The announcement of the defection of Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa, may have come as no surprise to those who know him. This is not simply because, doubtless acting through rational self-interest, he decided to jump ship once he thought it was going down. It is also because he is the former head of the Libyan external intelligence service. You might think that being a spy, especially one who was expelled from this country 30 years ago and who was at the dark heart of many of his regimes unsavoury practices, would make him the least likely to defect. After all, he presumably knows about may have been involved in the Lockerbie bombing and the murder of the policewoman Yvonne Fletcher. Surely such a man would have no interest in defecting to the old enemy? But quite the contrary: spies are often the most likely to jump ship. This is not because theyre innately disloyal theyre usually the opposite but because theyre realists. They know the other side, they have secrets to trade and the contacts through whom to make the offer. During the Cold War, most Russian officials swallowed the Soviet line that capitalism was dying and state socialism was the inevitable and imminent future. But Russian foreign service officials posted to the West could see that life in Switzerland was better than in Sverdlovsk. They had only to look in shop windows crammed with goods or watch the downtrodden workers driving to work in their own cars. But Koussa was a diplomat, not a spy. Spies have more than their daily observations to go on because its usually their task to recruit other spies. That means talking to the other side, getting to know them, assessing their strengths and weaknesses. They learn more about the world, and to do their job well they have to see their own side at least partially through the eyes of others. If Koussa had spies in London, Paris or Washington, hed have a better idea than anyone else in his government of the political will and military might that was being deployed. And hed know the strengths and weaknesses of his own side only too well. But Koussa probably had another advantage, all his own. Its clear that he played a leading part in bringing Libya in from the cold in recent years. Given what we know of MI6s role in that, he was possibly a principal liaison contact. That would have given him unique access to the people he would need to talk to if he wanted to defect. After all, in a dictatorship with paranoid tendencies, how would you go about defecting? How would you know who to talk to, whom to trust, how to contrive such a delicate conversation or how to find out whether theyd actually want you? Let alone how to arrange it physically. Koussa would have needed no intermediary; he could get it from the horses mouth. Indeed, we now know he talked directly to William Hague, the Foreign Secretary. Now he has the rest of life before him. He may, of course, be hoping for a formative role in a new Libyan government nothing now seems impossible in the Middle East and he may have got his family (and fortune?) out with him. But few defectors make a great success of their new lives. Telegraph