On Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gaddafi and other Narcissistic Autocrats

By any objective analysis, Colonel Gaddafi is toast, but his official statements still forecast victory, as they have throughout each defeat of his troops over the past 6 months. One can’t help recalling Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister who relayed his boss’s increasingly ludicrous reports of success as the regime was rapidly being crushed.

There is a school of thought in politics and international relations which holds that all the bluster from dictators under pressure is propaganda, in the sense that the leaders themselves realize it’s untrue. They are just trying to demoralize their opponents and rally their friends by intentionally overstating how well things are going. In their hearts, autocrats know the jig is up and that means a window for a negotiated settlement with them has opened.

That school of thought is usually wrong.

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