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Interview with Dr. Jerrold Post - 2003-03-23


MR. BORGIDA:
Now, here to discuss Saddam, Dr. Jerrold Post, a psychiatrist and the Director of the Political Psychology Program at Washington, D.C.'s George Washington University. Dr. Post is also the author of a new book, "The Psychological Assessment of Political Leaders."

It's been a busy time for you, Dr. Post.

DR. POST:
It certainly has.

MR. BORGIDA:
You're in demand, and we are delighted to see you here with us on a special Saturday edition of Newsline.

Just jump in. What do you think is going on with Saddam? You've followed him and you have studied him. Has he gone underground, as it were? Are you a believer in the speculation that perhaps he was injured in this strike? What's your thought?

DR. POST:
I think he may well have been injured -- and there were reports of someone being carried out on a gurney -- because there is an apparent lack of preparation for a defense. I would have expected by now he would have lashed out, as he does when he is backed into a corner, with weapons of mass destruction. Those are under his immediate control. And this is an extremely leader-dominant society. And if the leader is wounded, or dead, this is going to lead to a rapid dissolution of the power structure. Because most of the senior generals and other military below the very core level are only there because of fear and intimidation.

MR. BORGIDA:
Good point, and I want to follow up on that. If he is under stress or perhaps wounded, does he then act more irrationally, unpredictably, or will he act differently than what one might expect?

DR. POST:
Well, under stress, I think we can predict he will order the use of chem/bio weapons against alliance forces in the field, if he has the delivery systems, against Israel and, I've been predicting for some time, which he has already done to a degree, that he would set afire Iraqi oilfields -- "If I can't have them, nobody will." But will they follow those orders?

There has been a concerted U.S. policy to split him from his senior generals. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said last fall, the generals have a major role to play in the reconstruction of Iraq but, of course, if they get involved with weapons of mass destruction, all bets are off. President Bush said, if he orders this, [the use of] these weapons, his generals would be well advised to disobey.

And having this decapitation attack is also a clear message to the underside of his structure: Our goal is to take out the leadership; you're all right. In fact, gentlemen, we would very much appreciate you're doing something to help us in that endeavor.

MR. BORGIDA:
Now, you're talking about the leadership and those around him. In the couple of minutes or so that we have left in the segment, he obviously surrounds himself with family. His sons are very important to him. Talk about that relationship with his sons and how important they are to him.

DR. POST:
Well, initially, he had nominated his eldest son, Uday, who is really a wild man, to succeed him, and subsequently has shifted that to Qusay, both because Uday's role in the really notorious Hussein Kamal defection with the secrets of the regime, but also he's really been quite disappointed in him. They are both chips off the old block. Both use violence in an untrammeled way. Indeed, my motto for this family is: The family that slays together stays together.

And I, however, don't see either of them as having kind of the gravitas, the commanding presence, that would be able to sustain the leadership after he goes.

MR. BORGIDA:
Dr. Jerrold Post, psychiatrist, Director of the Political Psychology Program at George Washington University. Dr. Post, we've had you on the program before, thanks for being on again. And we look forward to having you on more often.

DR. POST:
My great pleasure.

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