Espionage: the Second Oldest Profession

TuesdayS January 09 to March 12 10:00 am to 12 noon

ZOOM Session

Printer Friendly Version

Reading List

Presenter: Dr Olivier Courteaux

Course OverviewThe dawn of cyber warfare, often associated with the threat of terrorism and foreign interference in national elections, has challenged global intelligence communities. But espionage is nothing new. Espionage rose to prominence under Queen Elizabeth I and played a central role in the US War of Independence, the Napoleonic Wars as well as WWI and WWII. Espionage’s 'Golden Age' curtain was drawn in 1991 with the end of the Cold War … but did another one open? Welcome to the world of covert operations! 

January 9: Decoding the Secret Language of Espionage - An introduction to the world of espionage and its language. Exploring the meaning of some of the key words such as “asset”, “double-agent”, “HUMINT”, “SIGNINT” and “deception”. A look at the circumstances behind the founding of the first secret services, from Elizabeth I to Louis XVI and the French contribution to the independence of the USA.

January 16: The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars - The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars pitted France against most of Europe and paved the way for intense espionage activity. A look at the British and Napoleonic systems and how Joseph Fouché, the French interior minister relied so heavily on counterespionage and disinformation.

January 23: The Great War - Following decades where covert operations played a key role, belligerent countries made good use of espionage to break the stalemate on the battlefield. Intelligence services helped bring the U.S. into the war in 1917. A look at the shift from human intelligence to code breaking, air reconnaissance and camouflage, plus deception on ‘a grand scale’.

January 30: The Secrets of the Kremlin (1917-1937) - During these years, the Communist Empire (founded by Lenin and managed with an iron fist by Stalin) spent a great deal of time and resources spying on its residents. A look at domestic espionage in the USSR with the plots/crimes committed in the name of “Mother Russia”.

February 6: The War of Spies (1937-1941) - From Japan’s 1937 invasion of China to Operation Barbarossa (German invasion of the USSR in June 1941) and Pearl Harbor, deception and counterespionage played a crucial role. Richard Sorge, a German journalist working for Stalin warned Moscow of Germany’s invasion plan.

February 13: The Daring Women Who Helped Win WWII - By the time the war broke out in Europe in September 1939, women had long been involved in the shadowy world of spies. WWII offered women new opportunities. The resistance movements in Western Europe and the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) called on women to conduct some of the boldest covert operations in France and Belgium. Remarkable women: Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, Andrée de Jongh, Josephine Baker.

February 20: Covert Operations, Ruses and Bluff in the Second World War - Conspiracies, ruses, covert operations and deception ruled the day. A look at Operation Bodyguard, the most sophisticated deception, which paved the way to the landings in Normandy and the liberation of Western Europe.

February 27: Cold War Espionage, Part I: Protecting the Biggest Secret of the War - The role of espionage in the race to build the atomic bomb. As the U.S. tried to protect the Manhattan Project, Soviet spy rings uncovered the secrets behind the atomic bomb, increasing tension between the U.S. and the USSR - the “Red Scare” of the 50s and anti-communist paranoia.

March 5: Cold War Espionage, Part II: Red Menace and Covert Operations - Tensions between East and West quickly rose following the Second World War. A look at the rise of the CIA and its growing role in international crises, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War and CIA cooperation with Latin-American dictatorships.

March 12: From 9-11 to Cyberespionage - The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 ushered in a new era of international relations and espionage. A look at the rise of radical Islamism, the intelligence failure that led to the 9-11 attacks, the emergence of cyberterrorism, the scandal of Wikileaks and foreign interference in elections. What will the future hold for cyberespionage?

Chair: Deb Forsyth-Petrov

Dr Olivier Courteaux An accomplished lecturer, historian and author, Dr. Courteaux received his PhD in History from the University of Paris-Sorbonne and was a faculty member at Royal Military College and at Ryerson University. He is a frequent lecturer for several later life learning programs in Toronto, including those at Glendon College and Ryerson University.  He is the author of Canada Between Vichy and Free France, 1940-1945 (2013) and Quatre Journées qui ébranlèrent le Québec on Charles de Gaulle's famous 1967 Vive le Québec Libre (2017). He is currently working on his latest book, Suez, 1869, the last triumph of the Empress Eugenie.