A whole dif­fer­ent world

> James Bond, when he next ap­pears on the big screen, will have his work cut out for him in this in­creas­ingly tu­mul­tuous times


JAMES BOND will likely next grace cin­ema screens to­wards the end of 2018. Whether he will in­habit a filmic world in which the UK is no longer a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Union and Don­ald Trump is the US pres­i­dent is yet to be seen – but if so, what a dif­fer­ent world it will be.

Bond is go­ing to have his work cut out for him. His mis­sion is likely to in­volve the nav­i­ga­tion of an in­creas­ingly por­ous Europe, vul­ner­a­ble to ma­lign in­flu­ences from a resur­gent Rus­sia.

The UK’s cy­ber-se­cu­rity de­fences face fur­ther chal­lenges as in­dus­trial es­pi­onage and mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence hack­ing in­ten­sify.

It’s in­ter­est­ing to con­sider how these changes might af­fect Bri­tain’s pre­mier su­per-spy.

How­ever good he is, he needs al­lies and ac­cess to the re­sources that they are able to mo­bilise. Take away those “as­sets” and Bond’s agency is de­graded.

So do these tu­mul­tuous times – with the pos­si­ble end of the An­glo-Amer­i­can spe­cial re­la­tion­ship and UK-Euro­pean co-op­er­a­tion – also mean the end of Bond as we know it?

Since Bond is Bri­tish, Brexit and the con­tem­po­rary back­lash against glob­al­i­sa­tion seem the most ob­vi­ous things to con­sider.

The ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the UK’s with­drawal from the EU and the dis­il­lu­sion­ment with neo-lib­eral glob­al­i­sa­tion will cer­tainly al­ter the way in which he is able to move and ex­e­cute his se­cret mis­sions in both sub­tle and not so sub­tle ways.

Brexit will cer­tainly have an im­pact on his mo­bil­ity.

Travel could be­come more com­pli­cated for a postBrexit Bond. His abil­ity to glide through cus­toms and bor­der in­spec­tions air­ports and sea­ports would cer­tainly di­min­ish.

So new sto­ry­lines might place fur­ther em­pha­sis on Bond’s abil­ity to cir­cum­vent con­ven­tional state con­trols and of­fer up fur­ther ev­i­dence of MI6 in­vest­ing in mul­ti­ple pass­ports.

As the Ja­son Bourne se­ries sug­gested, an as­sas­sin needs, among other things, a de­cent se­lec­tion of pass­ports, in­clud­ing those of close al­lies such as Canada and New Zealand and ad­ver­saries such as Rus­sia.

But M will likely have big­ger con­cerns than pass­port prob­lems, be­cause the UK may suf­fer when it comes to co­op­er­a­tion with EU in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

In the 2015 Spec­tre film, we learned of the ‘Nine Eyes’ in­tel­li­gence net­work that in­cluded tra­di­tional work­ing part­ners such as the US and World newer mem­bers like South Africa.

But this net­work would likely be com­pro­mised in this emerg­ing na­tion­al­is­tic world. Euro­pean part­ners might re­act badly to Brexit and tell the UK to rely on the US.

Dis­il­lu­sion­ment with glob­al­i­sa­tion more gen­er­ally might make part­ners less likely to share in­for­ma­tion and se­crets – every state for it­self could be­come the new ral­ly­ing cry even for the clos­est of al­lies.

Work­ing with the US might be tricky, though. The CIA’s Felix Leiter was helpful in Casino Royale (2006) and Quan­tum of So­lace (2008), but did not fea­ture in the two most re­cent films. The warm re­la­tion­ship that Bond en­joyed with ear­lier in­car­na­tions of Leiter has long gone.

This sense of unease with the UK-US re­la­tion­ship is sure to only in­crease with Trump as pres­i­dent. He may prime his ad­min­is­tra­tion to in­su­late and iso­late the US from forms of glob­al­i­sa­tion that are an­ti­thet­i­cal to Amer­ica’s re­cov­ery to “great­ness”.

Amer­ica (as rep­re­sented through the CIA) may well not want to work with Bond/M16 and share its re­sources and in­tel­li­gence as part of a new direc­tive to #MakeAmer­i­caGreatA­gain.

Leiter could be told in the fu­ture not to share in­tel­li­gence with Bond be­cause Amer­ica needs to pro­tect its in­ter­ests first and fore­most.

So in a world with­out the se­cu­rity of an An­glo-Amer­i­can con­nec­tion in ad­di­tion to the degra­da­tion of Euro­pean part­ner­ships, Bond’s role is likely to look very dif­fer­ent.

Will Bond still fight for global se­cu­rity or be repo­si­tioned more and more as a lone hero who fights for Bri­tain and its safety in a post­glob­alised world?

It might be too much to think that Bond could make Bri­tain ‘great’ again but he could help to stop a fur­ther ‘slide’ down the in­ter­na­tional peck­ing or­der.

And if the process of Brexit proves trou­bling and time con­sum­ing as we ex­pect, lead­ing to heated dis­cus­sions about par­lia­men­tary scru­tiny, MI6 may be the vic­tim of a blow­back as par­lia­men­tar­i­ans seek to re­claim their au­thor­ity from the ex­ec­u­tive.

The late M was very vexed about such scru­tiny; she patently did not care for it.

Bond will have to hope that he and MI6 are still ‘trusted’ and per­mit­ted to op­er­ate in the ‘shad­ows’, and al­lowed to do so in a world where na­tions find it harder than ever to trust each other, let alone the global po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sys­tem. – The In­de­pen­dent

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