The madman of the Middle East
“He [the madman] … explained the extremity of his actions as president … as necessary to achieve ‘subjective immunity’ against foreign plots and influences.
“[His] ideological rationalization for a lifelong pattern [is] all actions are justified if they are in the service of furthering [his] needs and ambitions.
“He [often] identifies himself with … Saladin who regained Jerusalem in 1187 by defeating the Crusaders.
“Commitments and loyalty are matters of circumstance and circumstances change. If an individual or a nation is perceived as an impediment or a threat, no matter how loyal in the past, that individual or nation [should] be eliminated … and the action will be justified by ‘the exceptionalism of revolutionary needs.’ Nothing must be permitted to stand in ‘the great struggler’s’ messianic path.
“[His] practice of revolutionary opportunism has another important characteristic. Just as previous commitments must not be permitted to stand in [his] messianic path, neither should one persist in a particular course of action if it proves to be counter-productive for him … When he pursues a course of action, he pursues it fully, and if he meets initial resistance, he will struggle all the harder, convinced of the correctness of his judgments. But if circumstances demonstrated that he miscalculated, he is capable of reversing his course. In these circumstances he does not acknowledge he has erred…
“While he is psychologically in touch with reality, he is often politically out of touch with reality. [His] worldview is narrow and distorted …
“He is surrounded by sycophants, who are … afraid to contradict him. He has ruthlessly eliminated perceived threats to his power and equates criticism with disloyalty.
“He is deprived of the check of wise counsel from his leadership circle. This combination of limited international perspective and a sycophantic leadership circle has led him to miscalculate…
“[His] pursuit of power for himself and [his country] is boundless. In fact, in his mind, [his and his country’s] destiny are one and indistinguishable.
“In pursuit of his messianic dreams, there is no evidence he is constrained by conscience; his only loyalty is to [himself]. In pursuing his goals, [he] uses aggression instrumentally.
“His unconstrained aggression is instrumental in pursuing his goals, but it is, at the same time, defensive aggression, for his grandiose façade masks underlying insecurity. While [he] is not psychotic, he has a strong paranoid orientation. He is ready for retaliation and, not without reason, sees himself as surrounded by enemies. But he ignores his role in creating those enemies and righteously threatens his targets. The conspiracy theories he spins are not merely for popular consumption … but genuinely reflect his paranoid mindset … He is convinced that the United States, Israel [and others] have been in league for the purpose of eliminating him.
“Conceptualized as malignant narcissism, this is the personality configuration of the destructive charismatic who unifies and rallies his downtrodden supporters by blaming outside enemies.
“This psychological stance is the basis of [his] particular appeal to the Palestinians who see him as a strongman who shares their intense anti-Zionism and will champion their cause.
“[He] sees himself as transforming his society. He believes youth must be ‘fashioned’ to ‘safeguard the future’ … As God-like status was ascribed to Mao and giant pictures and statues of him were placed throughout China, so too giant pictures … of [him] abound in [his country].
“He probably overreads the degree of his support in the rest of the Arab world. He psychologically assumes that many in the Arab world, especially the downtrodden, share his views and see him as their hero.”
An impressive analysis/portrayal of a dangerous leader. But a quick note to the reader or an angry prosecutor who, by now, could be blushing in impatience to write up a nice indictment: Weary of the absurdities of pre-election Turkish politics, your columnist, upon recommendation from a dear friend, read pages on recent history and found this analysis by Dr. Jerrold M. Post, which was presented to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, entitled “Explaining Saddam Hussein: a Psychological Profile,” written in December 1990.
Of course, any resemblance to any living politician is purely coincidental.