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These are all really good questions and I don't have answers other than to say there's a 'prisoner's dilemma'/'tragedy at the commons'/'cold war' situation. If you do no espionage and no sabotage, even though it is a higher moral ground, you don't exist for very long as a country.

So it's damned if you do and damned if you don't.




Except I suspect many countries actually do without effective espionage or sabotage, if only because they lack the capability.

I guess you can argue that many of these countries rely on allies who perform espionage and sabotage, thus benefiting from those activities despite not doing them themselves. But that still means that closely-aligned countries can survive without spying on each other. I might not have all the facts, but it seems unlikely that Germany or Brazil would be considered an existential threat to the US in the foreseeable future, so why spy on those countries? Slight economic advantages don't seem to justify the breach of ethics.

I guess I can see what you are saying and I don't think we can have a world without spying any time soon. But that doesn't mean all international spying is justified.




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