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When you picture an undercover CIA agent, you may think of Claire Danes on Homeland. But the CIA isn't just the stuff of action movies and TV dramas. It's an actual profession, as Amaryllis Fox would know.
Fox, whose CIA cover is still being rolled back, just spoke publicly for the first time ever about working undercover on counterterrorism and intelligence with the Clandestine Service. In a video from the Al Jazeera news channel AJ+, she talks about what her 10 years in the CIA taught her.
"If I've learned one lesson from my time with the CIA, it is this: Everybody believes they are the good guy," she says.
She explains how people in Muslim countries think Americans hate Islam, while Americans think Islamic terrorists hate our freedom. In reality, she says, most people fighting on behalf of their countries are trying to carve out better futures for their families or end specific policies. But they're not listening to each other.
The narratives we usually hear about opposing countries "are stories manufactured by a really small number of people on both sides who amass a great deal of power and wealth by convincing the rest of us to keep killing each other," she says. "I think the question we need to be asking as Americans examining our foreign policy is whether or not we're pouring kerosene on a candle. The only real way to disarm your enemy is to listen to them."
The video ends with a mic-drop-worthy moment: "As long as your enemy is a subhuman psychopath that's going to attack you no matter what you do, this never ends. But if your enemy is a policy, however complicated, that we can work with."