SLUG: 3-188 Post-Terrorism
INTRO: Dr. Jerrold Post is the Director of the Political Psychology Program at The George Washington University here in Washington D.C. He has the unusual specialty of the psychological motivation of terrorists. Dr. Post was a guest on the VOA-TV program, "Campaign Against Terrorism," and spoke with David Borgida. He provides us with thought-provoking and very differing personality profiles of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
MR. BORGIDA: Now joining us, Dr. Jerrold Post, a psychiatrist and Professor of Political Psychology at George Washington University, here in Washington, D.C. Dr. Post is an expert on many of the world's infamous and famous men of the moment.
Let's talk a little bit about Saddam Hussein. What is the key to his power and control over the Iraqi people?
DR. POST: He has been compared often to Hitler. A much better comparison is to Stalin, whose works, indeed, he has studied and whose practices he has emulated. His favorite movie actually is "The Godfather," and it's almost a training manual for him.
I did a profile of Saddam, which I presented to Congress back at the time of the Gulf crisis, and I'm struck at both the consistency of his personality but also some of his growth and shifts since then. This is a man with an insatiable appetite for power, who has long wanted to be seen as belonging in the panoply of the world's great socialist leaders. And yet he did not achieve recognition until he invaded Kuwait. And then, with one guttural grunt from him, the price of oil jumped $20, the Dow Jones went down 150 points. He had the world by its throat. And really, Kuwait went off the screen very quickly, because now he was where he was finally supposed to be.
MR. BORGIDA: Do you fear that someone with that personality that you have described is looking for another opportunity to get international attention? Is that something that's part of the psychology?
DR. POST: He is continually striving for that. But I think it is important to emphasize his periodic provocations internationally are really designed to shore himself up domestically. He has been very threatened domestically. He has had a number of coup attempts. There is a great deal of discontent in the military. And episodically he will challenge the U.N., he will take off against the Kurds in the north, as a way of pulling together his people against the outside enemy.
MR. BORGIDA: This is a fascinating look at Saddam Hussein, but let's switch for a moment to another figure in the news. And of course that is Osama bin Laden, whom the United States and the anti-terrorist coalition forces have been looking for, for quite some time. Draw a profile, if you will, Dr. Post, of him for us.
DR. POST: It's really quite remarkable, the son of a multi-billionaire, who went on to become the world's number one terrorist. In contrast to Saddam, who rules by fear, this is a man who has a very powerful, charismatic hold on his followers, who are almost true believers and uncritically follow his lead. I think it is important to emphasize, this is not something new and surprising that occurred on September 11th. He first really achieved this powerful mix as destructive, charismatic leader with his followers in Afghanistan I, in expelling the Soviet Union.
This led to really an almost adulation of this man, who could have been leading an opulent life back in Saudi Arabia but instead was right in the caves with them, providing for hospitals and clinics and so forth. And they came to really almost adore him. And each successive triumph has been magnifying the righteousness of his cause. Because first we had the World Trade Center in 1993, the first time, then the Khobar Towers in 1996. In 1998, the twin embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania. In 2000, the USS Cole. And finally, the greatest terrorist spectacular of all times, 2001.
In each one of these, these couldn't have happened~-- how can you expel a superpower, bring another superpower to its knees -- it couldn't have happened unless Allah was on his side.
MR. BORGIDA: Let me quickly, in the last minute or so that we have left, ask you, if Osama bin Laden is found, can the al-Qaida network continue, flourish perhaps, without him?
DR. POST: Yes. In contrast to other charismatic terrorist leaders like Sendero Luminosa's Guzman, he, perhaps from his business training, has a flat organization. He has appointed a successor, al-Zawahri, of Egypt. He really should be thought of as chairman of the board of Terrorism International, who has grown his corporation through mergers and acquisitions. And if he goes, the reins will pass seamlessly onto others. The end of Osama is not the end of al-Qaida.
MR. BORGIDA: Very, very interesting. Dr. Jerrold Post, of George Washington University here in Washington, a Professor of Political Psychology. Thanks so much for your insight. That was very interesting.
DR. POST: My pleasure.
(End of interview.)
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|