A psychiatrist says his "political psychology profile" of Saddam Hussein discloses that the Iraqi president "is at heart a survivor."
But Dr. Jerrold Post, professor of psychiatry, political psychology and international affairs at George Washington University, warned that Saddam "will only withdraw from Kuwait if he believes he can survive with his power and dignity intact."By the same token, Post said in a lecture at the university on "The Mind of Saddam Hussein," the Iraqi despot "will only reverse his present course if his power and reputation are threatened."
Post said it is crucial to demonstrate unequivocally to Saddam that unless he withdraws his forces from Kuwait, "his career as a world-class political actor will be ended."
"Considering himself a revolutionary pragmatist, Saddam is at heart a survivor," Post said. But the professor warned that if he does retreat, "this will only be a temporary deflection of his unbounded drive for power. It is a certainty that he will return at a later date, stronger than ever, unless firm measures are taken to contain him."
Characterizing Saddam as "mad" is dangerously inaccurate, warned Post, who described him as "a judicious political calculator who is by no means irrational, but is dangerous to the extreme."
Post said there is no evidence Saddam suffers from a psychotic disorder. If circumstances demonstrate to him that he has miscalculated, Post said, Saddam is capable of reversing his course.
In pursuing his goals, Post said, Saddam uses whatever force is necessary.
"It is this personality constellation - messianic ambition for unlimited power, absence of conscience, unconstrained aggression and a paranoid outlook - which make Saddam so dangerous," Post said.
Post said the Iraqi president will continue to cast the conflict as a "struggle between gladiators - Saddam Hussein vs. George Bush. When the struggle becomes thus personalized, it enhances Saddam's reputation as a courageous strongman willing to defy the imperialist United States."
Post said "defiant rhetoric has been a hallmark of this conflict and lends itself to misinterpretation across cultural boundaries."
He said Saddam's words often are chosen to demonstrate his courage and resolve to the Iraqi people and the Arab world.
"By the same token," Post added, "Saddam probably hears the Western words of President Bush through a Middle Eastern filter. When a statement of resolve and intent is made by President Bush in a public statement, Saddam may well discount the expressed intent to act."