Okay, so let’s assume that Russia has tried to influence our elections in the past, and the Chinese surely are planning involvement in our next. Let’s wake up folks; every embassy in the world has people who are both diplomats and spies. As for influencing, or trying to influence, elections and leadership in different nations, this is an age old tactic. Too often films and TV shows have made spying and manipulation seem glamorous. Often it is a very dirty business.
We ourselves have been involved in this at least since World War Two, though there were also many spies at work during The Civil War. The most famous was beautiful Belle Boyd who worked for the South. She was so good at her trade that after the war she married one of her captors, a Union officer.
Also involved in the spy business are assassinations. During the Kennedy years the CIA was involved in the assassination of three leaders, in one case the top man in South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem. Why him? Because he was considering making peace with North Vietnam.
This peace making plan unset the powers that be in DC. According to the well researched book. The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour M. Hersh, there were many secret plans involving South Vietnam. Hersh, an investigative reporter, was a major Kennedy supporter and this book was originally planned to reflect that.
However, Hersh gained access to private minutes of cabinet meetings in 1963. In one of those meetings the need for a quick military action was advocated by Attorney General Robert Kennedy to guarantee the re-election of his brother John F. Kennedy in 1964. Under President Eisenhower there were already 700 military advisors in South Vietnam aiding in the fight against Communism. To the Kennedy administration this seemed like the ideal place to send troops. A peace treaty between North and South Vietnam would end those plans.
Interesting enough British intelligence had a different take on the Kennedy assassination. An author friend of this writer, John Gardner, was in MI6 during the time of the assassination in Dallas, Texas. At the same time the widow of Ngo Dinh Diem and several supporters of the old regime were in Houston, Texas on undisclosed business. Coincidence? MI6 at the time did not think so.
We tried also more than once to put away Fidel Castro. Once with an exploding cigar. Under the Obama administration we were responsible for removing leaders in two countries, and wound up with something worse. Of course what the Russians may have tried in our past elections is serious, but not new.
Thinking back as a history guy my favorite spy was Benjamin Franklin in France during the American Revolution. Franklin was not only to get French support against the British but to gather intelligence. The French and British both had intelligence services and kept close watch on each other. Franklin may not have looked like a James Bond, but the ladies there loved him. Franklin’s wit and charm won over French royalty already desirous of causing harm to the British.
The spy game at least goes back to Moses, who sent ten men to spy out the territory they would someday take over as the Promised Land. Or maybe further back, when we learn in Genesis that Satan took the guise of a serpent to speak to Eve. False information was planted in her mind, which was spread to Adam.