Jerrold M. Post: Moammar Kadafi's Inner 'I'
Jerrold M. Post is director of the political psychology program at George Washington University. He was founding director of the CIA's Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior and is the author of Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World and The Mind of the Terrorist.
In March, a few days after NATO planes began bombing Libya, Moammar Kadafi delivered a speech to the nation he had ruled for more than four decades.
"Great Libyan people," he began, "you are now living through glorious hours." In the speech, designed to rally Libyans with soaring rhetoric to stand against the rebellion and the foreign attacks, Kadafi ended with a promise. "We will defeat them by any means.... We are ready for the fight, whether it will be a short or a long one.... We will be victorious in the end."
The speech may well have been an attempt by Kadafi to emulate Winston Churchill's stirring World War II oratory during the London Blitz, when Britain endured 58 bombing raids designed to break the will of the British people. In a speech on June 18, 1940, Churchill exhorted his countrymen to "brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British empire and its commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'"
The charismatic British prime minister's powerful addresses to the nation were widely credited with maintaining national resolve and bracing the people during their darkest hour. In another speech, he spoke eloquently about the "many, many long months of struggle and suffering" ahead and vowed "to wage war with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalog of human crime."
However much Kadafi may have hoped to inspire his people as Churchill did, he had a problem that couldn't be overcome: his narcissism. Ultimately, the speech descended into characteristic Kadafi-speak — self-aggrandizing and written mostly in the first-person singular...
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