[November 16, 2018] It has been said that any war that is undertaken by a nation, cannot be won without spies. Spies provide us with an in-depth understanding of the enemy and allow us to ferret out how the enemy attacks us covertly. Today, I’ll highlight a small group of spies that penetrated the interworkings of British intelligence agencies; they are referred to as the Cambridge Five.
A number of spies, supported by the Soviet Union, have penetrated Western intelligence agencies and have done so remarkably well and undetected. The Cambridge Five spy ring loosely refers to a number of spies recruited from Cambridge University in England. While there is debate over how many members were part of the ring, the ring is most known for five members.1
“Trust, but verify.” – Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States
Ronald Reagan understood that anything that was to be accomplished in the political realm would have to be verified. He was showing a ‘trusting face’ to the Soviets because he understood they believed in respect but also in espionage. Information about the Cambridge Five was given to Reagan by British PM Margaret Thatcher.
Spies break the important trust between individuals and their society. That is why they are treated so harshly if caught and not treated well even by the country they spy for. Several of the Cambridge Five members defected to the USSR but were subject to suspicion by their new “friends” in the Soviet Union and its intelligence agencies.
All of the five were convinced that the Marxism–Leninism of Soviet Communism was the best available political system, and especially the best defense against the rise of fascism. All pursued successful careers in branches of the British government. They passed large amounts of intelligence to the Soviet Union, so much so that the KGB became suspicious that at least some of it was false.
Perhaps as important as the intelligence they passed was the demoralizing effect to the British Establishment of their slow unmasking, and the mistrust in British security this caused in the United States.2
- Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Don MacLean, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross.