Stalin.

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It's a very interesting period, the 90s, when people were busy, you know, disassembling Soviet studies departments. And everybody thought that it wasn't a problem anymore, it was all going to be fine in the end.

Calder Walton: That's right. One of the most striking interviews I conducted was with a former Czech intelligence STB officer, Larry Bittman, who your listeners might remember or be aware of. He passed away, unfortunately, soon after I interviewed him. And I think he died in 2019. But when I interviewed him in 2018, I asked him what it was like teaching at Boston University about disinformation in the 1990s. And he said, well, in the 1980s, the decade before, it was a heyday. He had to keep people away from his course, you know, it was too many people wanted to know about it. In the 1990s, the university was saying, this is all done now. Like we don't need to worry about this, do we? Well, unfortunately, the first two decades of the 21st century said -- showing that we do still need to worry about this.

Andrew Hammond: In the course of your research, Calder, is there anything that you came across that was really surprising to you or really shocking? So, something that you were like, wow, this is really contrary to everything that I expected?

Calder Walton: Was there something that truly shocked me? I think one of the most shocking documents and revelations I found, which cuts against the Kremlin narrative of some of its heroes of Russian foreign intelligence, relates to the notorious spy in MI6, Kim Philby. And the document that was really shocking to me and surprising was the report that Philby wrote to his bosses in MI6 soon after the defection of Burgess and Maclean. So the hunt was on for the so called two missing diplomats. Nobody knew where they were at that point in 1951. We now know they were actually already behind the Iron Curtain and then the Soviet Union [inaudible] defected. But nobody really knew where they were. Philby knew at this point that his association with Guy Burgess was going to make him a suspect. In the Kremlin's narrative during the Cold War, and then later now even more so in Putin's narrative, Philby stoically didn't say anything and kept schtum about his relationship with Burgess and Maclean and foiled the attempts by British intelligence during interviews to extract anything from him. Not so much as we can now see from MI5's dossiers. Philby, in fact, betrayed Burgess and Maclean to his bosses in MI6, didn't tell the Soviet Union about this, of course. He was actually the one who said there may be something about Burgess and Maclean from their time at university, which meant that one or the other recruited each other, and that maybe they have now, in some way, managed to plant an escape to the Soviet Union. That was what he was doing at the time in order to try to save himself, deflect attention from himself, cast it onto Burgess and Maclean. What we see is that actually Philby, the Kremlin, the KGB's master spy, betrayed everyone. He betrayed the British, he also betrayed his two fellow Soviet agents, Burgess and Maclean. I was pretty alarmed when I read that actually.

Andrew Hammond: And when was it he had done this? What's the timeline?

Calder Walton: 1951.

Andrew Hammond: And there's a few other bombshells that you mention in the book as well, which I think is quite interesting. So you speak about the Russian assassination program. So can you tell us a little bit more about that? And, again, here at the museum, we've got stuff on Skripal and Litvinenko and Yorke Markov and so forth. But help us understand this assassination program over the long sweep of your book.

Calder Walton: Absolutely. So, I think the first thing to say is that Putin has, it seems to me, reactivated the KGB's old assassination program. And he's done so, like the KGB, by assassinating political opponents in Western countries. So Alexander Litvinenko assassinated using radioactive polonium in London in 2006, Sergei Skripal in 2018. These aren't two separate incidents. There's been a slew of other Russian attempted assassinations and assassinations in Western countries. Once again, it would be misleading to see this as something that Putin has created by himself. Being a former KGB officer and its first chief directorate, and having been to the Andropov School where he studied active measures, he knew full well the KGB's long history of eliminating political opponents, chief among whom during the Cold War were Ukrainian nationalists living in exile in Western Europe. And, again, this isn't something that is a distant past for Putin. But, in fact, something that is history that is still alive. So Putin has infamously called Zelensky a Banderite. And Bandera, Stepan Bandera, this is a reference to the famous Ukrainian nationalist who ended up living in West Germany and working with the CIA. The KGB hunted him down and assassinated him using, again, extremely exotic methods of killing him. Putin has called Zelensky a Banderite in direct reference to working with foreign intelligence services. He's a pawn of the West. Stepan Bandera, in a dark period of his own history and Ukraine's history, collaborated with the Nazis for a brief period during the second world war. Bandera's hatred of the Soviet Union was even more so than his hatred of the Nazis, and also his antisemitism, it has to be said. This is why Putin today calls Zelensky a Banderite Neo Nazi. This is a reference to that period. It's entirely unsurprising to see that the Russian government has attempted to assassinate Zelensky. This is exactly what the Kremlin did with Bandera in the 1950s.

Andrew Hammond: You know, during the Cold War, there was this idea that the KGB were 10 feet tall, and they could reach anyone anywhere, and they were super sophisticated about how they had done everything. But if we look at Skripal and Litvinenko, and so forth, I mean, what do you see going on there? Have Russian intelligence agencies, are they just not that good at assassinations anymore, or is it just a case of we don't care if it's sloppy, and we don't care if people trace it back to us, because this is also a marker that we can come and get you, and we just don't care?

Calder Walton: I think that's partly right. And there's this sort of recklessness, an indifference to whether something actually works. This is about sending a message. I think that's the case probably with Putin. We should say first and foremost we don't know because Putin's world view and his internal thinking are notoriously different to understand. But one of the things that I was really struck by researching this book is how actually if you scratch the surface, some of the major Soviet intelligence successes during the Cold War, the profound successes that Putin's Kremlin attach much weight to today, scratch the surface. And some of these major successes were actually derived from the motivation of individual agents, not from the breathtaking masterful espionage trade craft on the part of the Soviet services. So during the Cold War, during the second world war, some of the atomic -- the atom spies that successfully stole the Anglo American plans for the atomic bomb and delivered them to the Kremlin, well, actually Soviet intelligence was finding it hard to keep up with the amount of information that was being thrown their way. So this was actually the motivation of ideologically committed Communists within the atomic bomb project. We also find, scratch the surface that, again, some of the masterful post war Cold War Soviet intelligent successes, like the Cambridge Five, in fact, as I sort of, as I suggested earlier, were derived, again, by the motivation of the individual spies, not the breathtaking trade craft. So key points with the hunt for the Cambridge Five, as the net was closing in on Philby in particular when he was in Washington, he tried to meet up with his Soviet handler who was nowhere to be seen, badly let him down. So this narrative of actually Russian intelligence, past and present, look under the hood, and they're not 10 feet tall. And, in fact, some of the great successes are due to luck, due to the motivation of agents rather than master puppeteers that they want to portray themselves as on the world stage.

Andrew Hammond: And it's an interesting counterfactual if you were to take away the ideological component of the Soviet Union, because this is a major motivator for so many of the Western spies. It's not necessarily sometimes that they're even being recruited. They are going and offering their services because they believe in the cause. So if you take that away, it would be quite interesting to see how effective the intelligence services would have been.

Calder Walton: Absolutely. No, ideologically committed, almost self sacrificing agents. As I said, this was -- they were recruiting themselves in many ways, motivated. And that was, I mean, certainly in the pre war years. So take away that, I think you're absolutely right, that some of the towering successes of Soviet foreign intelligence wouldn't have existed if it wasn't for these ideologically committed agents like Philby and others.

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Andrew Hammond: This is a slightly longer interlude. I think it is really, really important, so please forgive me. The question you may be asking yourself is, so is China really Communist? Great question. But to some extent, it's like asking who are the real Christians; Roman Catholics, Orthodox Greeks, or Ethiopians, Presbyterians, Baptists, or Methodists? Sure, they all refer back to a core text. In this case, the Bible. But interpretations of that text just are different. As indeed are the books that make up the [inaudible]. For example, Catholic Bibles have 73 books. Orthodox Greeks, 79. Orthodox Ethiopians, 81. And Protestant denominations, 66. So are they all Christians, or only some of them? This being said, there are certain things that are incompatible with Christianity. For example, God did not create man. Jesus is not the son of God. There is no life after death. Note that I am not comparing Communism and Christianity, saying that they are similar in substance to one another. I'm merely using one to help us understand other at a deeper level. The question then is, is there a belief that is incompatible with Communist ideology, one that is similar to the three beliefs that I have just mentioned, that just are incompatible with any real understanding of Christianity? The so called architect of modern China, Deng Xiaoping, once stated that it doesn't matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice. But for the founder of Communism, Karl Marx, the man whose writings constitute the canonical body of scientific knowledge for this ideology, it really does matter what color the cat is. One cat can only be a cat that is that color through exploitation. There is a profoundly moral component to the color of the cat, one that cannot just be waved away with a cutesy saying. A key to Communism, then, is a particular understanding of the market, irrespective of state market relations. Communist ideology would dictate that it only matters what kind of market China has, not whether China is a Communist country with a veneer of market economics, or whether it's a [inaudible] country with a nominally Communist government. It is a circle that cannot be squared if we are to stick closely to the fundamentals of the ideology. Something has been squared, of course. We do have a supposed one party state that presides over a more or less kind of market economy. But what we don't have, if we are to take the ideology seriously, at its word, and in line with its canonical text, is a genuine Communist society. This is not a, well, each system of ideas, religious, political, economic, has to be adapted for local conditions on the ground. This is something we see historically, of course. But eviscerating this understanding of the market, the Marxist understanding of the market, is like a practicing Christian saying there is no afterlife. At some point, you need to give the system of beliefs another name, for the old one doesn't hold if you no longer adhere to its core value. Why is this important? Well, it means that we must think carefully about how we understand China, the home of a huge wave of humanity. And, of course, of Chinese espionage. Instead of 1.4 billion ideologically committed Communists, what we essentially have is a country with a rich and complex history that has conjugated so much through the journey of our species that has been hijacked by an ideology that didn't work in practice in China or anywhere else really. But rather than admit this and reform its politics and economics, it has chosen to change the economy by holding onto political power at all costs. Even if that cost is the surrender of the middle initial from its acronym. For Marx, it was all about political economy, both fused together, not to be [inaudible]. Okay, let me give you one example. After the United States, China has more billionaires than anywhere else in the world. Now, I'm pretty sure that someone who is buried in Highgate Cemetery in London with a big bushy beard must be spinning in his grave.

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And I want to just touch on a few of the people that you mention in the book who, I think, are particularly fascinating. So one of the many of our listeners, and many people don't know about is Arthur Martin. And I think that he's just such a fascinating figure. Can you just tell our listeners who he is and why he's important?

Calder Walton: Arthur Martin, good question, was an MI5 officer. He was a skilled MI5 officer. But he was caught up in this conspiracy theory. And it is, I'm saying that not as a sort of term of derision, but it is a conspiracy and it's a theory about MI5's Director General, Roger Hollis. So Martin, Arthur Martin was part of the group that believed that Roger Hollis, the head of MI5, was a Soviet agent. No evidence has emerged from KGB records or Soviet military intelligence archives or interviews to suggest that this was the case. But it's impossible, as with so much else, it's impossible to prove a negative. So it's still possible that Roger Hollis was, in fact, a Russian agent. I don't think he was. I think the evidence suggests that he wasn't. There are series of operations, series of counterespionage investigations under Roger Hollis' watch that if he had been a Russian agent, it seems inexplicable to think that someone would have allowed the British successes that they did in counterespionage investigations if he had really been. And then I'll just, I would also agree with what Ben Macintyre said in his recent book, Agent Sonya, which is I think the most telling evidence that Roger Hollis was not a long term Soviet agent is the fact that this would be an absolutely irresistible propaganda victory for Putin. If it turned out that Russian services had had a head of MI5 as a Soviet agent, we can imagine that Putin would have, considering the state of the world right now, have revealed that in order to humiliate the British government. Arthur Martin was caught up in that and followed the investigations to the end, and was convinced, along with Peter Wright, that Hollis was a Soviet agent.

Andrew Hammond: Another person that I just want to briefly discuss is James Angleton. So, this is linked. So Angleton, Arthur Martin, you know, investigating [inaudible] Peter Wright, the early part of his career, a very gifted scientific intelligence officer trying to drag MI5 into the modern age. Angleton, very brilliant, capable man. But it almost seems like all three of them post Philby just start chasing ghosts for the rest of their career. And they find the ghosts all over the place. So I just wonder if you could talk about that, almost the effect that Philby's defection, that the Cambridge Five had on Western counterintelligence, because it seems to go a bit skewy after that. Do you see that same change?

Calder Walton: I would say, Andrew, not just a bit skewy, goes completely skewy. And this is the so called, we're talking about the so called Angleton monster plot, which is that there are other unidentified Soviet agents lurking within. You're absolutely right, it's the personal level of betrayal felt by James Angleton and the CIA, felt by Peter Wright, felt by Arthur Martin in MI5, the impact of Philby's betrayal on them almost you can say understandably led to this wilderness of mirrors in which how many other Philbys are there out there that we don't know about? And it's a tragedy, it was an absolute tragedy. James Angleton, the head of the CIA, counterintelligence in the 1960s, ended up turning away genuine defectors, believing that they were plants. Both British and U.S. counterintelligence hide themselves in knots as they try to search for other unidentified Philbys. It all stems, Andrew, from your very good point from the sense of personal betrayal. They had been friends with Philby. Well, certainly Angleton, Angleton had been his drinking partner. And actually to have this was like a dagger through the heart. And that's what led to this sort of labyrinthine wilderness of mirrors in which everyone was a potential Soviet source.

Andrew Hammond: And just to very briefly just, you know, try to give them some of the benefit of the doubt, it reminds me of a point that you make in the book about holding to contradictory ideas and mind at the same time. So for example, there were actually Soviet spies in the heart of the American government, but Joe McCarthy was wrong. So you know, that's one example of a contradiction. But the other one was, you know, Angleton, Wright, Martin, they all went down this wilderness of mirrors and saw ghosts everywhere. But as Philby proved, there were actually moles in the heart of the British establishment. So it's not like they were completely delusional to think that there were other people. I mean, a fourth man comes out in '79. The fifth man comes out in 1990. I mean, there's just constant drip, drip, drip of moles being discovered. I can't remember who it was that said it, but they said if Philby is a Soviet mole, then anybody can be a Soviet mole, you know. He is the last person we would ever consider. So by that yardstick, why wouldn't you see Soviet moles everywhere?

Calder Walton: That's right, exactly. And that's the, that is the source of so much problem is that there was a logic there. I mean, there's an old phrase that what's the difference between counterintelligence and lunacy? It's a rolodex. So that's the difference between the two. So you're a lunatic with a rolodex if you're involved in counterintelligence. Now, obviously people listening to this podcast will disagree with that, and I disagree with that, but it's said in jest. Another phrase comes to mind is the Woody Allen line, isn't it, where he's seeing enemies everywhere, a conspiracist. And someone says to the character, Woody Allen's character, well, you know, there's a name for people like you. He said, yeah, I know, observant. So you know, I'm seeing things that you can't see. And there's a monster plot out there. Well, there were genuine conspiracies, as you said. Profound conspiracies. And Soviet intelligence achieved some unprecedented successes in terms of penetration of Western services. But that doesn't mean necessarily that they were unidentified other Soviet agents lurking within. Having said all that, Andrew, there's certainly some very inexplicable and strange developments about Gordievsky and Aldrich Ames, which I touch on in the book.

Andrew Hammond: And let's just go onto China now for the final part of the interview. So we're talking about Russia. It still think it's a great power, but really it's not. It's trying to level the playing field by playing a spoiler role by, you know, electrointerference and so forth. So help us understand the role that China plays in your book. Like what's China doing?

Calder Walton: China, like Russia, viewed America's so called war on terror and the profound shift of intelligence resources and national security resources in the West to counterterrorism after 9/11 as an opportunity to instigate an intelligence offense, proactive offense, against the U.S. and its Western allies with the aim of making China into a great power and a superpower. In 2005, the Ministry of State Security effectively declared war on the U.S. intelligence community. Now, this was at the same moment when there was much discussion in the West about economic liberalization, economic development in China would lead to great liberalization there, and would lead to its incorporation into the -- as a responsible player on the world stage. In fact, when we, and this is through interviews I've had with CIA officers with deep expertise on China, the MSS had no intention, the Ministry of State Security had no intention of playing by the Western rules. They were seeking to overturn and break the rules and supplant the U.S. in Southeast Asia. That was in 2005, 6, 7, when she came, since she has come into power, that grand strategy has become even more aggressive and not looked to just supplant the U.S. in Southeast Asia, but to rival the U.S. on the world stage. And once again, it seems to me that like the first Cold War, intelligence is at the front line of these geopolitical events, a clash. And once again, it seems to me that Western intelligence services are on the back foot against China in a similar way to the way the Western services were with the Soviet Union after 1945. And as you mentioned, I essentially conclude that China's intelligence services are like the KGB on steroids.

Andrew Hammond: And at the end of the book, as well, you outline seven steps that can be taken for the West to [inaudible] to orient itself towards this Cold War 2.0. So we don't have time to go into all seven of the steps, unfortunately. But just generally, how, you know, if you were to give it a grade, how well is U.S. intelligence, you know, making the shifts that you see necessary, whether in regards to our official intelligence, machine learning, cyber, all of these things, would you give a B minus, an A plus? Sorry to get all professor on you, but, you know, this is part of your job. What would you give it? And where, you know, is it moving in that direction, or do you just not even see the shift?

Calder Walton: I think I definitely see the shift. And so if you'd ask me to make the grade a couple years ago, when I first started thinking about this, it was U.S. Congress, according to the congressional inquiries into U.S. intelligence and the threat from China and Chinese intelligence, you know, in 2019, the Congress said that it's wholly unprepared to meet this challenge. So, that then I think we're talking about a grade C or a D. I think things are improving. I think that there are

Andrew Hammond: It's not going to get you into Harvard?

Calder Walton: It's probably not going to get you into Harvard. I think that what I'd like to sort of leave your listeners with, and I think an important corrective, that Cold War II that I think we are, when you see it from intelligence and national security, we are undoubtedly in a cold war. And actually we can all hope that it stays cold and doesn't turn hot. That's my starting point. But that doesn't, of course, mean that it's a simple replay of Cold War I in the 20th century. Cold War II, yes, intelligence and national security are again at the forefront, and spies and spying are right at the forefront. But they're being used in very different ways. So this century's intelligence conflict, as you pointed out, is about data, it's about controlling data, it's about processing data through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. We are, the U.S. government, Western governments, we are in a race, a sprint for AI to process data collected against principally China. We all should hope that Western powers are meeting that challenge. As a historian, I'm not privy to the intricacies of what's going on in terms of using AI within intelligence communities in order to give analysts the best possible data to make decisions. But I am hopeful that U.S. creativity and ingenuity will come through for this challenge as it did in the last Cold War. So what we need is, it seems to me, blue sky thinking in the same way that drove the CIA to pioneer the creation of U 2 spy planes when traditional espionage meant that they couldn't collect intelligence on closed police states behind the Iron Curtain. The CIA came up with the U 2 spy plane. In the same way today the challenge of understanding closed police states, Russia, China, and other regimes, the future of that lies with commercially provided open source intelligence, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. And I think we should all hope, pray that we have the best possible brains doing that.

Andrew Hammond: Well, thanks so much. This has been a lot of fun. I easily could have went on for several more hours. But I think we've done a good job of digging into your book. And congratulations once again.

Calder Walton: Thanks, Andrew. I've really enjoyed our conversation. And please, listeners, if you have any questions or follow ups about the book, I'd love to hear from you, so thank you.

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Andrew Hammond: Thanks for listening to this episode of SpyCast. Please follow us on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Coming up on next week's show.

>> One major difference in North Korea compared to other intelligence agents in different countries may be that North Korea is rigorous in teaching ideological education. It is fundamental at basic curriculum for all NSA agents to be taught the principles of Kimilsungism and Kimjongilism.

Andrew Hammond: If you have feedback, you can reach us by e mail at spycast@spymuseum.org. If you go to our page at thecyberwire.com/podcast/spycast, you can find links to further resources, detailed show notes, and field transcripts. I'm your host, Andrew Hammond. And my podcast content partner is Erin Dietrick. The rest of the team involved in the show is Mike Mincey, Memphis Vaughn III, Emily Coletta, Afua Anokwa, Elliott Pelzman, Tre Hester, and Jen Eiben. This show is brought to you from home of the world's preeminent collection of intelligence and espionage related artifacts, the International Spy Museum.

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