Egotist Rex: Are a Dictator’s Defiant1 Statements Indicative of Self-Delusion2?
Quân vương Cao ngạo: Phải chăng những tuyên bố thách thức1 của một nhà độc tài là dấu hiệu của sự hoang tưởng tự đại2
For months Col. Muammar Qadhafi has resisted (chống lại) the popular rebellion (nổi dậy của quần chúng) in Libya, making (đưa ra) a series of strong (hùng hồn) and sometimes bizarre statements (phát biểu lạ lẫm; kỳ khôi) along the way (suốt mọi lúc)
OUT OF TOUCH (Tách rời thực tế):
The bizarre statements Col. Muammar Qadhafi has made in the past several months (trong nhiều tháng qua) may result from a self-imposed insulation from reality (tự-cô lập mình với thực tế) , rather than a delusional detachment (tách biệt có tính hoang tưởng) from it.
Six months after a civil uprising (=popular rebellion) began in Libya, Col. Muammar Qadhafi, the nation’s longtime leader, finally seems to have lost his grip on (mất khả năng kiểm soát) the country he ruled for more than 40 years. Did he also, at some point, lose his grip on reality?
As the conflict spread across Libya, Qadhafi made a number of bizarre statements to members of the media, denying that demonstrators were angry with the government and even claiming that (cho rằng) any conflict that might be unfolding (đang diễn ra) was the result of drinks spiked with hallucinogenic drugs. More recently he has pledged to defend the capital, Tripoli, even as rebel forces swept through the city with surprising swiftness.
Was Qadhafi deluded about the state of his nation or was he simply unwilling to accept that his time had come? To get some insight on the Libyan leader and other out-of-touch dictators, we spoke to Jerrold Post, a professor of psychiatry, political psychology and international affairs, and director of the Political Psychology Program at George Washington University. Post is a CIA veteran who has written psychological profiles of a number of world leaders.
[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]
What is it about leaders like Qadhafi that makes them unable to see or accept their own impending (đang lơ lững, sắp xảy ra/ imminent) downfall?
Leaders like this? I’m not sure there are other leaders like Qadhafi.
In terms of many of the autocratic dictators who went down (sụp đổ) with bewildering speed (tốc độ nhanh khó tin) in the Arab Spring, one of the reasons the public dismay (sự thất vọng của công chúng)—what then becomes revolutionary fervor—is so startling is they are really protected by this circle around them from understanding how their popularity is ebbing.
They can have a very unrealistic understanding and believe, as Qadhafi stated again and again, "My people, they all love me."
I found this language of his quite remarkable. And with Qadhafi as an exaggerated example, this is true of any of the other leaders, too—namely, they believe they have widespread support. If there are public demonstrations against them, that must reflect outside agitators. This was true with [ousted Egyptian president Hosni] Mubarak as well. He spoke of outside conspiracies.
But it is particularly true of Qadhafi. There is an interesting kind of almost syllogism for him: "My people all love me, and therefore if there is anyone protesting against me, they are not really my people, and that must be a consequence of outside provocation." And one of the points that he made early on was that this was crazed youth who were on hallucinogens with which their Nescafe had been laced, which I thought was rather creative, really.
I found Qadhafi’s language in general very striking. And what is most interesting about it is it is entirely in the first person singular: "My people all love me. They will support me. My people, they love me." It was very "me" centered. A vivid contrast—and this will seem like a ludicrous comparison—was Churchill during World War II . Churchill always spoke in first person plural, and his way of strengthening the morale of his people was to talk about "us," "our trials and tribulations," to identify with the people. It was a remarkable case of charismatic leadership. Qadhafi, in contrast, speaks only about himself. He identifies himself as the creator of Libya, and one of his early quotes said, "I created Libya, and I can destroy it."
Are Qadhafi and other deposed leaders deluded in thinking all is well in their kingdom or their country?
Deluded isn’t quite the word, because if you’re surrounded by a group of sycophants who tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear, you can be in touch with reality by psychological tests but quite out of touch with reality politically. With Saddam Hussein, this was particularly true—where to provide criticism of him was either to lose your job or lose your life. Everyone was constantly praising him and his brilliance, and he was spared wise council.
In addition to these circles of sycophants (giới bợ đỡ), is narcissism (tự mê đắm mình) a common trait (nét, distinguishing feature of your personal nature) among autocrats?
That is a wonderful question. I’m just putting the finishing touches on my capstone book, which will be called Dreams of Glory: Narcissism and Politics. I see narcissism as being a very powerful explanatory factor for many of these leaders, who display a number of traits of narcissism.
One is they have a really exalted self-concept on the surface, and are very sensitive to slight or any information to the contrary. So they can get very angry if someone questions them.
Secondly, when there is something that shatters that image—and this will be interesting to see what happens with Qadhafi—there can be what’s called a narcissistic rage. So, for example, with Saddam Hussein as he was exiting Kuwait, lighting the oil wells on fire—that was probably an example of that.
Their interpersonal relationships are very disturbed, and they surround themselves with people who make them feel good. So that it is really a great hazard to in any way criticize the leader.
Qadhafi did a great deal to hollow out the institutions of government, and while he said that he couldn’t give up his position because he had no position—which was literally true—he was appointed the eternal guide of the Libyan people, with no authority over them. But in fact, 20 percent of the people’s committees had counterintelligence responsibilities for sniffing out people plotting against him, who were always dealt with very harshly. Even when people fled Libya he would track them down, and he even made an assassination attempt of a Libyan exile living in the United States early on.
g . l . o . s . s
even: còn, thậm chí, ngay cả; /regardless of the situation, in defiance of it / in spite of that; notwithstanding the fact =bất chấp
spread across: spill over to
with bewildering speed: tốc độ nhanh khó tin, khó hiểu
vulgar gesture: cử chỉ thô tục, hành động khiếm nhã
The story goes that: chuyện kể rằng
sycophants: kẻ bợ đỡ kiếm lợi |word web pro> person who tries to please someone in order to gain a personal advantage|
enrollment: đăng ký /registration
register: tờ đăng ký, sổ ghi, sổ đăng bạ (?), thanh ghi, cửa điều hòa; máy tính tiền (cửa hàng)