If my book title were not ‘Life of a Double Agent’ it would be ‘The Negotiator’. The unique trait of the lead character, Jim Hunt, is his negotiating skill. He is not the typical spy character in most spy novels. He doesn’t go around killing people like James Bond, 007, licensed to kill. His job with the CIA is to find the weaknesses in people and negotiate with them to get the information he is seeking. His strength is finding what people need, and using that to get more information from them. Even in his “regular” job he is a negotiator.
When he was a salesman for his success was in negotiating with customers to convince them that his product and the services his company provided were more valuable than the products they were buying from some other supplier. Most customers initially are looking for a better price. Jim Hunt was able to convince the potential customers to pay the same price or often a slightly higher price for the product by convincing the customer that the quality of his product was better or the services he offered would add value to his product.
After he moved into management positions he continued to use his negotiating skills. He negotiated sales contracts for products and contracts for investments in manufacturing plants. He did this by convincing the customers that his proposals were more valuable than the competitors.
Jim Hunt found himself negotiating the release of kidnapped employees while working on a business opportunity in the Philippines. Faced with ruthless kidnappers, he convinced them the only way he would pay their demands was with a definitive guarantee from the kidnappers that they would release the kidnapped employees unharmed. He convinced them that they must negotiate with him and find a way to satisfy his demands if they wanted him to release the money they were demanding. He managed to extend the negotiations long enough to reach a successful resolution to the kidnapping.
With every mission throughout his long career he found that negotiations were the key to his success.
His life as a double agent may not have been as thrilling or as action packed as James Bond’s or Mitch Rapp’s or Jack Ryan’s but sometimes the stakes were just as high and his successes lead to saving lives, strengthening the United States intelligence agencies, and ultimately making the United States and the world a safer place.
It is too bad our politicians aren’t better negotiators. The art of negotiations is finding solutions to problems and opportunities. Our politicians seem too concerned with getting re-elected and less interested in finding solutions to problems that will strengthen our country, not just “kicking the can down the road”.
Why can’t more people do a better job of negotiating? There must be a mutually beneficial solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. There must be a mutually beneficial solution to the Iranian nuclear weapons proliferation conflict. There must be a solution to the United States 17 Trillion Dollar debt problem. There must be a better solution to the health care problems in the United States than “Obamacare”. There must be an acceptable solution to the immigration problems. Why don’t our politicians have the will to negotiate and find solutions that are good for everyone? Solutions that are good for one side and not good for the other side are not successful negotiations. There can’t be a winner and a loser in a negotiation. A successful negotiation must lead to a good solution for both sides. That concept seems to have been lost in Washington. It is time to reset the philosophy and start finding solutions to our problems.