The Mind of a Dictator
What do all dictators have in common? They lack empathy. Empathy is the one trait of a human being that assures that a person cares about the feelings of another. Dictators can be ruthless and merciless, because they don’t “feel”. Shutting down their empathic emotions makes it possible for them to ignore the consequences of their policies and acts.
It is also their weakness. A massive uprising is usually a surprise for them, because they have no clue about what’s going on among the citizens of the country they have hijacked. They are not prepared for a massive protest that takes over the streets and government institutions.
A large manifestation of discontent, guided by the empathy of hundreds of thousands of people for their shared beliefs and goals, then proves to be more powerful than the merciless emotional deafness of a dictator. He may not hear the shouts, but he will feel them, as soon as the crowds gather and know that when they are united, a dictator can’t stop them.
Nevertheless, there are different types of dictators. We know now that Al-Gaddafi is ruthless and keen on using extreme violence. His tactics of African mercenaries show that the military is his supposed solution to stem the unrest. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s speech was a clear example of how selfish and egocentric arguments (oil, money, predicting so-called chaos) were used to try to persuade citizens to stop protesting. The Libyan people know better. Their empathic manifestation has grown to strong to ignore it any longer. The primary cause, apart from being fueled and activated by the events in Tunisia and Egypt, is indeed about the economy, jobs, corruption, but the underlying problem is the regime itself. The citizens know this.
Khamenei’s and Ahmadinejad’s modus operandi are using morale. By using protesters in favour of the government, they hope to create the impression on the opposition that their cause might not be as shared as they thought it would be. But the Iranian people are used to their lies and the Iranian people know very well that the government uses these tactics, among others security forces as civilians, to try to stop the threats.
This is why Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt, Iran is not Tunisia or Egypt, Bahrain is not Tunisia or Egypt, and so on. They need a different approach if the protesters hope to topple their government. Making good use of the common trait of lack of empathy, the road to a solution may be on the same crossroads: to surprise them. To show them what they have ignored for so long: the massive discontent and injustice they have caused for so long.