Natalia J. Garland
How can the average American know if any war is progressing toward
victory? How do we measure progress or evaluate legitimacy? By
the number of American soldiers killed? By the length of time or
amount of money spent? By whether or not the world approves?
We can start any
political evaluation by being skeptical of narcissistic
authoritarians, of news reports that omit pertinent information,
and of conclusions drawn too soon. In other words, check the
facts, use several news sources, compare and contrast different
points of view, find news analysts who are fair and insightful,
and exercise critical thinking. As a personal aid, I developed
my own lists to guide me toward truth.
My first list offers
a few ways to detect political narcissists:
They will not answer a direct yes-or-no question with a simple
yes or no.
They will not answer a question with a precise declarative
They prefer to deflect questions and indulge in talk about
themselves or topics unrelated to specific questions.
They attend activities and ceremonies where T.V. cameras are
Their advocacy for the oppressed is often reserved for situations
where T.V. cameras are present.
They blame America.
They are reactive (jealousy, rage) rather than proactive (leading
by example, opening up discussion).
They hold others accountable to high standards, but feel they
can break all the rules.
They expect mainstream leaders to apologize for all the ills of
America, but themselves cannot admit to error and sincerely
Their grandiosity is often expressed through false martyrdom.
My second list
describes what citizens can do to help win the war on terrorism:
Gain an understanding of military strategy and the history of
American military success and failure.
Find out if the military has adequate equipment and training to do
Understand the difference between military interrogation
techniques and torture.
Understand the history and politics of any other country where
America is militarily involved.
Predict the benefits and limitations of diplomacy and dialogue,
based on study of past outcomes.
Understand that successful negotiation must be backed by American
government/military power and by the will of the people.
Understand the concepts of good and evil.
Detect narcissistic personalities and how they may influence
political alignments and decisions among leaders and citizens.
Discern which narcissists have real talent or competence, and
which are severely dysfunctional.
Do not be afraid to be politically incorrect.
Do not be afraid to align with the 'establishment' if that is
where your conclusions take you.
Beware of propaganda.
Beware of partisanship.
Without the above
information and skills, we cannot vote wisely or hold public
officials accountable. The process is similar to getting good
medical care. How many competent doctors have you known? Have
you gone to different doctors before finding one who could
diagnose you correctly and prescribe appropriate medication or
treatment? Have you done your own research on medical conditions
because you do not have complete confidence in your doctor's
evaluation? Have you turned to 'alternative health' options
because traditional Western medical professionals have failed or
Unfortunately, it is
essential to apply the same fact-finding processes to political
and military actions. It is an enormously difficult task, but
essential because the future of a free and safe society depends
My third list
attempts to clarify some of the complications which have caused
the Iraq War to continue long after the fall of Saddam's statue.
Government incompetence or inadequacy (both American and Iraqi),
including the lack of or withdrawal of support from other
countries (such as Spain after the Madrid train-bombing).
American military strategical errors.
Inexperience in confronting terroristic warfare.
The insurgent bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, which some
experts regard as the turning point toward defeat of democracy.
The apparent military and technological involvement of Iran with
Inadequate attention given to America's war on drugs.
Afghanistan has resumed the growing and selling of opium, and the
profits help to fund local terrorist groups.
Biased or false media coverage which has a negative impact on
American opinion and support. Skewed media coverage (i.e.,
propaganda) makes it difficult for the average citizen to
evaluate military and government actions, and seems to reward
narcissistic authoritarians with undeserved attention.
Good news from Iraq which goes unreported or under-reported.
Narcissistic personalities which have used an anti-war stance to
inflate their own sense of self-importance and to vent rage.
Finally, my fourth
list consists of questions which I ask myself when trying to form
my own judgments.
- Is Iraq a better
country after the removal of Saddam?
Does Iraq, even with the impact of current warfare, have greater
possibility of a better future than it would have had under Saddam?
Why has there not been a terrorist attack on America since 9/11?
Opinion: The Iraq War was wrong.
Possibility: America wins and democracy is secured.
Question: Was the Iraq War still wrong?
Opinion: The Iraq War was right.
Possibility: America loses and terrorists take over.
Question: Was the Iraq War still right?
What is America's moral responsibility in Iraq?
Should the military draft be revived?
Why were there not any American protest marches when Nick Berg
was beheaded by Islamic extremists?
Why were there not any American protest marches when the Baptist
missionaries were killed by Islamic extremists?
What do the anti-war protestors want? And what are their
Why do the anti-war protestors believe the Iraq War has been lost?
Why do American soldiers believe the Iraq War can be won?
Would the anti-war protestors sign a loyalty oath to America?
Are the anti-war protestors representative of the people, or are
they a political narcissistic elite which has bewitched average
Is Authoritarian Narcissism the new political movement in America,
in succession to Neo-Conservativism?
be directly blamed for terrorism or for any failure in Iraq. Only
the Islamic extremists are responsible for violent jihad against
America. Only the Commander-in-Chief is responsible for managing
the personnel and strategy of the Iraq War. Only American citizens
are responsible for voting leaders into and out of office. There
are, nonetheless, other factors which we must uncover and analyze.
The phenomenon of political narcissism is a dangerous variable that
will present itself in the 2008 presidential election. Political
narcissists are capable of influencing elections in ways that
could be personally self-inflating but nationally self-destructive.
three-part essay is a study in progress, not a finished product,
and is therefore subject to error. Some of the ideas expressed are
based on personal observation and opinion, and are not intended to
carry official diagnostic value.]
(Written 04/16/07: bibliography available.)
Until we meet