Eisenhower and Kruschev in 1959, Obama and Putin in 2013
US Navy, Reuters

Serious countries do not start wars, hot or cold, because of defections. Fifty years ago this summer, Moscow announced that it had granted political asylum and citizenship to the greatest Western defector of the Cold War, H.A.R. “Kim” Philby. Philby’s flight to the Soviet Union was an embarrassment to the West on several levels. Not only had he been chief of the anti-Soviet counterespionage division of MI6 (the British foreign intelligence service) but, when suspicions about Philby first emerged in the mid-1950s, the Conservative government of the day publicly stood by him. To make matters worse,

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