Secret Intelligence Service and Espionage

4636 Words Nov 23rd, 2013 19 Pages
To what extent have spies and covert operations shaped the course of history?

Espionage plays a big role in our history and there are many examples that show it. The importance of espionage in military affairs has been recognized since the beginning of recorded history. The Egyptians had a well-developed secret service, and spying and subversion are mentioned in the Iliad and in the Bible. The ancient Chinese treatise (c.500 B.C.) on the art of war devotes much attention to deception and intelligence gathering, arguing that all war is based on deception. In the Middle Ages, political espionage became important. Joan of Arc was betrayed by Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvais, a spy in the pay of the English, and Sir Francis Walsingham
…show more content…
Egyptian spies made significant contributions to espionage tradecraft. As the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome employed literate subjects in their civil services, many spies dealt with written communications. They had to develop codes and disguise writing. Egyptian spies were the first to develop the extensive use of poisons, including toxins derived from plants and snakes, to carry-out assassinations or acts of sabotage.
Greece
The rise of the Greek civilization brought forth new concepts of government and law enforcement. Between 1500 B.C. and 1200 B.C., Greece's many wars with its regional rivals led to the development of new military and intelligence strategies. The early Greeks relied on deception as a primary means of achieving surprise attacks on their enemies. So renowned were Greek employments of deceptive strategies, that Greek literature from antiquity celebrated its intelligence and espionage exploits. The legendary incident of the Trojan Horse, a wooden structure given to the city of Troy as gift, but which contained several hundred Greek soldiers seeking safe entrance into the heavily fortified rival city, became the symbol of Grecian intelligence prowess.
In the era of democratic Greek city-states, espionage was chiefly employed as a political tool. Agents of espionage spied on rival city-states, providing rulers with information on military strength and defenses. The most…