ISAFIS Movie Discussion : The Bridge of Spies

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ISAFIS Movie Discussion : The Bridge of Spies

ISAFIS Movie Discussion

The Bridge of Spies – Bridging Movie into International Relations


An English man living in the United States of America (USA), Rudolf Abel, is arrested as a Soviet spy in 1957. Lawyer James B. Donovan, former prosecutor for Nazi war crimes in the Nuremberg Trials, is recruited from his law firm to defend the accused spy. The ongoing Cold War gives a backdrop on how unenviable Donovan’s task was: the strong anti-Communist general view opted to give Abel capital punishment. However, Donovan meets the judge and demands Abel not be sentenced to death, for at some point he can be useful to swap with American spy Soviet might have in custody, rendering the judge to sentence Abel with a 30 year imprisonment. The scenario Donovan has presupposed comes into play when Francis Gary Powers, a U-2 spy pilot is shot down within the Soviet Union territory and captured in 1960. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) sends a covert message to Donovan to release Abel in exchange for Powers. As the USSR doesn’t want to admit Abel is their spy, the exchange is to take place in East Germany. Donovan agrees to handle the negotiations, and his skills are tested when more dynamics take place: cheap nfl jerseys an American economics graduate student in West Berlin, Frederic Pryor, was arrested and labeled as American spy. The Central Intelligence Agency prioritizes Powers’ release, but Donovan strives to take both Powers and Pryor back home. The deal is made and the exchange takes place at the Glienicke Bridge.

How do We See the Spies Exchange in International Relations View?

Before actually linking the contents of the movie with the concepts in International Relations, this article has the burden to prove why it is important to discuss such issues within the scope of International Relations. The based-on-true-story movie is situated in the Cold War context. Cold War itself is a term that denotes the ideological conflict between western capitalism (USA) and Soviet-Marxism-Leninism (USSR), which involves the competition for hegemony between two economic and political systems. The cold war affected international relations between 1945-1990 in many ways, but one of the most significant is how it alters the international system (configuration between the sovereign states in the anarchical world where the highest authority is held by the states) from multipolar into bipolar. The political arrangements also gave birth to some international relations theories, such as deterrence and domino effect theory. The bipolar world of superpowers also affected countries who were not involved directly, for blocs of countries sprung within that period, they either have allegiance to USSR or the USA, plus a bloc that aimed to be neutral and to remain uninvolved in the then ongoing competition. All of these blockade and competition for domination can be analyzed with several concepts from International Relations, and those concepts are security, diplomacy, and human rights.

We argue that the safety of Powers and Abel is an assurance of both USA and USSR’s security. First of all, security in International Relations basically refers to the state of being free from danger and threat. In a traditional view, the referent object of security is the state, a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government. With state as the main object that should be free from threat, security has been widely applied to justify suspending civil liberties, making war, and massively reallocating resources for the well-being of the state. The assignment of intelligence, Powers and Abel, to their designated target is the form of effort towards reaching state security itself. The two competing parties, USA and USSR, would have tried any means to discover the frailty of their rival in order to win dominance. However, if captured, the spies will also jeopardize the security of both states, for they may carry important, classified information from their country of origin. It is only rational wholesale nfl jerseys that the USA and USSR want to recollect their agents.

On the other hand, Pryor is missing from the discussion because Fake Ray Bans he is just a civilian without clandestine information worth keeping. This is what is interesting from the traditional security: what matters the most is the state, its well-being and its sovereignty. If Pryor is captured and those things are not hampered, then he is not within the saving-priority list. It is also important to note that the concept of security has evolved and developed over time. Human security is an emerging paradigm for understanding for understanding threats that challenges the traditional notions of national security. It argues that the proper referent for security is the individual human instead of the state. Security will be achieved when the people can attain freedom from want (right to an adequate standard of living) and freedom from fear (any threat to an individual’s civil rights). In the era in which the movie is based on, states mainly use the more traditional concept’s tenets.

The negligence of the CIA towards Pryor’s safety depicts how security at that time sacrifice the human rights and the civil rights of individual in wartime era. Definitions first: the former are are rights that are believed to belong justifiably to every person due to being human, whilst the latter are a class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations and private individuals. Within the civil rights there is the ensuring of peoples’ physical and mental integrity, life, and safety. One agent that accompanies Donovan in the West Berlin questions Pryor’s cognitive abilities, mentioning the risks that he takes as “A Soviet Economics student, in West Berlin, in the middle of Cold War”. If only Donovan was not willing to “leave anyone behind”, there will be no Senior Research Scholar of Economic named Frederic Pryor in Swarthmore College, USA, now.

            We are of course in awe of Donovan’s skill in persuasion and taking chances while being assigned to make an exchange deal. Donovan’s set of capacities is actually very useful in conducting diplomacy. Diplomacy itself refers to the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of states. States must have interest, and sometimes those interests clash with others’ in, again, this anarchical world. In order to gain those interest without having to advance a Fake Oakleys violent war, states use diplomacy as means. Anyone can be a diplomat if only every information that we receive and give is Formación clear and elaborate without any disguise. However, sometimes the stance an actor show is not their actual interest. After Vogel, a German Democratic Republic (GDR) lawyer that supposedly represents Abel’s family finds out that Donovan is going to exchange Abel for Powers with the USSR, and Pryor with the GDR, he pulls out of the negotiation. GDR’s interest is to be able to “be seen” exchanging citizen with the USA, so that it is recognized as a state and can operate on its own without Soviet restraining them. However, Donovan realizes that GDR’s most important interest is to preserve its well-being, their elites, and their residents. Donovan states his ultimatum to GDR representative: USA wants Powers and Pryor for Abel, and if it is not fulfilled, the whole deal will be scrapped. When it is revealed that the reason why Soviet does not get Abel is because of GDR’s uncooperative stance, it is only natural that the USSR would blame the GDR.

All in all, the whole movie is a two and a half course of International Relations. It may only bring into picture a small fragment of it, but this small fragment eventually becomes the foundation for the development in international actors’ interactions in the latter days. Bridge of Spies is one example of movies that not only entertain, but also educate as well.

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