Sunday, September 14, 2008

LeCarre: I considered defecting

Not exactly a shock. AP:
British espionage writer John Le Carre said he was tempted to defect to the Soviet Union when he worked for British intelligence agency MI6, according to an interview published today.

In an interview with The Sunday Times [My link, of course. Think AP would include one?], the 76-year-old novelist was quoted as saying he was curious about what was on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

"I wasn't tempted ideologically," he was quoted as saying.

"But when you spy intensively and you get closer and closer to the border ... it seems such a small step to jump ... and you know, find out the rest." . . .
Such a small step. How nuanced. How morally ambivalent.
Le Carre is also known for his outspoken criticism of U.S. foreign policy. In an open letter to U.S. voters in 2004 he called the invasion of Iraq a "hare-brained adventure" and called on Americans to boot Bush from office.
LeCarre's open letter was part of the Guardian's infamous 2004 effort to get its readers to write to voters in Clark County, Ohio, and urge them to vote for John Kerry. A little quoteski:
Probably no American president in all history has been so universally hated abroad as George W Bush: for his bullying unilateralism, his dismissal of international treaties, his reckless indifference to the aspirations of other nations and cultures, his contempt for institutions of world government, and above all for misusing the cause of anti-terrorism in order to unleash an illegal war - and now anarchy - upon a country that like too many others around the world was suffering under a hideous dictatorship, but had no hand in 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction, and no record of terrorism except as an ally of the US in a dirty war against Iran.
As everybody knows, the Grauniad's plan worked perfectly, and after the election President Kerry quickly ended the war.

The most interesting part of the Times piece, actually, is LeCarre's fulminations on Georgia:
Again, le CarrĂ© is energised and angry: “What’s happened to diplomacy?” he asks, presumably rhetorically, of the West’s “completely archaic” response to the mini-crisis in Georgia recently. “If you bite the Russian bear on the arse in its own back-yard, then you know what will happen: it will react
brutally.” . . .

A day or so after the interview, when I ring le Carré to check one or two facts, he goes still further. Echoing Vladimir Putin, this former MI6 spy says that the furore over Georgia, the whipping-up of a confrontation with Russia, was quite possibly a deliberate act by the US, done out of fear that the war in Iraq had quietened down a little too much. The Republican candidate John McCain needed a new war in which he could be seen to act. In effect, he says, the Americans substituted one war for the other.
Uh, yeah. How about a little music while we all ponder that. Ponder!

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