Of M.I.C.E. And Men

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues, so far thirty-four people and three companies have been indicted or pleaded guilty to criminal charges.  Five of the six advisers to Mr. Donald J. Trump that are on that list have submitted guilty pleas.  Only time will tell how many more people close to Mr. Trump may be indicted as the investigation comes to a close.  I will not venture a guess as to who, or when those indictments will come down (I thought it would have happened long before now) but I have no doubt that others — some very close to the president — will be charged.

Whether those charges are directly connected to working with the Russians to throw the election in Mr. Trump’s direction is hard to say for sure.  However, of those indicted by Mr. Mueller to date, twenty-six are Russian nationals.

As the investigation continues to unfold, keep in the back of your mind the reasons why people spy on their own country or cooperate with foreign governments to undermine their home government.  What could motivate a person to betray their country?  There is an old acronym that summarizes those reasons.  It is M.I.C.E. and breaks down as follows.

  • M — Money.  This can take many forms.  Money to become rich.  Money because the individual needs it for personal or family reasons.  Money “owed” to them but because of “bad breaks” that they fault their own government for creating they never got what they felt they deserved.  And so on.
  • I — Ideology.  This was the motivator for some in the early days of the Cold War or for those that cooperated with the Soviet Union in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s.  It is often an idealistic view of a particular ideology, such as communism being good for the poor and blue-collar workers.
  • C– Compromised.  This is otherwise known as good old-fashioned blackmail.
  • E — Ego.  This is one’s own sense of self-worth.  It can be the result of trying to increase one’s own sense of self-importance or it can be a result of having the ability to sabotage someone else’s sense of self-importance for pure spite.  Egos take many forms but the knowledge that you can do something and then did do something of great import is a significant motivator.  It can also be the ego boost of doing something daring or forbidden that no one else has the nerve to do.

In the current era, the two biggest motivators are money and ego.  And of course, some combination of two or more of these factors may play a part in getting someone to betray their fellow citizens.  For example, having compromising information on a potential asset may not be enough to bring them over to your side.  Sweetening the deal with substantial cash or some other fiduciary reward gets you there.  It could be that the potential asset is severely in debt and about to be embarrassed or financially ruined should that information become known.  That individual would be compromised by the release of that information. They are also further compromised if the “recruiter” offers to solve the indebtedness problem, which of course, further compromises the potential asset once they take the money or the debt is resolved.

Of those advisers to Mr. Trump indicted thus far, money and ego seem to be the driving factors.  We will see what happens as the investigation continues.  I for one will be curious as to their motivation.