CHAPTER 2: THE PROTAGONIST’S MISSION
The protagonist’s objective is the manifestation of an altered behavior within specific time-constraints by the decision maker. The only way to obtain that objective is for the antagonist to intellectually arrive at the conclusive decision within the time-restraints available. To obtain the objective, the protagonist must create the stimuli required to motivate the antagonist to alter the behavior based on the judgment that it is more profitable for the antagonist to do so.
Sufficient motivation of the antagonist is required in order to alter the expected behavior in a timely fashion. Thus the agent of behavior change is motivation based on the perceptions of the antagonist. The greatest challenge for the protagonist is to tailor all motivational efforts to the specific make-up of the particular antagonist’s perspective. Mirror-imaging can result in failure.
The protagonist’s role is more complicated than that of an instructor who needs to teach a lesson or skill. There is often no time for a demonstration performance or for the reinforcement of acceptable behavior over unacceptable behavior. If the protagonist waits for an unacceptable behavior to take place before generating motivation, the deterrence issue has already failed.
For example, once the suicide terrorists performed their unacceptable behavior on 9/11, it was no longer a matter of deterrence. Action needed to be taken to physically prevent continued warfare against the United States. However, if prior to 9/11, the United States decision makers been of sufficient foresight to expect the non-governmental terrorist organizations operating out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and other states to attempt to kill thousands of people in the United States, and if the decision makers had been able to convey a meaningful deterrence message to those governments, deterrence could have succeeded. Initially this assertion may sound implausible, but now consider an academic and very extreme example.
If sufficient time before 9/11, US envoys had been able to show convincing evidence to the leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq that after the non-governmental organizations operating out their countries launched terrorists attacks against the US, they would be targeted. In that targeting, the then current leaders of both countries would be killed, their armies vanquished, and their government would be replaced with others—all in short time. If the antagonists in this case had been convinced of their fate should they continued on the path that they eventually did take, it is quite reasonable to agree that they would have altered their behavior. They probably would have gladly given up the terrorist organizations to retain their own lives and government, which was their precious. Instead no successful motivation was generated, no deterrence was achieved.
Some may argue that the world and their former countries are better off without Hussein and Omar and their ruling parties. That argument goes beyond the scope of deterrence. Many cruel and terrible leaders have ruled states throughout the ages; deterrence is the process of avoiding wars, even wars against cruel and terrible leaders. The purpose of a universal formula for successful deterrence is to prevent having to use a crystal ball and a time machine to generate deterrence, which only works in academic examples. Real deterrence requires real action before unacceptable behavior is committed.