The Fourth Eye

Technophilic Hubris and Espionage Styles during the Cold War

Macrakis, K. (2010). “Technophilic Hubris and Espionage Styles during the Cold War.” Isis 101(2): 378-385.

The East bloc won the spy wars but lost the Cold War

  • “Intelligence needs stimulated and accelerated the development of Cold War technology like spy satellites, high altitude-planes, and nuclear powered submarines.”
  • “Intelligence agencies planted spies in the skies, spies in the ether, spies underground, spies in the water and spies in the mind. In fact, the United States had, and has, the whole globe covered with planes, satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs_ radios, electronics, tunnels and submarines. It also steadily used codes, and even pharmaceuticals, in the services of espionage.
  • VENONA revealed atomic espionage more widespread than ever imagined, and the US found it harder to penetrate the closed Soviet society, so relied on technological enthusiasm or technophilia, Eisenhower’s faith in science and technology helped launch Americas unique technology based espionage during the 1950s,
  • “But blind optimism in the power of technology forgets that technology does not run or build itself… numerous Cold War examples of the way in which humans betrayed technical systems. Christopher Boyce sold the KGB information about TRW-CIA reconnaissance system information about the classified satellite system code-named RHYOLITE. Kampiles a disgruntled CIA employee passed on information about the CORONA satellite system.
  • By the end of the Cold War, UKUSA SIGINT spanned the globe and software was developed that could intercept all mail, fax, telephone, and Internet communications.
  • “At the end of the Cold War, the CIA discovered that all of its East German and Cuban agents were, in fact, double agents working at the best of East German or Cuban foreign intelligence.
  • “The East bloc won the spy wars but lost the Cold War.”
  • “All spy agencies were seduced by the potential of secrets to solve problems and became caught up in a spy game obsessed with bureaucratic secrecy…As a result, intelligence bureaucracies have taken on a life of their own and lost sight of the espionage goals”
  • “Whether America’s Technophilic hubris leads to our undoing a a democracy, or whether democratic institutions keep their eye on freedom, will be documented by future historians.”

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