Foreign Policy Magazine

The Oldest Game

The very long past of industrial espionage.

INDUSTRIAL ESPIONAGE is as ancient as industry itself—and a frequent accomplice to the rise of empires. From classical Greek cities to modern U.S. corporations, the theft of trade secrets has marked a transfer of power almost as routinely as bloodshed. The methods have switched from old-fashioned spying to online hacks, but the motivation remains the same: winning.

In the 18th century, a rising United States was the main culprit. Alexander Hamilton stressed the

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