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Persuasion and ISIS - Dilbert Blog

Persuasion and ISIS

Experts say ISIS can’t be beaten by military means alone. You have to get to the “deep” causes. Here are two experts saying just that, including a former head of the CIA. The problem is that observers seem to have different ideas of what is at the root of it all.

According to the article, many people believe the underlying problem is “chaos, poor governance, and poverty.” But that framing does a poor job of explaining why – as the article claims – Arab countries are 5% of the population of the world but produce 50% of the terror acts. Why are the other places with the same poor conditions NOT becoming terrorists at the same rate? 

Former CIA director Hayden says the fight has to be on “ideological” grounds, the way communism was eventually defeated. He refers to that as the “deep fight” and points out that Westerners have no credibility in the ideological framing of either Islamic beliefs or terrorist beliefs. We can’t influence them from the inside where it matters because we’re not on the inside.

If you have been reading my blog for the past year, allow me to translate what I just said into persuasion language. What the former head of the CIA is saying is that we don’t have the opportunity for “pacing and leading” the terrorists because we are too different from the start. To influence people at the “deep” level it helps to first become like them, to build trust and credibility. Later perhaps you can lead them to a better place, once they recognize you as one of their own.

That’s what Nixon did when he went to China. First he paced Americans who were distrustful of China until he was just like them. Then he visited China – a big deal at the time – and led Americans to his position of friendly relations.

Likewise, Trump paced the most hardcore Republican base in the primaries before leading them to moderation on immigration, Obamacare repeal, waterboarding, and more. Same persuasion method as Nixon. 

But we have no pacing and leading strategy for ISIS because there is no way for non-terrorists to act just like terrorists before leading them somewhere better. That path is closed off. We need a different type of persuasion.

So what would Trump, the Master Persuader, do in a situation in which pacing and leading are not available as tools? I think he would look to the physical environment for his persuasion. He would look to manipulate the physical situation around ISIS like it was the user interface to their brains. The tell for this brand of persuasion is that there would be major physical activity in ISIS territory that was not specifically military. Look for the Master Persuader to change something large and physical in their environment that they can’t ignore. That’s the persuasion play in disguise.

And guess what? Trump has been telling you his persuasion play against ISIS for over a year. You didn’t recognize it because it is disguised as something else.

And guess what else? I have been describing that same persuasion play against ISIS to you for over two years. Based on the comments in my blog at the time, you found my suggestions to be unrealistic and simplistic. But the context has changed. You watched me predict the outcome of the election using the Persuasion Filter, getting it right while the experts got it wrong. Now my crazy ideas from the past have a new life because you have to ask yourself if any other ridiculous things I have blogged about might also be correct. This is one of those cases. 

I called my idea for a persuasion play against ISIS a “filter fence.” Trump calls his persuasion play “safe zones.” Same thing. 

The reason you don’t recognize Trump’s plan as persuasion is that he’s disguised it as humanitarian assistance to the innocent. That’s how you start. But once the safe zones are up and running, the persuasion begins. 

Safe zones would be a big deal to the psychology of the region. It would give hope to the innocent. It would give ISIS a new thing to worry about. It would be large and physical and influence lots of things around it. But most of all – and this is the important part – it creates a mental categorization that has in one bucket the people who are in the safe zone and in the other bucket the people who are not. And the people inside will probably mostly be women and children – also known as the future of ISIS.

The long term persuasion play is to slowly drain ISIS of any illusion that someday they will be happily making love to their multiple wives while their many children are studying the holy scriptures. You ruin that illusion by putting the women and children from ISIS territory in the safe zone, unavailable to the adult men of ISIS now or later. Once ISIS has been reduced to nothing but horny, angry men with no biological future, they will turn on each other because all of that energy has to go somewhere. Here I’m assuming the border countries have their own walls to keep ISIS in. That’s happening as we speak.

Humans are biological entities before they are mental entities. Our biology influences our minds. And our most important biological imperative is to reproduce. When ISIS sees their biological future escaping to safe zones it will leave them with nothing. Their caliphate will become a jail.

Once you have the safe zones up and running then you also have to do something about the drug that ISIS gives their fighters. It’s called Captagon, or in some cases it might be meth by another name. Apparently that’s the secret ingredient to their violent ways. The persuasion play in this case is to create mountains of counterfeit Captagon pills with either too-weak, too-strong, or different chemistry. You want ISIS to no longer trust their drug sources. That will get in their heads too.

And that’s how you beat ISIS with persuasion.

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