The Aquarium

by Ryu

Spying is not like the Americans show on their TVs and films. It’s a normal person doing normal things. The difference is the intention to obtain information. Many are recruited for their unremarkable appearance.

Finally I’ve received and watched this movie. I watched this movie as a man does when he knows he will watch it many times in the future. This movie is highly recoed to all wns.

Our man is recruited because he broke the army’s rules. He broke their rules to get…

… things done; this was noted by recruiter.

The training is interesting. He trains to fall backwards is a chair but to feel no fear. He is told to cross out all o’s, underline the a’s, and circle the s’s in a document, while othere try to distract him. Like CIA training, he never knows if something is just a test or not.

It is hard to enter the aquarium, but much harder to leave. You can only leave though death. Recruits are given one minute to decide if they’d like to enter or not, after being shown a film of punishment.

They present some rules which I endorse: if being followed, don’t run away. Do not lose your tail. Don’t let them know that you know. And the iron rule: when tailed, operations cease.

Spying is about human moves. There is no magical book of secrets. It is dealing with and understanding people. Do not fall for system propaganda that says you must be James Bond or Jason Bourne.

Aquarium is much different than an American movie. There is no dramatic music or action scenes. It’s all very gray and drab. The spies here do not carry guns. They do not stand out, they are not handsome.

I’m grateful for having been shown this movie. I trade it for “The Recruit” on the American CIA.

They present this song. The agent is to think of it after meeting an asset.
“hunt for young wolves” by vladimir Vysotsky.

6 Responses to “The Aquarium”

  1. Don’t forget those who sift thru all the information to actually produce “intelligence” that is actually useful.

    • All intel is useful. I believe, like the NSA, in total information awareness. But every man in the field generates a terrific amount of intel. One eventually needs a secretary just to organize it all.

  2. Also I recommend you read Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews, a retired CIA agent, published in 2013. It’s very anti-Russian, however, it does point out a weakness in Soviet/Russian intelligence agencies that is also shown in Aquarium. Namely that they put you on the conveyor and take you back to the Rodina and kill you the moment they have suspicion of treason or even just compromise. If you make a mistake in the field or get compromised, you should be able to report to your superior immediately and without excessive fear. What happens with Russians is that they say, “Oh crap, I made a mistake, now I can either defect to the USA or get killed by my own.” So they defect out of fear.

    Both Aquarium and Red Sparrow show this weakness of Russian intelligence. The Red Sparrow Russian spy girl compromises a Frenchman, and her superiors try to blackmail him. But the Frenchman immediately reports the incident to his ambassador, and they transfer him back to France for 18 months. He keeps his job even. If he had feared execution or a stretch in prison, he’d have betrayed France to the Russians.

    In Red Sparrow, the CIA superiors are much nicer to their case officers than the SVR (Russian) superiors, so the case officers are less likely to turn against their country out of fear or revenge. The SVR girl, Red Sparrow, sees this and wants to join them because an organization that treats its workers well is obviously superior. Her superiors are real bastard old style Soviet apparatchiks that will order the conveyor for the SVR case officers at the drop of a hat. I’m going to write a post about this, but you’re getting the sneak preview here.

    Making people want to be loyal to you out of good feeling about you is the Western European and Anglo-Saxon way. It definitely works better than the Russian way of threats and compulsion.

    Of course the weak sauce of “accepting everyone” and “being nice because there is no other option” that is typical of churches and weak people does not breed loyalty either. The CIA superiors can be hard when they need to be, and their club is very exclusive.

    So you need your organization or club or tribe to be exclusive, but it must treat it’s members kindly and fairly. You want their loyalty to be in their heart.

    Also, interesting comparison between Nathaniel Nash, a Southern patrician whose family was independently wealthy and joined the CIA for adventure and meaning in his life, and Red Sparrow girl, who joined because her uncle had a lever on her. If Nash lost loyalty, he’d probably just resign and walk away, not defect. If Nash made a mistake and/or got compromised, he’d report it to his superiors, limiting the damage and limiting his own punishment. You can’t make people afraid to make a mistake or get compromised.

    The true spy memoirs and semi-fictional novels written by ex-spies are very good for teaching you how to run a political organization and/or secret society. All the same stuff applies.

    • I am doing that, MW. Spying is a very normal activity. There is no guns or adventure. Usually it’s just some non official cover op stationed in a foreign city, taking passport apps during the day, going to diplo parties at night. Rarely he’s able to actually recruit someone. A lot less sexy than the movies.

  3. This tells me something….. We can do it….. We WILL do it………

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