The Russian Spy in My Econ Class | WIRED | Opinion

Johns Hopkins’ long history with student-spies suggests this most recent incident will not lead to much change—but maybe that’s OK.

Source: The Russian Spy in My Econ Class | WIRED

“Maybe that’s okay,” the article concludes. If this isn’t a sign of a messed up, guilt-ridden America in decline, I don’t what is.

The passing of Gorbachev made a lot of us think about how things have changed since the 1970s and 80s.

With their hallmark irony, The Beatles joked about those pretty Ukraine and Moscow ‘girls’ in the song “Back in the U.S.S.R.” And in Canada, we had a groundbreaking 1972 Canada – USSR hockey series. Hockey is Canada’s game and we went into the tournament thinking we’d win with ease. And what a surprise, those Russians played like fiends. They were organized, efficient, and highly skilled. Watching the game we looked like a loose bunch of egotists (the Canadian NHL stars) toiling and getting extremely frustrated against this impenetrable machine that executed plays and goals like clockwork.

The series went to eight games, and many Canadians were shocked. If it were not for a fantastic final goal by Paul Henderson, Canada could have lost the series. But it took everything we had to beat the Russians. For all Canadians, this series was really about our happy freedom versus the cold tyranny of communism.

Henderson scores the winner for freedom and the machine-like Soviets suddenly look like sad robots

Let that example from the world of sports caution us in how we approach real life.

Don’t underestimate Russians as second-rate stooges who go to space in clunky gear, have no style, and are always behind the free world (in space they actually were ahead of us for a while). Overconfidence killed the cat. And no amount of crying will get it back.

That’s how I see it. We are up against a threat like no other. In many ways, the situation is far worse now than it was during the so-called Cold War. Putin has not only rekindled the dreadful fear and authoritarianism of the old communist Soviet era. He’s killing people in Ukraine with gay abandon and occupying a massive nuclear power plant.

This is no hockey game. This is Europe, the world and we are in deep trouble.

So for some WIRED writer to imply that being concerned about spies in the free world might be a symptom of a warped desire to make up conspiracy theories, it appears this person needs to better understand the difference between living in freedom and living in fear.

Even Gorbachev in this BBC interview is obviously afraid of Putin. He needed to be if he wanted to stay alive. I don’t blame him for being wishy-washy on Putin. But he undoubtedly is, pretending that things were not as bad as they were or putting his words in ‘diplomatic’ language that wouldn’t come back to haunt him with an arrest, sham trial, prison sentence, perhaps poisoning, or point blank hit.

Gorbachev did survive to live to a ripe old age. He was smart. But sadly, being smart also means toeing the line, letting things slide, and not sticking your neck out — unlike Alexei Navalny, Marina Ovsyannikova and Pussy Riot, for instance.

Marina Vladimirovna Ovsyannikova is now under house arrest but Putin’s less connected critics are not treated so lightly

Another aspect of the above-linked article I don’t like is how it looks at students and not criminal-spy professors. Can you imagine how much more damage a professor can do than a student? A professor can hang around the mail room and intercept and alter documents to their liking. Or they can get a disturbed accomplice in the computer center to ‘check the trash’ while they go through your emails. Also, they can shape policy through subtle threats because any academic worth their salt, even the clean ones, knows full well who the dirty, sneaky ones are. Shaping policy means changing things to make it easier for more spies and yes-men and women to fill the gaps in the hiring process. So over time, the university becomes an organ of Putin’s Russia, not a free Canadian institution.

Of course, there are additional crime groups from other hostile countries involved in this process, one that extends beyond academia and into politics. China is probably the biggest threat. But at the moment China is mostly playing war games. Russia has instigated an actual bloodthirsty war, killing thousands of innocents. The disaster in Ukraine didn’t have to happen, meanwhile, Russia has been patrolling the arctic waters for many years now, their northern forays being facilitated by the melt from global warming.

Russia’s growing military assertiveness — in Ukraine, Syria, and beyond — lends support to the idea that its presence in the Arctic is potentially dangerous

So I’d say Russia is the number one threat to Canadian sovereignty right now, even though China is bigger with 10 times the population and arguably smarter.

Do you know a Russian spy who has weaseled their way into your workplace or maybe even married you to beef up their cover?

It’s not “okay” as the above-linked article suggests. It’s a betrayal on many levels that harms people both economically and emotionally. And it’s your duty to report them to the authorities if you do happen to have any empirical facts at your disposal.

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One thought on “The Russian Spy in My Econ Class | WIRED | Opinion

  1. Edit – updated this to add

    “Or they can get a disturbed accomplice in the computer center to ‘check the trash’ while they go through your emails. ”

    Expanded sentence to

    “…China is bigger with 10 times the population and arguably smarter.”

    “like Alexei Navalny, Marina Ovsyannikova and Pussy Riot”

    corrected to

    “unlike Alexei Navalny, Marina Ovsyannikova and Pussy Riot”


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