Espionage during the cold war

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Ever since the Soviet Union emerged from the Russian revolution way back in the year 1917, it is important to note that espionage had been one of the critical ways that defined the interactions between the United States of America as well as the USSR (Whitaker, 1994; Trahair, 2004). Relevant to the above, it is of crucial significance to note that the issue of espionage was mostly used in the cold war by a number of countries, employing people to spy on the other countries, thereby giving them out the most credible information that they could rely in their day to day operations, preparations, attacks as well as other cautionary measures to take in certain situations. For instance, way back in the nineteenth century, the Bolsheviks majorly relied on the aspect of espionage with its associated beneficial outcomes at that time in order to inherit the well-developed traditions from the Czarist Russia, the espionage results that were mostly relied upon during internal as well as external attacks. This kind of revolution happened in the year 1917 (Whitaker, 1994; Gaddis, 1989; Aldrich, 2001).

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However, soon after the Bolshevik revolution that took place in the year 1917, operatives arrived in the United States of America where they engaged in active search of information after the revolution. This was done in a socially sophisticated but wise manner, in which the operatives majorly focused on the infiltration of émigré groups with the main aim of protecting the fledging Soviet state from the imminent and highly possible chances of emergence of counterrevolution (Trahair, 2004; Aldrich, 2001). This was one of the strategic moves and approaches employed in the espionage between countries during the cold war, a virtue that was both silent but productive at the end. In addition to the above, the operatives also sought for the economic as well as industrial data from the United States of America. In order to achieve the above, the operatives managed to lay a strong but strategic foundation that involved a groundwork incorporation of the services of able but committed agents who were tasked with the responsibility of developing sources that focused on the federal government (Gaddis, 1992).

However, after it came to the realization of the United States of America that the USSR had been employing such means of espionage in order to get their target information in the year 1934, it dawned on the Soviet Union to change tactics (Hennessy, 2003). In response to the above, it is of crucial significance to underscore the fact that after the realization, the Soviet Union decided to employ the other tactic which involved the use of diplomatic cover. The diplomatic cover was used by the Soviet Union in order to ensure the collection of intelligence as well as information that would otherwise be used in fighting the United States of America and their allies (Shahan, 2016). In addition to the facilitation of gathering of the necessary intelligence to fuel the fight as championed by the strategic diplomatic cover employed by the soviets, they also used agents who would spy on the Americans in other various ways. For instance, they decided to make contacts with America, a move that aimed at making their opponents not to think of anything bad concerning them (Turner, 2005). This was an act of wisdom that ensured effective collection of the necessary intelligence by the Soviets. This also involved luring even more of the citizens of the United States of America into their units, paying the some money for their services, as long as they delivered to the promises as well as ensured effective execution of the tasks in which each one of them was assigned.

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Thus, in respect to the above, it is of crucial significance to note that in the beginning of the year 1935, quite a number of the citizens from the United States of America had been recruited into the Soviet Union, acting as agents of the Soviet against the plans, intelligence as well as operational tactics employed by the United States of America (Hennessy, 2003; Saunders, 2013; Turner, 2005). In this respect, the services from such operatives were rendered in silence, in such a manner that they would not be discovered by the American agencies. This act of betrayal drew many of the youths from the United States who were eager to earn some payments in exchange of their services to the Soviet Union. The agents were in several groups who were well placed socially, and commanded remarkable levels of intelligence. For instance, some of the citizens who were employed as agents of the Soviet Union in order to gather intelligence information among other information from the United States of America included people like Harold Ware, Morris Cohen as well as Whittaker Chambers (Miller, 1989; Shahan, 2016).

In addition, other well renowned people who joined the Soviet Union as agents in order to gather more intelligence information, working as diplomats in disguise, were the likes of Alger Hiss among others. The above named personnel began to work for the Soviet Union as agents or spies in the late 1930’s. Just as was previously mentioned, the people from the United States of America who worked for the Soviet Union as agents were well placed group of individuals socially and politically. For instance, most of them, involving Harold Ware, Alger Hiss as well as Morris Cohen among others had very strong connections to the American Communist Party (Turner, 2005; Miller, 1989; Shahan, 2016). It was from this party that they used to debate Marxism. However, such debates on Marxism graduated into passing of information advocating for the international communist movement as explained by Gaddis, (1989) and Aldrich, (2001). However, despite having strong connections, other agents also secretly joined the Soviet Union in order to act as espionages or spies for the Soviets (Hennessy, 2003; Saunders, 2013).

It is of crucial significance to underscore the fact that in the espionage between countries during the cold war, a number of spy rings were used. Five major groups of spy rings were used by the Soviet Union in order to gather information and intelligence from the Unite States of America. These spy rings included the Cambridge Five, Atomic spies as well as the Ware Group (West, 2013; Aldrich, 1998; Gaddis, 2005). In addition, the other two remaining spy groups comprised of the Portland Spy ring as well as the Silvermaster spy ring. The Cambridge Five spy ring comprised of five members who were taken from the Cambridge University. These five members were recruited in the year 1930s, but not as agents until the day they graduated from the University (Gaddis, 2005). The five members of the Cambridge Five comprised of Kim Philby, Guy Burgess as well as Anthony Blunt. The other two who were part of the Cambridge five spy groups consisted of Donald Maclean as well as John Cairncross.

This group was tasked with the responsibility of conveying information to the Soviet Union until the year 1950s, and it is in records that none of the members of the Cambridge Five spy group was ever prosecuted for the services rendered in form of spying against the United States (West, 2013; Aldrich, 1998; Gaddis, 2005). It is believed that the five members of the Cambridge Five spy group were ideologically persuaded by the fact that Marxism-Leninism of the Soviet Communism was ideally the most appropriate as well as available form of political system. In addition, the five were also persuaded that the Marxism-Leninism was ideally the most appropriate defence that would effectively counteract the rise of Fascism (West, 2013). As such, the Cambridge Five spy group succeeded in conveying a huge amount of intelligence information from the United States to the Soviet Union to an extent that some level of suspicion started to arise that some information might have been false. However, this did not deter them from fulfilling their duties of espionage against the United States of America.

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Besides the Cambridge Five spy group, the other well renowned spy group that gathered information from the United States to the Soviet Union were the Portland Spy Ring. These operated in England, working for the Soviet Union in gathering intelligence information. One of the major things that made this spy group stand alone as unique was the fact that it never relied on any embassy for provision of cover in executing its mandates. The spy ring operated between 1950s and 1960s until they were finally arrested by the British Security Services (Aldrich, 1998; Gaddis, 2005).

Both Ware Group Spy ring and Silvermaster Spy rings operated in the United States of America.  Silvermaster Spy ring was led by a very influential man in the Treasury department within the United States of America by the name Harry Dexter White. The main role of Harry Dexter was to support the Soviet Union in strategically placing the agents or spies in the United States of America in order to spy for the Soviet (Kackman, 2005). Moreover, the other spy ring entitled the Atom Spy ring collected information that would later enable the Soviet Union to make atomic bombs. This followed the successful penetration of the Atomic Spy ring into the Manhattan project, a mission led by Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Klaus Fuchs among others.

However, it is important to note that not only the Soviets had spies during the Cold War, but also the United States of America. For instance, United States employed Aleksandr Dmitrievich Ogorodnik to be their spy in the Soviet (Dumbrell, 2006; Andrew, 1996; Gaddis, 2006). Aleksandr was a Soviet diplomat. In his service to the United States, he succeeded in photographing some very confidential diplomatic cables used by the Soviet and sent them to the United States of America. Besides Aleksandr, the United States also employed the services of Miles Copeland Jr., who was a CIA agent. Miles Copeland also succeeded in overthrowing two governments; Syrian government as well as Iranian governments, both in the years 1949 and 1953, respectively (Dumbrell, 2006; Gaddis, 2006).

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In conclusion, the espionage between countries during the cold war describes the nature or the different ways in which the Western allies as well as the Eastern Bloc gathered intelligence information for their own use in the Cold War ( Dumbrell, 2006; Andrew, 1996; Gaddis, 2006). The western allies in this respect refer majorly to the United States of America and United Kingdom at that time, whereas the Eastern Bloc comprised of the Soviet Union as well as the aligned countries forming the Warsaw Pact. It is of crucial significance to note that each side of the allies were trying to fight the other opposing side, thus it was quite imperative and very prudent that either side could get reliable and most accurate information concerning the other bloc in order to ease the process of preparations for the war (Dumbrell, 2006; Andrew, 1996; Gaddis, 2006).

As such, information was necessary, and thus, each bloc embarked on the mission of seeking for the information thorugh employing an espionage strategy. The espionages were to assume active roles in gathering intelligence information concerning either side that they were assigned, or the side that they wanted fought. Such information involved the intentions of the either party, the military information and intelligence, as well as technology that was in possession of the opposing side (Andrew, 1996; Gaddis, 2006). These were very crucial in the preparations for the fight between these two blocs during the cold War. In this regards, it is important to highlight that in order for the two opposing sides to gather the necessary information, either of them relied on a number of both military as well as civilian agencies. This could give them the requisite information to effectively execute their plans as well as ensure the realization of complete defeat on the opposing side.

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  1. Aldrich, R. J. (1998). British intelligence and the Anglo-American ‘special relationship’ during the Cold War. Review of International Studies, 24(3), 331-351.
  2. Aldrich, R. J. (2001). The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and the Cold War Secret  Intelligence (Vol. 369). London.
  3. Aldrich, R. J. (2011). GCHQ: The uncensored story of Britain’s most secret intelligence agency. Canadian Military Journal, 11(3), 71-72.
  4. Andrew, C. (1996). For the President’s eyes only: Secret intelligence and the American presidency from Washington to Bush. Harper Collins.
  5. Dumbrell, J. (2006). A special relationship: Anglo-American relations from the Cold War to Iraq. Palgrave Macmillan.
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  7. Gaddis, J. L. (1992). The United States and the end of the Cold War. Nova Iorque, Oxford University Press.
  8. Gaddis, J. L. (2005). Strategies of containment: a critical appraisal of American national security policy during the Cold War. Oxford University Press.
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  10. Hennessy, P. (2003). The secret state: Whitehall and the Cold War. Penguin Global.
  11. Kackman, M. (2005). Citizen spy: Television, espionage, and Cold War culture. U of Minnesota Press.
  12. Miller, N. (1989). Spying for America: The Hidden History of US Intelligence. Paragon House Publishers.
  13. Saunders, F. S. (2013). The cultural cold war: The CIA and the world of arts and letters. New Press, The.
  14. Shahan, J. (2016). David Burke, The Spy Who Came in From the Co-op: Melita Norwood and the Ending of Cold War Espionage.
  15. Sontag, S., Drew, C., & Drew, A. L. (2000). Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of Cold War Submarine Espionage. Random House.
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  17. Turner, M. A. (2005). Why secret intelligence fails. Potomac Books, Inc..
  18. West, N. (2013). A Better Look at Philby: Edward Harrison. The Young Kim Philby: Soviet Spy and British Intelligence Officer University of Exeter Press, Exeter, UK, 2012, 232 p.,        $85.00.
  19. Whitaker, R. (1994). Cold War Canada: The making of a national insecurity state, 1945-1957.   University of Toronto Press.
  20. Whitfield, S. J. (1996). The culture of the Cold War. JHU Press.
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