Gaddafi, Imran Khan and Behavioural Insights

First published on 21 March 2011 -

Behavioural Insights apply to evil dictators as much as consumers or the electorate.

Why shouldn’t they? We are all human.

So what has been the role of the Government’s new Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) in the Libya/Gaddafi debacle?

David Cameron is lauded for being the earliest ‘statesman’ to propose a no-fly zone.

This was when the brave anti-Gaddafi protesters had come together to call for his downfall on the streets of Tripoli (let alone Benghazi).

As I have Tweeted repeatedly, then was the time to do a deal with Gaddafi:


From: @TheSalmonAgency
Sent: Feb 27, 2011 11:28p

Is now a good time to block #Gaddafi UK financial assets? Won’t it force him to entrench position against protesters?

sent via Twitter for BlackBerry®
On Twitter:

We should have sent in the peacemakers to tell Gaddafi:

– where he would and would not be welcome to live

– that he must never return to Libya again

– he can have his Swiss bank accounts

– we will let bygones be bygones (i.e. give him an amnesty)

– and, frankly, tell him to f-off into oblivion (Terms & Conditions apply)

Unsavoury, I know, and certainly not ‘justice’.

But, as we must admit, only a short time ago we were cuddling up to him. Certainly, PM Tony Blair was (doesn’t he owe us a phone call to his old mucker Muammar?).

And has Martin McGuinness faced ‘justice’? Of course not (he’s an MP!). In Ireland, people were killed over a much longer period – making the deal more difficult to negotiate in the end.

Which is why we should have acted more quickly with Gaddafi.

As it is, we have:

– frozen his financial assets

– seized his properties around the world

– let him make a fool of himself on TV

– opened a war crimes investigation at The International Criminal Court in The Hague

– threatened the military action which is now a reality

– bombed his house.

What would anyone with any human behavioural insight expect Gaddafi to do next? Wave a white flag and face a lifetime in prison or feel Saddam Hussain’s rope round his neck?

In the 1992 cricket World Cup, Pakistan’s captain Imran Khan urged his losing team to ‘fight like caged tigers’.

This is what we have forced Gaddafi into doing.

Rather than leave the cage door open, our Governments have forced him into this corner – and, hence, are responsible for the innocent Libyans who are being bombed and killed as you read this. They have blood on their hands.

They hoped Gaddafi would do a Mubarak but they were not dealing with the same animal – as they should have known. We are all human.

Now the Arab League have threatened to pull out – They “did not want military strikes by Western powers that hit civilians”. They are human too.

No doubt, events will overtake this post.

Whatever happens, what a shambles.

About Hugh Salmon

Business leader. Adman. Writer.
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