Today In Fact, 28 May

Spy vs Spy. Ian Fleming was born today in London in 1908. He was an intelligence operative and a journalist and of course authored the James Bond novels which the Broccoli family have turned into a major movie franchise.

The theme of many James Bond movies often involves a shadowy and powerful organisation seeking world domination ( a bit like the Broccolli’s?). The reality is somewhat more prosaic I think. Broad membership organisations are formed as platforms for regional and political aims. These organisations inevitably become hosts to intelligence operatives and targets for counter-intelligence operations. In other words, the spies infest an organisation and create their own evil.

As if to prove the point, one such organisation , the Palestine Liberation Organization, founded today in 1964, was created in for the purpose of establishing an independent State of Palestine. It was recognised as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed observer status at the United Nations since 1974. In 1993, PLO recognised Israel’s right to exist in peace, accepted UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and rejected “violence and terrorism”; in response, Israel officially recognised the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. There are a number of leftist and Arab nationalist organisations who belong to the PLO but it remains weak and full of spies serving a vast array of interests.

Another organisation which has hosted intelligence operatives and has been the victim of state sponsored terror is the South African Council of Churches. Formed today in 1968, the SACC has sought to indigenise and make its work relevant to the South African context.

In 1985, SACC theologians issued the Kairos (Moment of Truth) Document. The Kairos document called for the church to stand up for the poor and the oppressed, and stand against the injustices of apartheid. The document said Christians should serve the needs of the struggle for liberation, and mobilise its members to work and plan for a change in government. It also supported civil disobedience.

The SACC headquarters at Khotso House in Johannesburg was destroyed by a bomb in 1988. The apartheid regime believed the ANC had secret meetings there. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission later found that State President P.W. Botha had personally ordered the bombing. Former Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok and several senior policemen applied for and were granted amnesty for the bombing. The bombing was directed by the infamous Eugene de Kock, then commander at Vlakplaas, a secret facility of the security branch of the South African Police force.

More recently the SACC seems to have been commandeered by a group of militant ageing black consciousness clerical types and its finances have been compromised.

Another regional membership organisation serving foreign powers is ECOWAS; a group of fifteen West African countries forming the Economic Community of West African States. Founded today in 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, its mission is to promote economic integration across the region. It has its own bank of course and is headquartered in Abuja, Nigeria.

Considered one of the pillars of the African Economic Community, the organisation was founded in order to achieve “collective self-sufficiency” for its member states by creating a single large trading bloc through an economic and trading union. It also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region. In fact it is a surrogate for Western interests with many member states acting as puppets for French and US foreign policy.

So I guess today we can have a vodka martini, shaken not stirred and raise a toast to Ian Fleming but also consider how broad-based organisational platforms get infested with intelligence operatives and host spies with altogether different agendas to the organisation they ostensibly serve.

Douglas Racionzer (see Doug’s daily insights at