Friday, July 18, 2008

Tipping Point PSYOP or Does It Pay To Throw Good Money After Bad?

I arrived in Sarajevo in July 1997 to serve as the DCO of the NATO Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force (CJICTF). By that time Radovan Karadic was already a wanted man. Rumors had him moving frequently at night in a caravan of cars. During the time I was in Bosnia there were several ‘sightings’ and much speculation about where he was and if he would ever get caught.

“Ever” came this week with a raid in Belgrade. Mr. Karadic was found to be leading a new life with a new physical and mental persona. The fact that he eluded his pursuers for so long is likely to be a testimonial to his personal intellect and discipline and to some level of acquiescence by the Serbian government.

What caused the tipping point? Was it PSYOP? Not in this case. I’ve sometimes split target audiences (TA) into Green, Yellow and Red. Green are people that already support your point view, Red are those who will never come around to your perspective and Yellow are the folks in the middle.

Mr. Karadic and his supporters over the last decade likely fall into the Red Group. A TA that has little regard for the Coalition point of view. Frankly I didn’t think that PSYOP efforts to erode his support would be successful. My feeling was that his supporters whether loyalists from the glory days in Pale or his new neighbors in Belgrade would not be persuaded to withdraw their support and turn him in.

If my hypothesis is correct, then why all of a sudden is there a hot tip that leads to an arrest? As Mr. Clinton might have said, “It’s the economy stupid!” The fact is that today’s Serbian government is interested in EU membership (see and they needed to corral Mr. Karadic and soon his #1 henchman, General Ratko Mladic as evidence of their worthiness to join the EU.

The moral of the story: nations must use all their instruments synergistically if they are to achieve the goals they set for themselves. In this case the Serbian government decided that the nation’s economic future was more important than continuing to shield one of their ‘heroes’.

Economics is a powerful weapon. Success of micro-financing efforts in Iraq have largely gone unnoticed and unreported, hopefully these successes and more importantly the people who have improved their lives are being aggressively promoted in the theater and internationally.

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