Saad Hariri: Like Father, Like Son

Amer Chehade

February 14, 2005 was unlike any other Valentine’s Day, witnessing the killing of Rafiq Hariri, twice Prime Minister of Lebanon, and also a business tycoon with global political and economical ties

After his father’s assassination, Saad Hariri,was chosen by the family to be his heir, heading his political movement and hence, becoming a key player in the Lebanese political arena while maintaining his business leadership responsibilities within the family interests such as Oger

Despite his limited experience in politics, Saad Hariri, was able to gain and maintain acceptance and respect from national and international co-players. Today [May 2010] he remains Prime Minister of Lebanon with a parliamentary majority.

He continues to manage and influence family business on a part-time basis while occupying the Prime Minister’s post having to keep up with political changes and challenges, even among allies, while tailoring trust in his dealings with rival leaders.

A tough start

Saad Hariri’s political start, though backed by the heavy inheritance of his father, confronted the obstacles of the creation of UN special tribunal set up after his father’s assassination, and political upheavals that marked the period of the 2006 Israeli war and the internal security conflict of May7, 2007. Saad Hariri has passed through these several minefields successfully and now is facing further military and economic challenges.

He has promised to fight corruption, applying Paris III conference aid prerequisites. His cabinet (National unity government) is thinking of raising the State’s income (more taxes/VAT) thus earning further criticisms on economic and political grounds. In some ways he faces a re-run of challenges faced by his father.

Leadership in the genes?

It might be argued that Saad supports the theory of leadership arising from genetic factors (‘born to lead’). It is correct that he is a billionaire ($4.1B), son of a billionaire, a Lebanese leader whose wealth is managed abroad and whose background enabled his political career to flourish quickly.

Saad Hariri is showing, day by day, that, if some of his father’s traits are not inherited genetically, some others are cloned and raised identically. This is evidence that his followers were anxious for a continuance of the leadership style of Rafic Hariri and his political skills at network building with others, even his adversaries. Saad is following the steps of his father by normalizing relations and meeting with rival leaders, always talking peacefully for the good of the country, and the “common interests of the nation”. The son may disagree with many other politicians but like his father has never been caught insulting or gossiping about them. This is evident also in his speeches.

History repeating itself?

Saad Hariri, a few months in the post as PM, and five years as head of Future political movement, is catching up the trails of his father, a proof of and a prerequisite of political resilience against counterparts. Saad Hariri cannot but continue the trail of his father yet has to face his father’s challenges. The pattern of “history repeats itself” and the resemblance of the Son’s trail to his Father’s, make anyone guess that the Son can best reach his Father’s level, as Lebanon faces a simple yet complex formula: The saying is that Lebanon is not allowed to die, yet Lebanon is not allowed to live. This conclusion (and saying) has made me, like many others, seek a better future abroad. It has produced a Diaspora, which included Rafic and Saad Hariri. However, both returned to Lebanon to serve their people and country, I hope I will have my chance some day.

The riskiest dilemma is that Saad Hariri, the Son, to strengthen leadership, his has no choice but to follow the trail of his Father so that he perfectly reflects the saying “like father, like son”. Nevertheless, I hope that he contradicts his father’s trail by at least one of his steps, his very last step…that of February 14, 2005.


This post was developed from an assignment set within the Manchester Business School Worldwide MBA Program. The views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of other parties including MBSW, and Leaders We Deserve.

9 Responses to Saad Hariri: Like Father, Like Son

  1. Tudor,

    This is pure propaganda – not analysis!


  2. Tudor says:

    Dear Jeff

    The post expresses a perspective and I rather thought it might invite other perspectives. So far, all has been quiet on that front. I also thought it indicated special leadership skills needed under tough circumstances.

    I suppose it could be argued that rejection of a text as ‘pure propaganda’ calls out for some analysis too…

    best wishes

  3. Tudor,

    My rejection is based on the fact that this “leader” is presented as almost perfect.

    In my book, “Dictatorial CEOs and their Lieutenants” I covered many of the positive attributes of, for example, Hitler and Stalin. It is only by recognising both their good and bad attributes that they — and their leadership — can be understood.

    Similarly, I have enourmous overall respect for Barack Obama — but I still think that his significant flaws as a leader (much of it to do with his youthfulness and lack of experience) should be recognised.

    Saad Hariri, in this hagiography, has no flaws. Such an approach is not conducive to balanced study of him or his leadership.


  4. Tudor says:

    Thanks Jeff,

    A balanced approach is appropriate for biography. It will be useful for me to point more clearly to students the benefits of weighing up strengths and potential weaknesses in a bioggraphic post. This is the practice in writing a bio for wikipedia.

    It must be said that without such guidance most of us find a balanced view is difficult to achieve. Jeff’s own reaction to the post could arguably have been couched in more balanced terms to explore whether lack of balance equates with ‘pure’ hagiography …

  5. Tudor,

    I accept that my language was somewhat strong.


  6. Tudor,

    This is from my book on the need of people for a hero:

    All CEOs benefit from the need of people to believe in someone who can take care of unfamiliar or scary issues, leaving them to get on with their daily lives and work. Sometimes belief in a mystical God fulfils this need, but often – and sometimes concurrently – this need is fulfilled by ‘a Man’: some individual who is perceived to be so special and unique that religious terminology is often used in reference to him.

    While a CEO can achieve and maintain dictatorial power without being ‘the Man’, that power will be precarious because of its narrow base of discipline and reward – that is, a narrow base of ‘interest and fear’. Being ‘the Man’ adds emotion to the support base of the dictatorial CEO: what people want to believe and what they hope for blinds them to many realities, and often wilfully so; they became gullible, often to an extreme degree. What would otherwise be seen as good, is seen as very good; what would otherwise be seen as very bad, is seen as merely bad; logical connections between issues and events are dismissed in favour of more emotional responses; and the alternatives to the dictatorial CEO are regarded with excessive concern.

    Those people – in a country, or in any other organisation – who believe in ‘the Man’ provide not only a powerful general support base, but the well from which the successful dictatorial CEO draws many of his lieutenants.

    As Mussolini put it, “people do not want to rule, but to be ruled and to be left in peace”. This is what attracted Speer to Hitler and the Nazi party in the early 1930s: “My inclination to be relieved of having to think, particularly about unpleasant facts … In this I did not differ from millions of others.”

    Aspiring and actual dictatorial CEOs exploit these desires. They know, as Hitler said, that “the masses need an idol”, and they encourage and promote this idea. In 1937, when Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana, had a birthday and wanted to take a ride on the new Moscow Metro, Stalin – who rarely made public appearances – decided to join the group in a special train. The passengers going to and from the other trains noticed Stalin and gave him ovations. One of Stalin’s group later described his reaction: “He sort of said about the ovations given to him: the people need a tsar; that is, a person to whom they can bow low and in whose name they can live and work.”

    As use of the term “a Tsar” suggests, ‘the Man’ is only one of several terms that can be used to convey the same sentiment; others, as we shall see, include “Tribune” and “God” himself.

    Aspiring and actual dictatorial CEOs also know that this desire for someone special who can ‘rule’ and deal with ‘unpleasant facts’ – particularly in times of organisational stress – is so strong that a blind eye will often be turned to concerns about methods. As editor of the newspaper Popolo d’Italia in 1917, Mussolini wrote that Italy needed ‘a Man’:

    “A man who has when needed the delicate touch of an artist and the heavy hand of a warrior. A man who is sensitive and full of will-power. A man who knows and loves people, and who can direct and bend them with violence if required.” (

    In any group of people there will be many possible candidates for the position of dictatorial CEO. Getting to the top means competing with others, so the aspiring dictatorial CEO needs to standout. While superior ability is of upmost importance, there is also the luck of the draw of events – of the times! The more difficult the times, the more ‘unpleasant’ the ‘facts’, the greater the general desire for ‘a Man’, and the greater the opportunities for all aspiring dictatorial CEOs. To win – and become ‘the Man’ – candidates need to possess talents that suit the times; or, at the very least they have to convince others that they do!

    A decade before he obtained dictatorial power, Hitler was matching his talents with the times. The First World War had ended with Germany signing the punitive Treaty of Versailles. Not only was it financially harsh, but it excoriated Germany with words that deeply offended national pride. Hitler tapped into this. After Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s first secretary, heard Hitler speak, he was excited: “A man – I’ve heard a man, he’s unknown, I’ve forgotten his name. But if anyone can free us from Versailles, then it’s this man. This unknown man will restore our honour!” (6) Hans Frank, a Nazi lawyer and later Governor-General of Poland, described what he thought was “the secret of Hitler’s power”:

    “He stood up and pounded his fist, and shouted, ‘I am the Man!’ – and he shouted about his strength and determination – and so the public surrendered to him with hysterical enthusiasm.”

    Following the end of the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was in a chaotic state as it was carved up by the victorious allies. While Turkey did not yet officially exist, General Mustapha Kemal (who later became Ataturk) thought, after years of frustrated ambition, that he was now ‘the Man’ for the times and assiduously promoted himself as such. In 1919 he made a speech quoting a well-known couplet of an Ottoman poet, Namik Kemal:

    “The enemy has pressed his dagger to the breast of the motherland.
    Will no one arise to save his mother from her black fate?”

    He then added a reference to himself:

    “Another Kemal has now sprung from the nation’s breast
    Even if the enemy presses his dagger to the breast of the motherland,
    A man will be found to save the mother from her black fate.”

    The aspiring dictatorial CEO must also navigate one particular trap: while it is acceptable – or even desirable – to self-promote as ‘the Man’, it is rarely desirable to self-promote as a ‘dictator’. While most people want ‘a Man’ to take charge, they do so for selfish reasons and want any necessary ‘violence’ is to be directed against others; they do not want anyone dictating to them.

    Josef Goebbels, the future propaganda minister, wrote in his diary after meeting Hitler for the second time in 1925: “This man has everything it takes to be king. The born tribune of the people. The coming dictator.” In the middle of the following year Goebbels was recording his view that Hitler was “the natural creative instrument of a divine fate”. But Goebbels did not expect to be dictated to. He expected that ‘the Man’ would dictate the Goebbels and Hitler view – which Goebbels believed to be one and the same – to others. Some of Hitler’s power would become available to his lieutenants; and Goebbels was prepared to caste aside his doubts – and to be servile – to get a big slice of it.

    Most potential and actual lieutenants are, initially at least, somewhat idealistic and naïve; even Goebbels was in for a few surprises. In part they see in ‘the Man’ what they want to see, and believe what they want to believe. Theophile Berlier – latter to be one of Napoleon’s lieutenants – and many other Frenchmen were tired after a decade of revolution and war, and sought ‘a Man’ to bring stability. Berlier latter recalled that at the time he believed the undoubtedly strong Napoleon to be “the man sent by providence to consolidate our republican institutions and make them respected in all of Europe”.

    Napoleon, as First Consul, had other ideas. His problem was how to get past people like Berlier and progress from being ‘the Man’ guarding “republican institutions” to become the ‘the Man’ who was also dictatorial CEO – in this case, as the founder of an anything but republican hereditary monarchy.

    Many years later Mao faced a similar problem in China. Dr Li wrote that Mao “wanted a cult of personality” – to become ‘the Man’ – so that he could “stay at the top”. However, he did not want to be accused of “fostering his own cult”, and so “needed the illusion that the demand for his leadership came spontaneously from the masses themselves”.

    Napoleon tried to create such an “illusion” in 1800. With his brother, Lucian, Minister of the Interior, he engineered the publication of an anonymous but well-circulated pamphlet entitled “A Parallel among Caesar, Cromwell, Monck and Bonaparte”. The pamphlet said:

    “Our revolution had given birth to greater events than it managed to give rise to men to contain them … The Revolution seemed pushed by who-knows-what blind force that both created and overturned everything. For ten years, we had sought a strong and knowing hand that could stop it, yet at the same time preserve it … This person has appeared. … Bonaparte, like Caesar, is one of these dominating characters before whom all obstacles and all will subside; their inspiration seems so supernatural that, in classical times, one would have considered them as living under the protection of a genie, or a god.”

    When it became apparent that this attempt to create an “illusion” was back-firing – as already noted, the aspiring dictatorial CEO must avoid giving the impression that this is what he is actually after – Napoleon attempted to deny responsibility for the pamphlet. Bourrienne (who often referred to Napoleon as General or as Bonaparte), later gave an account of an in-character Napoleon:

    “After reading it I laid it on the table. In a few minutes Bonaparte entered, and taking up the pamphlet pretended to look through it:
    ‘Have you read this?’ said he.
    ‘Yes, General.’
    ‘Well! What is your opinion of it?’
    ‘I think it is calculated to produce an unfavourable effect on the public mind: it is ill-timed, for it prematurely reveals your views.’
    The First Consul took the pamphlet and threw it on the ground. … I was not singular in my opinion of the pamphlet, for next day the prefects in the immediate neighbourhood of Paris sent a copy of it to the First Consul, complaining of its mischievous effect. … After reading this correspondence he said to me:
    ‘Bourrienne, send for Fouche (the Minister of Police); he must come directly, and give an account of this matter.’
    In half an hour Fouche was in the First Consul’s cabinet (office). No sooner had he entered than the following dialogue took place, in which the impetuous warmth (anger) of the one party was strangely contrasted with the phlegmatic and rather sardonic composure of the other.
    ‘What pamphlet is this? What is said about it in Paris?’
    ‘General, there is but one opinion of its dangerous tendency.’
    ‘Well, then, why did you allow it to appear?’
    ‘General, I was obliged to show some consideration for the author!’
    Consideration for the author! What do you mean? You should have sent him to the Temple (a prison in Paris).’
    ‘But, General, your brother Lucien patronises this pamphlet. It has been printed and published by his order. In short, it comes from the office of the Minister of the Interior.’
    ‘No matter for that! Your duty as Minister of Police was to have arrested Lucien, and sent him to the Temple. The fool does nothing but contrive how he can commit me!’
    With these words the First Consul left the cabinet, shutting the door violently behind him. Being now alone with Fouche, I was eager to get an explanation of the suppressed smile which had more than once curled his lips during Bonaparte’s angry expostulation. I easily perceived that there was something in reserve.
    ‘Send the author to the Temple!’ said Fouche. ‘That would be no easy matter! Alarmed at the effect which this parallel between Caesar, Cromwell, and Bonaparte was likely to produce, I went to Lucien to point out to him his imprudence. He made me no answer, but went and got a manuscript, which he showed me, and which contained corrections and annotations in the First Consul’s handwriting.’
    When Lucien heard how Bonaparte had expressed his displeasure at the pamphlet, he also came to the Tuileries to reproach his brother with having thrust him forward and then abandoned him.
    ‘Tis your own fault,’ said the First Consul. ‘You have allowed yourself to be caught! So much the worse for you! Fouche is too cunning for you! You are a mere fool compared with him!’”

    Most lieutenants who get to work closely with the dictatorial CEO will find that any views about ‘a Man’ will eventually give way to more realistic view of a ‘human being’ to be admired and obeyed – although many eventually move on to know full well the meaning of the phrase ‘familiarity breads contempt’. In the mid-1930s, Khrushchev became a senior official in Moscow. He later recalled:

    “At first it was strange to hear Stalin make light conversation at the dinner table. Worshiping him as I did, I couldn’t get used to being with him in relaxed surroundings: here was a man not of this world, laughing and joking like the rest of us! After a while I began to admire him not only as a political leader who had no equal, but simply as another human being.”

    Sergo Beria wrote that his father, Lavrenti Beria (Stalin’s sometime secret police chief and overseer of the project to develop the atomic bomb), “and other ministers that I met had all undergone the same process of evolution regarding Stalin. They had gone through a phase in which they worshipped him madly. Stalin had held them under his charm for a certain time. Gradually, however, they became aware that he was using them before rejecting them with cynicism, depending on the aims that he was pursuing at the time. Love did not necessarily turn into hate. Vannikov (one of Beria’s lieutenants in the A-bomb project), for instance, continued to admire him. ‘Why does he put this uncommon intelligence of his at the service of a diabolical policy?’ he wondered.” Speer wrote that eventually his close association with Hitler “reduced him from the demigod Goebbels had made of him to a human being with all ordinary needs and weaknesses, although his authority remained intact”.

    Yet, for some lieutenants the faith in ‘the Man’ – or “a God” – is very enduring. Mussolini had assumed dictatorial powers in 1925. Over a decade later, announcing Italy’s victory in the invasion of Ethiopia, he was still able to elicit the remark from someone: “He’s like a God.” To which Achille Starace, a long-time senior lieutenant, replied: “He is a God.” (19) In 1937, after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had been dictatorial CEO for over a decade, one of his loyal lieutenants spoke in the National Assembly about a contentious issue:

    “Words and anxieties like ‘That side, this side…’ should be refrained from. Our direction of worship is the same. And that is Ataturk.”

  7. And on how the need for a hero is exploited:

    The dictatorial CEO is conscious of the need to maintain the image of the indispensable ‘the Man’. The dictatorial CEO also wants to be to be closely associated with good news, thoughts and emotions – and he wants to ensure that he projects strength and sense of purpose. While his public relations efforts are working and his image is good, he is secure in the job; unless, of course, he eventually over-reaches as did Napoleon, Hitler and Mussolini.

    The most effective strategy for the dictatorial CEO is to make his name synonymous with that of the welfare – even survival – of the organisation. As his brother, Joseph, wrote, Napoleon

    “… wants the need for his existence to be so direly felt, and as such a great boon, that anybody would recoil at any other possibility … If anybody could say all was well with the country if Bonaparte dies, that things would still be well, then my brother would no longer feel safe.”

    General Caulaincourt, like many Frenchmen, believed that Napoleon succeeded, writing that: “France and Emperor were blended in glory which had become common to both.” (22) Stalin also believed that he had succeeded in creation a sort of symbiosis between the organisation and the image of himself. When he rebuked his son for exploiting his name, his son protested that he was a “Stalin too”. Stalin replied: “No, you’re not. You’re not Stalin and I’m not Stalin. Stalin is Soviet power. Stalin is what he is in the newspapers and the portraits, not you, no not even me!”

    The dictatorial CEO will not hesitate when given the chance to emphasis his importance to the organisation. In 1925, Kemal Ataturk, now the dictatorial CEO, was unhappy with the actions of one of his lieutenants and took the opportunity to remind everyone who he was and why he was important, saying: “The nation has to be led by the hand. The man who has begun the revolution will also complete it.” (24) Stalin even got his importance recognised in the national anthem, making hand written changes to drafts, so that it eventually read:

    “Stalin has raised us in loyalty to the people,
    To labour and to heroic feats he has inspired us.”

    Part of being seen as essential to an organisation is to minimise the importance of others. Bourreinne, who was sacked as Napoleon’s secretary in 1802, claimed that Napoleon said to him in 1804: “Bourrienne, I sometimes think of recalling you; but as there is no good pretext for so doing, the world would say that I have need of you, and I wish it to be known that I stand in need of nobody.” Mussolini told one of his senior lieutenants who was in the habit of publicly expressing his own views: “Either no one speaks, or I speak, because I know how to speak better than anyone else.” And, when General Koniev received several favourable mentions in Soviet newspapers during the first week of the German invasion of Russia in 1941, Stalin rang the editor and told him: “You’ve printed enough on Koniev.”

    When the news is bad, however, the dictatorial CEO knows how to minimise his own responsibility. Khrushchev recalled the situation during the first part of the war when the Soviet armies were in retreat: “Stalin’s signature name never appeared on a single document or order. ‘High Command’, ‘General Staff’, or some other term was used, but never his name.” Admiral Kuznetsov recalled that while Stalin had become Supreme Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces on 8 August, 1940, “not many people knew”. “It was only after victories at the front that Stalin began to be called Supreme Commander in Chief in the communiqués published in the press.” And, naturally, at the eventual victory parade in Moscow in June, 1945, “all successes and victories were attributed to him alone”.

    Bourreinne noted that Napoleon worked hard to promote the image that Joseph – as we saw earlier – said he wanted; he made sure “to depreciate the reputations of his military commanders, and to throw on their shoulders faults which he had committed himself”. He wrote news “bulletins from the battle fields and his campaigns to be published in the ‘Moniteur’ newspaper. These bulletins always announced what Bonaparte wished to be believed true.” Normally, “there was falsity in the exaggerated descriptions of his victories, and falsity again in the suppression or palliation of his reverses and losses”.

    Mussolini was even more audacious than Napoleon. Several months after joining the war on the side of Germany, Italy invaded Greece via Albania, but its army was soon repelled. By March 1941, Italy had strengthened its forces in Albania and Mussolini went there expecting to take charge of a victorious march into Greece – but the Greeks held on. After three weeks of sitting around, Mussolini returned to Rome putting out the startling story that he had been commanding the “greatest and most bloody battle in modern history”.

    History – or at least history as they see it – is important to dictatorial CEOs. In October, 1927, Mustafa Kemal spent six days giving a single speech (the “Nutak”) to a Congress of his monopoly Republican People’s Party which gave his view of how he had founded the Turkish state. While he had indeed been the leader in its creation, he could not but help but denigrate the roles of others. As he put it:

    “Writing history is just as important as making history. The reality is that humankind will be confused if he who writes does not remain loyal to he who makes history.”

    A British diplomat recorded that, in addition to National Assembly deputies, the Congress included

    “… two hundred other members of the party, gathered from every part of Turkey, whose role it will be to return to their districts and there to expound to each village and township the doctrines they have learnt at the capital. From the mouth of the great Leader of the party, Gazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha himself, it was, therefore, thought polite to allow them to hear the history of the Nationalist movement from its very inception, so that Turkey’s sons and daughters might, in their turn, learn their history from the desired angle. That it was thought necessary to instruct them in the greatest detail is an interesting proof both of Turkey’s illiteracy – which makes it essential to pass on facts by word of mouth – and the Gazi’s desire to have at his back at the present time the added prestige that his recital of the epic of New Turkey must surely bring to the creator and directing hand of the entire movement. With characteristic energy, the Gazi has not spared himself six or more continuous days of reading for seven, eight, or even nine hours a day, from a carefully prepared manuscript. … The opening words of the President’s oration were characteristic of the tone of the whole: “On the nineteenth of May 1919, I landed at Samsoun …” … The great Turk is instructing his faithful disciples, who in turn are to go out to the highways and byways to spread the good news of Turkey’s resurrection and thereby to make the villager, shopkeeper and landowner appreciate the debt he owes to the Gazi and to the People’s party.”

    By beginning with “I landed …”, Mustafa Kemal equated himself with Turkey; only he could be ‘the Man’! He eventually went further than this: given the single name of Mustafa at birth, with Kemal acquired along the way, Mustafa Kemal later decided that all Turks should have a surname and in 1934 designated himself “Father Turk” – that is, “Ataturk”.

    Napoleon cleverly used one of his bulletins to counter any views that he was no longer ‘the Man’. In “Bulletin 29”, which is also known as “the terrible bulletin”, Napoleon described the reverses suffered by the Grand Army in Russia in 1812 and exaggerated the dangers to himself in an effort to promote fear. He was still following the strategy described by Joseph, but this time he truly wanted “the need for his existence” to be “direly felt”. Then, when he returned to Paris, people — he hoped — would see the situation in a better light simply because the boss was alive and back on the job! In the words of General Caulaincourt, “he said, his presence would both calm and reassure public opinion”.

    It worked as Napoleon expected. Having left his army to struggle home from Russia by itself, he arrived in Paris two days after Bulletin 29 had been published in the Moniteur. To emphasis the difference between the gloom that Bulletin 29 had created and the comfort of his presence, Napoleon was very upbeat. According to Caulaincourt, he “spoke of his disasters, of the mistake he had made by staying at Moscow, as a stranger might have done. ‘The venture failed by a week’s time’, he said. ‘Everything in the whole depends on that. The right moment, timeliness, those are everything.’” In meeting with some senior officials, Napoleon’s first words were: “Well, well, gentlemen, Fortune dazzled me. I let myself be carried away, instead of following the plan I had made and that I spoke of to you. … I had thought to gain in a year what only two campaigns could achieve. I have made a great blunder; but I shall have the means to retrieve it.” Napoleon later commented to Caulaincourt: “The terrible bulletin has had its effect, but I see that my presence is giving more pleasure than our disasters give pain.”

    Josephine’s daughter, Hortense, later confirmed that Napoleon’s PR campaign – along with an unwillingness of people to face up to “unpleasant facts” – worked:

    “His sudden return, his firm, confident attitude stopped our despair. One heard no more whispers (of his fall). We felt too humiliated to complain, and national pride would not permit us to dwell on the sacrifices we had made.”

    Visual image is also an important part of the dictatorial CEO’s self promotion. Kemal Ataturk believed in looking the part, telling an early colleague that it was “a fool’s belief that people like their leaders only with ideals. They want them dressed in the pomp of power and invested with the insignia of their office”. His military uniforms, including that of Field Marshal, were used as an important prop early in his career.

    Speer was surprised at the appearance of Hitler when he saw him for the first time in January 1931 as he addressed students of Berlin University and the Institute of Technology: “On posters and in caricatures I had seen him in military tunic, with shoulder straps, swastika armband, and hair flapping. But here he was wearing a well-fitted blue suit and looking markedly respectable. Everything about him bore out the note of reasonable modesty.” With this particular audience, Hitler knew that a military uniform would not promote the image of ‘the Man’. But the next time that Speer saw him, the audience – and the clothes – were different. Now he presented the image of ‘a Man’ who would not be swayed from his purpose. “I saw Hitler reproving one of his companions because the cars had not yet arrived. He paced back and forth angrily, slashing at the tops of his high boots with a dog whip and giving the general impression of a cross, uncontrolled man who treats his associates contemptuously. This Hitler was very different from the man of calm and civilised manner who had so impressed me at the student meeting. … I was seeing an example of Hitler’s remarkable duplicity – indeed, ‘multiplicity’ would be a better word. With enormous histrionic intuition he could shape his behaviour to changing situations in public.”

    The writer, Emil Ludwig was with a group of journalists in a hotel foyer in 1931 when they saw an example of Hitler’s image management:

    “Clad in a brand new overcoat, he was ambling lazily down the wide staircase, playing with the metal rod attached to the hotel keys to make guests remember to hand them over to the porter before leaving. He was whirling the key round the rod, to his own great amusement. Suddenly, about 20 paces off, he became aware of our group. That very second he dropped his hand to his side, stiffened his arms and legs, put on an expression of gloom, and, for our benefit, was transformed into Napoleon. Moved to the depths of his own schemes, he strode slowly past us.”

    Ludwig had a similar experience when he interviewed Mussolini:

    “Each afternoon, during the time we were carrying on the conversations I had prepared, alone together in the vast hall of the Palazzo Venezia, he was utterly natural. Once, however, when a man came to repair the telephone, he was unnatural with me because he was playing up to the workman, who he knew would later tell his mates what the Duce was really like.”

    In 1956, against the advice of colleagues, Mao swam in the Yangtze River, and his later conversation with Zhu Zhongli made it clear that he understood the importance of looking the part – not only for the audience, but for the boost it gives ‘the Man’ himself!

    Mao: “People should not like to show off. I swam for too long! I felt utterly exhausted, but I wanted to show off, so I kept going. If it hadn’t been for Ye Zilong (one of Mao’s lieutenants) making me get back on the ship, I would have died.”
    Zhu: “I don’t believe that. You swim very well.”
    Mao: “You don’t believe and the audience on the banks of the river didn’t believe either. I understood the illusion – therefore the more I swam, the more I was encouraged.”

    Mao was lucky that he did not overstep the mark and make himself look silly – which is absolutely one of the last things a dictatorial CEO should ever do. According to Hitler’s photographer, Heinrich Hoffman, he was careful what pictures he took because Hitler “had a horror of appearing ridiculous.” Hitler, like Ataturk, believed in the power of uniforms. But neither opened himself to the sort of ridicule that was sometimes directed at Mussolini. One journalist noted that he sometimes “looked like a circus performer in off hours”.

    When in 1939, foreign correspondents were invited to watch Mussolini engage in various sporting activities, including horse-riding, fencing and tennis, an American onlooker commented:

    “The dictator, garbed in a beige polo shirt and shorts which revealed the scar of the wound he had received in the thigh during World War I, was playing doubles. He was serving underarm like a novice, and he violated every tennis rule and tradition by walking at least two steps beyond the base line to serve. Even so, the two athletes who were playing against him – Rome’s leading professional tennis player, and … a member of Italy’s national soccer team – had difficulty in returning soap bubble his serves. Whenever the ball was returned, it floated slowly up so that a lame man with a broken arm could have hit it. Il Duce lobbed, smashed, and smiled, pleased with his triumph.” Mussolini, of course, won the game!

  8. Tudor says:

    A similar story is told about playing Chess with Napoleon.

    Jeff, I’m thinking it might be better to convert your extended comments to somewhat briefer ones citing the reference in the original book? This is mainly to help student study?

    Best wishes

  9. amer Chehade says:


    I have waited till today to post myown comments.
    Despite that I agree more with Tudor, I see some remarks to look atin Jeff’s lengthy lines.

    The matter is as follows for Saad Hariri:
    The more days pass the more he is showing traits of a leader. If you track Lebanon’s latest news, you will notice that-wether we like it ir not-Saad Hariri is proving not only leadership but also proving that history is really repeating itself and that truly this man is following the steps of his late father.

    His stand currently is so crucial not only to Lebanon’s stability but also to the region’s rising conflicts.

    Saad Hariri is in fact turning into a leader not in the eyes of his followers solely but also on the eyes of his adverseries.

    To know that this is not a propaganda, oneshould have a look on Lebanon’s news. Also, I never claimed or hinted that Saad Hariri is almost perfect, but aren’t leaders supposed to appear as such? I leave it for time and destiny to answer this question.



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