\’N\’ this is bollocks \’n\’ all

You knew who your friends were during the Cold War – and you didn’t snoop on them

Everyone has always spied on everyone. On the grounds that you wanted to check whether they actually were friends or not.

Which is why everyone has always spied double hard on the French: because we know very well that they\’re not anyone\’s friends.

19 thoughts on “\’N\’ this is bollocks \’n\’ all”

  1. Of course we spied on everyone. After WW2 the UK banned all mention of having broken the Enigma code. Then we manufactured copies of the machine and sold it to our allies around the world – Look, this great German machine, unbreakable codes!
    Then we read their mail for 30 years.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    Yeah, the French didn’t snoop on people. They just sent in Special Forces to put bombs on the hulls of Greenpeace boats while in harbour.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_espionage#France_and_the_United_States

    Although to be fair, the US does not spy on its friends. It just gives small-ish sums of cash to Western politicians if they will come in for a chat with a nice man from the Embassy from time to time. To let them know what is going on. Nothing to do with spying at all.

  3. I thought that the UK and US didn’t spy on each other but no one else had the same agreement

  4. @JimW

    Then we manufactured copies of the machine and sold it to our allies around the world – Look, this great German machine, unbreakable codes!
    Then we read their mail for 30 years.

    Is that true? Brilliant if it is.

  5. Maybe they do spy on each other but they are not blatant about it.
    Thjat is what makes the friends part.

  6. David, the US and UK, and also Oz and NZ and CA do not spy on each other because they don’t need to. They all give the information to the US willingly.

  7. Doug, It is true we gave Enigma to our friends. That is why the secret we broke it was so closely until the 1970s.

  8. I have to say that, reading Jim’s revelation and DC’s confirmation, I first laughed then felt very proud of MI6.

    I wonder if they thought to arrange to have Enigma stolen by some of our enemies?

  9. As Harold Macmillan once said “In the end the French will always betray you”.

    So by all means have GCHQ and the NSA spy on the buggers.

  10. “Which is why everyone has always spied double hard on the French: because we know very well that they’re not anyone’s friends.”

    Come, come, this really is Little Englander stuff of the sort common in the New Statesman fifty years ago.

    But I would hope this blog would normally take a more sophisticated view than take on board the sort of two hundred year old prejudices so entertainingly described and analysed by Linda Colley in her classic “Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837” (which, incidentally, I recommend to anyone who’s interested in British cultural identity).

  11. As well as spying on Nato allies they must be picking up a lot of confidential commercial information, of some considerable value.

  12. It’s not “Little Englander” to say, “the French are untrustworthy fuckers” if the French are, in point of fact, untrustworthy fuckers. And I submit that they are. It’s well-known (and I do not mean this in the sense of ‘widespread but unfounded prejudice’) that one of the chief tasks of the DGSE was commercial espionage. I’m sure all nations indulge in that to some extent, but in the case of France it was a key mission priority. It didn’t help that it was riddled with Soviet moles.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Churm Rincewind

    Come, come, this really is Little Englander stuff of the sort common in the New Statesman fifty years ago.

    The French used to deploy their nuclear-capable airplanes in three places. The first lot were stationed in what I still like to think of as West Germany – now Eastern France. So they could drop bombs on the Soviet Union. These have now stood down I believe. They have another lot based in the South of France. In case any Arab country gets any ideas. They are still there. And the third lot are in Brittany. A short flight from London. They too are still there.

    We may spy on the treacherous f**kers but we do not target nuclear weapons at them. The French manage to be sophisticated and yet realistic about their neighbours. Well, not so much realistic and insanely prejudiced. Why do you think sophisication only comes in the form of treason and self loathing?

  14. “We may spy on the treacherous f**kers but we do not target nuclear weapons at them.”

    So Paris isn’t at the top of the Royal Navy’s target list, just above the Treasury and RAF Air Command?

    Nelson would be turning in his grave!

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    tom

    So Paris isn’t at the top of the Royal Navy’s target list, just above the Treasury and RAF Air Command?

    I doubt it. The Royal Navy hasn’t got its priorities right for at least a generation. Besides, Paris is what God invented the neutron bomb for. And we don’t have any. I expect the Americans would do it for us.

    Interesting to see that the Swiss have their own programme for spying on the rest of us.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onyx_(interception_system)

    I don’t see the big deal. If you broadcast then you have to assume the rest of the world could listen if they could be ar$ed. In the old days when mobile phones were young and new and analogue, anyone could listen. In fact some people got in lots of trouble for doing so. But it is like having sex with the drapes drawn. You have to expect someone is going to see. You can’t complain when they do. All the move to digital did was make it harder for anyone but governments to listen to you.

    The real problem here seems to be data mining. I find it funny when American companies can predict if a woman is pregnant before her husband knows. But our phone calls are not the real loss of privacy – the centralisation of our medical records are. I have been banging on about this for years without anyone caring. I expect I will continue to do so for another couple more. But what is worse, that the GCHQ can read this and then throw it away, or the government knows every little illness you and the family have had since they were toddlers?

  16. Surreptitious Evil

    So Paris isn’t at the top of the Royal Navy’s target list, just above the Treasury and RAF Air Command?

    Back when I played with these things, Paris was always the favourite “target of opportunity” on the test rigs. Whether it was on the live tape or not, I have no idea (and wouldn’t be able to say if I did.)

    Which was a bit of a problem when the Chef de la Force de Frappe (my French may be merde) came for a visit. We compromised on EuroDisney for that demonstration.

  17. If you’re worried about intelligence services compromising good governance, spying on the French would be the first thing to do. It’s still not clear just how much the government even knows about what DGSE does.

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