Spying, What is it Good For?

Mostly absolutely nothing.  In light of recent revelations that we have spied on the leaders of friendly foreign States, I’d like to put my two cents in:

We should never spy on anyone except when vital, national security interests of the United States or our allies are at stake.  Given this, we should never spy on any friendly nation as they never threaten our vital interests.  And we should be wary of spying on any nation unless we really have to.  We have, right now, a vital interest in spying in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, China and a few other nations – either the nations, themselves, threaten us or what is going on in them threatens to become a serious problem for the United States.  We need to know what is going on behind the scenes.  But, Germany?  What could Germany possibly be hiding from us that is a threat to our existence?   Germany is a United States ally.  If they wish to keep something secret from us, then simple decency should compel us to respect that.  Do you pry in to your friend’s affairs uninvited?  No, you don’t – because that is indecent.  Well, morality applies to States as well as individuals.

Aside from the morality of it all, spying doesn’t really work very often.  To be sure, there have been a few intelligence coups which have been put to good use – the British breaking of the German naval codes in WWII is the prime example of this.  On the other hand, there wasn’t too much use in our breaking the Japanese codes pre-WWII as we still got caught with our pants down at Pearl Harbor (to be sure, that capability was put to good use at Midway in 1942 – but, think about it, the boneheads in charge only started properly using it after we had been wiped out in the most well-advertised “surprise” attack in human history).  Knowing the enemy’s plan ahead of time can be useful – but far more useful is for you to just be prepared for all contingencies.  If you’ve reviewed the possible threats and deployed your forces properly, then it doesn’t fundamentally matter what the enemy is going to do.  One need but consider McClellan and Grant in the Civil War.  McClellan at one point pretty much had Lee’s battle plan and still couldn’t beat him…because Lee was deployed for all contingencies.  Grant didn’t have Lee’s plan and, indeed, was put in a bad position by one of Lee’s adroit battlefield gambits…but he still beat Lee because Grant was ready for all contingencies.

To me, there is something nauseating in this whole spying business.  Cloak and dagger and dirty deals to get the goods.  I’d rather we had very little to do with it – and best of all, nothing to do with it.  If we are prepared for all contingencies and have let potential enemies know in advance that we’ll destroy them as soon as they look crossways at us, that would be better than all the spies in the world…especially all the peeping-Tom sorts of spying we do with electronic surveillance. I don’t necessarily want to know what nastiness the Mullahs of Iran are planning – I just want us to have the capability of putting Iran’s leaders six feet under at need and their clear understanding that this is precisely what we’ll do, if they challenge us, anywhere.

Leave off spying.  Build the right military force and be prepared to use it against all comers in all possible circumstances – that is the path to security and peace; not routing through someone’s private telephone conversations or picking through their trash for dirt.

12 thoughts on “Spying, What is it Good For?

  1. Retired Spook October 29, 2013 / 8:45 am

    Dick Cheney, in an ABC interview, nailed one of the major repercussions of Obama’s brand of spying:

    Cheney faulted the Obama White House’s handling of Middle East politics, saying the U.S. presence in the region had been “significantly diminished” in recent years. “I think our friends no longer count on us, no longer trust us and our adversaries don’t fear us,” he said.

    • M. Noonan October 29, 2013 / 2:14 pm

      And that’s another thing about spying – in the hands of incompetents, it can get really, really bad. Its like the children are in charge…and now everyone is offended. And isn’t spying sorta supposed to be on the down low, as the hipsters might say?

  2. Amazona October 29, 2013 / 3:09 pm

    We’ve had some issues regarding what we know and now we know it, and as usual things catch up with us.

    The Left looked the other way when the NYT published information on how we track terrorists by their financial transactions. THAT was a serious blow to our ability to learn what our enemies are doing and where they are. But the NYT got a pass, because Bush was president, and anything that would put a thumb in his eye was deemed dandy by the Complicit Agenda Media. So no one was prosecuted for what should have been charges of treason.

    The Left has looked the other way every time one of their own has revealed classified or secret information because they always figured it would hurt the Right. They couldn’t have cared less if it hurt the COUNTRY—it was always, all the time, about hurting the political opposition, in the unending quest for power that marks the Left.

    Now we have someone doing exactly what got passed over when the Left did it, and it is hurting their own poster child for radical Leftism. And now there is whining and weeping.

    Did Snowden commit treason? Under the old rules, I think the answer would have been “yes”. Under the new rules established when treasonous activity gave the Right a black eye, not at all. Now the Left wants to go back to the old rules, as if they had never supported and defended and excused treason in the past, in a truly Orwellian effort to juggle different definitions for different people doing the same things.

    (To the Left, “treason” was defined as having people in an office discuss what had been common knowledge on the DC cocktail circuit for years, that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA, only because the office in question was that of the Republican Vice President. Her husband, who had bragged for years “My wife works for the CIA, you know…” had not committed treason. Valerie herself, who stupidly made campaign contributions under her own name and listed in those public records that she worked for what was supposed to be a covert CIA front, did not commit treason when she blew the operation. No one who talked about where she worked was accused of treason, unless it was a Republican.)

    That’s one thing about this mess.

    Another is the truly astounding lack of even basic competence anywhere in this administration. Once you get past their skill at manipulating the emotions of the mindless, you find yourself in a quagmire of utter incompetence and downright stupidity, augmented by clumsy lying and what seems like a conviction that if Barry just looks off into the distance long enough, and manages to look thoughtful enough, it will all just fade away.

    And, of course, there is the amusing fact that this egomaniac, who believed that his very presence in the White House would bring adulation from around the world, is now despised and distrusted in most of that world. In spite of his squeaky little spokesgirl claiming that people still trust him, no, it simply ain’t so. “The world” is catching onto what has been obvious to many of us from the get-go—-that this guy is a fraud, an empty suit, a liar, a phony, and an idiot.

    • neocon01 October 29, 2013 / 6:43 pm

      it is not “children” who are in charge, it is hard core radical leftists who grew up on revolution, murder, mayhem, marx, alinsky, cloward-piven, wright and ayers. They are a bunch of dangerous radical ideologues hell bent on destroying capitalism and US world domination.
      The spying is to feed the ever growing ever expanding police state with bigger better swat teams, ATV’s, tanks, helicopters and swarms of storm trooper ninja dressed SS style police to suppress the US citizen with fear and intimidation….just ask George Zimmerman.

      • neocon01 October 29, 2013 / 6:46 pm

        .just ask George Zimmerman.

        OH …..and Randy Weaver and the 85 women and children of the branch davidions, and elian gonzales

      • M. Noonan October 30, 2013 / 1:25 am


        Never believe that malevolence explains what is better explained by sheer stupidity. The French troops reeled back from the Nazis in 1940 shouting “we’ve been betrayed!”, when actually they had just been monumentally incompetently led.

      • Amazona October 30, 2013 / 12:28 pm

        “Never believe that malevolence explains what is better explained by sheer stupidity. “ …a comment proved by the fact that the president of the United States is Barack Obama. Never in the history of this nation has sheer stupidity been so obvious.

      • Retired Spook October 30, 2013 / 12:45 pm

        …a comment proved by the fact that the president of the United States is Barack Obama. Never in the history of this nation has sheer stupidity been so obvious.

        I can’t remember the last time I disagreed with you, Amazona, but, while there may be some stupid people in this administration, malevolence is an integral component of their overall strategy. Malevolence permeates everything they say and do.

      • M. Noonan October 30, 2013 / 12:58 pm


        Let’s compromise and say that their stupidity leads them in to malevolence.

      • neocon01 October 30, 2013 / 5:53 pm

        the old chicken or the egg dilemma…

      • Amazona October 30, 2013 / 6:55 pm

        Spook, I agree with you about malevolence at the higher levels of Leftism, but it is the stupidity of the masses that lets them win elections. I see no malevolence in the average driver of a Honda with an Obama sticker—just bone-deep stupidity.

      • Retired Spook October 30, 2013 / 11:23 pm

        but it is the stupidity of the masses that lets them win elections

        No argument there. It is sort of sad, in an ironic way, that so many of the young Leftists who have visited this blog over the years would never willingly risk their lives for what they’ve been told to believe, but many of them will end up being canon fodder, nonetheless.

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