Oct. 12, 2010 (TruthDig) -- John le Carré, the former British spy turned spy novelist, has some grave words for Tony Blair. More than seven years after the invasion of Iraq, the former British prime minister, now out of office and touring the world pushing his political memoir, is encountering serious protests at his book signings.
“I can’t understand that Blair has an afterlife at all. It seems to me that any politician who takes his country to war under false pretenses has committed the ultimate sin,” he told me when I sat down with le Carré recently in London. “We’ve caused irreparable damage in the Middle East. I think we shall pay for it for a long time.”
We sat in a television studio across the River Thames overlooking two of his former places of employment: MI5, the domestic security service, and MI6, the secret intelligence service, which operates internationally (the equivalents of the U.S.‘s FBI and CIA). John le Carré is the pen name of David Cornwell, who was a spy from the late 1950s into the early 1960s. He began to write novels and had to assume a pen name due to his work as a spy. He was stationed in Germany when, in 1961, he saw the Berlin Wall go up, motivating him to write his third novel, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.”
The novel came out as another British spy novelist, Ian Fleming, was enjoying success with his series about the notorious fictional British spy James Bond. Unlike the flamboyant characters and endless action of the Bond books and films, the subjects of le Carre’s novels were bleak characters engaged in unsavory acts of deception and calculated violence. With the world focused on the Berlin Wall and the Cuban missile crisis, le Carre captured a global audience, depicting the raw reality of the spy on the front lines of the Cold War.