A notable example of the breakaway civilization in film is the 1979 film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Moonraker. Moonraker the film differs significantly from the Fleming’s novel, but the differences and parallels are important to highlight: the novel focuses on a kind of Operation Paperclip scenario, wherein Sir Hugo Drax is secretly building a V-2 rocket in tandem with the Nazis to destroy England and rebuild the Reich. For many, the film adaptation a few decades later represented an exceedingly outlandish interpolation on a pulp spy novel that failed to achieve much more than mimicking the box office success of science-fiction blockbusters it attempted to copy, cinematic innovations like 2001 and Star Wars.
We’ve analyzed 007 in the past, as well as Howard Hughes in light of Scorcese’s The Aviator, but could there be a connection between the two? What if Ian Fleming was encoding an explosive, real-world conspiracy involving Howard Hughes, JFK, Aristotle Onassis and a legendary kidnapping? Not only is there evidence to suggest this, but the film version of his 1954 novel Diamonds Are Forever subtly suggests much more. We know Fleming was a high-level Royal Navy psychological warfare specialist and involved in numerous covert operations, and as I’ve argued many times, Fleming’s novels and the film versions, in their own respective ways, elucidate these clandestine activities, touching on everything from black-market smuggling networks to actual espionage and assassinations.
In August 2008 the Japanese security service revealed details of a remarkable spy saga with all the makings of a Le Carre novel, if a bit further east. A deep-cover Russian intelligence officer of unspecified “Asian origin” masqueraded as a Japanese man and ran an espionage network in Tokyo over the span of three decades. Japan’s government kept the case under wraps for a number of years, so why did it choose to shed light on this extraordinary intelligence operation only recently?
1960s espionage fiction was definitive for spy culture. Developing its own unique aesthetic, from Bond to The Saint to Harry Palmer, the vivid, flamboyant style of both the spies and their cinema incarnations created an iconic pop-phenomenon that survives to this day (as 007 is still going strong). Everyone knows 007, but few are aware of the more philosophical, science-fiction based British cult show, The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan.
Recently I was fortunate to go on Red Ice Radio with Henrik Palmgren. Henrik and I discussed Soviet intelligence operations, specifically the history of illegals, deep politics and geostrategy, and the course of Russian and Western culture.
Tim Kelly invited me back to discuss the Cold War in a more in-depth fashion. We delve into bankster funding of both sides of conflicts throughout the twentieth century, the machinations of industrialists like Henry Ford, strategies of tension and think-tank social engineering from Rand Corp., spies and espionage and their relationship to secret societies and the occult – all part of the traffic in secrets. Enjoy the discussion.
On the drizzly autumn Friday of November 11th, 1983, US President Ronald Reagan would have no time for his customary Oval Office nap. Besides delivering a speech that morning to the American Legion in honor of Veterans Day, Reagan then filled the rest of his schedule taking part in a NATO nuclear war exercise under the designation Able Archer. The president found the subject matter fascinating but frightening; despite his firebrand speeches, he also hoped the Soviets understood they had nothing to fear from America. His hope was in vain.
In Moscow, General Secretary Yuri Andropov saw Reagan’s role in Able Archer, underscored by America’s recent invasion of Grenada and a worldwide security alert of US forces, as the cover for a nuclear first strike. Escorted early after a freezing sunrise along with chief of the General Staff Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov to the Politburo’s subterranean command bunker by his elite KGB troops, with crushing sadness and dread Andropov transmitted his directive, a desperate attempt to minimize the looming devastation his country faced.
In the twilight arena of international espionage, one name more than any other evokes an image of patient, masterful treachery, the insidious presence of the enemy in one’s own inner sanctum. No matter the country they serve, generations of intelligence and counterintelligence trainees have been expected to know this name well: Philby. For half a century now, Harold Adrian Russell “Kim” Philby (1912-1988) remains both in espionage history and popular literature the quintessential mole, the deep-penetration agent who buried his way to the top of British intelligence to provide Soviet Russia with the Crown’s most guarded secrets. The shock of Philby’s treason reverberated throughout the British establishment, while in retrospective the affair tells us more about the social, cultural, and spiritual depravity of an entire ruling elite than just the sordid exploits of a spy.
The newest film in the 007 series will be titled SPECTRE, a fitting reference to the real cabals and cartels that rule the world. Indeed, SPECTRE is presented early on in From Russia with Love with this very feature – they are international, as opposed to SMERSH being Russian, and play nation states off against one another. Transitioning from the Soviet-affiliated SMERSH in the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, SMERSH transforms into SPECTRE, a formidable “terrorist” organization from the ambiguous East.
It is also telling that back in the 50s and 60s, Ian Fleming was already predicting the transition from the communist threat to the international terrorist threat – something that gave me the indication that Fleming novels are worth a deeper look. Even current media hysteria seems the product of a shrewd psychological operation: Sony claims to have been hacked by North Korea, with the SPECTRE script leaked, as well as Pyongyang supposedly threatening 9/11 style attacks on theaters that play Franco and Rogen’s The Interview. Such headlines might as well be ripped from the pages of Fleming’s books, since they’re truer to life than we might think.
The FBI’s recent arrest of several alleged deep-cover Russian intelligence officers, also known as “illegals”, has provoked astonishment in the media. As if U.S. intelligence agencies would ever dream of carrying out covert work in Russia! Since the memory span of reporters and pundits rarely extends beyond a few weeks, perhaps this is understandable. But it should come as no surprise that spying remains an important tool of statecraft. As exemplified by the illegals, the Russians are top players in the game of human intelligence.