John Le Carré
Quotations


I don’t think it is given to any of us to be impertinent to great religions with impunity.

It was man who ended the Cold War in case you didn’t notice. It wasn’t weaponry, or technology, or armies or campaigns. It was just man. Not even Western man either, as it happened, but our sworn enemy in the East, who went into the streets, faced the bullets and the batons and said: we’ve had enough. It was their emperor, not ours, who had the nerve to mount the rostrum and declare he had no clothes. And the ideologies trailed after these impossible events like condemned prisoners, as ideologies do when they’ve had their day.

A committee is an animal with four back legs.

For decades to come the spy world will continue to be the collective couch where the subconscious of each nation is confessed.

Ideologies . . . have no heart of their own. They’re the whores and angels of our striving selves.

What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs? They’re a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors too, yes; pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives.

It’s easy to forget what intelligence consists of: luck and speculation. Here and there a windfall, here and there a scoop.

You ask can we ever trust the Bear? . . . I will give you several answers at once. The first is no, we can never trust the Bear. For one reason, the Bear doesn’t trust himself. The Bear is threatened and the Bear is frightened and the Bear is falling apart. The Bear is disgusted with his past, sick of his present and scared stiff of his future. He often was. The Bear is broke, lazy, volatile, incompetent, slippery, dangerously proud, dangerously armed, sometimes brilliant, often ignorant. Without his claws, he’d be just another chaotic member of the Third World. . . . The second answer is yes, we can trust the Bear completely. The Bear has never been so trustworthy. The Bear is begging to be part of us, to submerge his problems in us, to have his own bank account with us, to shop in our High Street and be accepted as a dignified member of our forest as well as his. . . . The Bear needs us so desperately that we may safely trust him to need us.



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