Spies Like Them

A group of gray-haired representatives from across Europe gather in a central London gentlemen’s club to discuss the United States’ aggressive spying techniques.

Credit: Uli Blanché.

GERMANY: So, we are agreed then?

ALL: We are.

GERMANY: By monitoring our leader’s phone, the United States has stepped over the line.

FRANCE: They have gone too far.

ITALY: They cannot be allowed to get away with it.

UNITED KINGDOM: Quite right, old boy. The Yanks seem to think they can do whatever they like. Outrageous behavior.

GERMANY: Our Chancellor will phone the American President and demand an apology.

SPAIN: Yes, she should do that.

ITALY: We will send a letter of protest. We don’t want them listening in to our President’s calls too.

DENMARK: If they even think about spying on us, there will be trouble.

FRANCE: We have begun our protest already. Our President telephoned the Americans after breakfast yesterday.

UNITED KINGDOM: Actually I think it was nearer to lunchtime—so I gather.

FRANCE: How would you know that?

UNITED KINGDOM: I think perhaps your man mentioned it to our man. You know, just idle chit chat. Anyway, what shall we do about this Obama fellow, eh? We need to speak with one voice—all of Europe, standing up to American threats.

PORTUGAL: That’s exactly what we need: a single voice. We could send a message through the European Union.

GERMANY: No, it should come from us first. Our Chancellor’s privacy was violated, she should be the one to protest.

ITALY: It was a good job she didn’t say anything too sensitive while the Americans were listening.


ITALY: I mean—a good job she probably didn’t say anything too sensitive. She didn’t, did she?

GERMANY: Of course not.

ITALY: Well there you are then. No serious damage done.

UNITED KINGDOM: Except that bit about the Middle East. She shouldn’t have said that.

ITALY: No, that was unfortunate.

GERMANY: What bit about the Middle East?

NORWAY: We thought she was making a good point, to be honest.

UNITED KINGDOM: Did you really? You were saying the opposite when you spoke to the Russians the other week.

NORWAY: How do you know we spoke to the Russians?

GERMANY: When we spoke to the Russians, we didn’t even talk about the Middle East.

DENMARK: Not at first, you didn’t.

GERMANY: Not you as well.

DENMARK: Look, we were trying to listen in to the Bulgarians but the line got crossed.

BULGARIA: Why you little—

THE NETHERLANDS: Gentlemen, calm yourselves! Perhaps it is time we were completely honest with each other. We are all guilty of a little light espionage every now and then.

UNITED KINGDOM: He’s right chaps. We all know what the Italians have been up to.

GERMANY: And we’ve all been listening in to your Prime Minister’s Cabinet meetings since Margaret Thatcher took office.

SPAIN: And your royal family. They’re always worth spying on.

UNITED KINGDOM: Now steady on old chap, the Prime Minister is one thing, but spying on Her Majesty—that’s disgusting. You can’t do that.

ALL OF SCANDINAVIA: Oh yes we can.


GERMANY: Gentlemen, gentlemen. We must stick to the agenda. You all have it printed out in front of you.

FRANCE: Some of us had it out of your mailbox three days ago.

GERMANY: Whatever. Please, gentlemen. What are we going to do about the Americans?

FINLAND: We must be clear.

AUSTRIA: We have to send a strong signal to them, direct.

UNITED KINGDOM: Yes, it’s no use messing about with diplomacy. We need to speak to Obama himself.

BELGIUM: We shall demand a meeting.

GERMANY: We shall insist he comes to us to apologize.

UNITED KINGDOM: We shall send a notification direct to his phone. Spy on that, Barack!

A mysterious voice interjects—

MYSTERIOUS VOICE: It’s OK guys, we heard you.

MONACO: Who is that?

POLAND: Obama? Is that you?

MYSTERIOUS VOICE: Make no mistake: we only spy on you for your own good.


MYSTERIOUS VOICE: If there’s anything else you want to say, just put it in an encrypted email to any of your senior ministers. You can be sure we’ll get it.