Friday, October 25, 2013

Spy Vs. Spy

Much of the current outrage in Europe over allegations the United States spied on its allies, most notoriously by listening to Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel's mobile phonecalls, is genuine. Yet, it is a fair assumption that most countries consider espionage on both friends and foes acceptable under at least some circumstances. Tommy Douglas, who served as Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961 (and who, incidentally, was Kiefer Sutherland's grandfather), strongly condemned espionage as a dire threat to democracy:
Setting people to spy on one another is not the way to protect freedom.
Reasonable people may differ on whether or not this admonition retains relevance today. However, it is clear that spying on allies carries substantial costs that should be weighed against any benefits.