Wikileaks: Meles’s Myers-Briggs type


I am impressed by how far the State Department goes to understand the people they are dealing with. The following Myers-Briggs profile of Meles Zenawi is very interesting and at times entertaining. Not only are you being worked on with carrots and sticks, but they are served with your personality in mind …


¶1. (S/NF) After scores of meetings with Ethiopian Prime
Minister Meles Zenawi, Post has strong confidence in our
ability to infer Meles's Myers-Briggs type. We strongly
believe that Meles is a strong ISTJ.


¶2. (S/NF) We have a high degree of confidence that Meles is a
moderate-to-strong "I." He is quiet, deliberative, and
certainly not a "man about town." We understand from direct
engagements with him, and from those close to him, that he is
a voracious reader and very introspective (both personally
and about the country). While Meles certainly has to work
the members of the ruling party's central committee, these
are all long-time, very close friends. He thrives on
one-on-one or small group discussions (such as with renown
economists, talking about imperial Japanese history, or the
U.S. founding fathers), while being far more reserved in
larger groups (i.e. large CODEL groups, etc.). As such, we
are highly confident of this "I" classification.


¶3. (S/NF) Meles is a details man. He knows them inside and
out, and he deploys them quickly and precisely to establish
and defend his arguments. Whenever we raise concerns, he
responds with highly nuanced and highly specific details to
counter our arguments. He is particularly adept at using
such details to counter points raised by senior USG (and
presumably other foreign) officials. On numerous occasions
we have observed Meles run circles around visitors who note
general concerns by throwing out detailed responses. As some
more senior USG visitors may not know all of the specific
details regarding a particular dynamic they are asked to
raise beyond what may be included in a two-page brief, their
ability to offer a detailed retort can be limited or can lead
them to stand down without countering Meles's response. As
such, we are again highly confident that Meles is an "S."


¶4. (S/NF) We assess that Meles is likely a moderate-to-strong
"T," but internal ruling party dynamics require him to
operate skillfully as an "F" as well, which he does with
aplomb. As with his deployment of details in presenting an
argument, Meles conveys his analysis of internal, economic,
and regional dynamics in a clear, logical way focused on
ends/objectives far more than on values. While Meles does
certainly still rely to a fair extent on "values"
(particularly regarding the ideologies of revolutionary
democracy and the developmental state), his thinking on these
issues has evolved over the years, particularly after
engagement with others (Sachs, Stiglitz, western governments,
etc.) suggesting that when confronted with a detailed,
logical, results-oriented argument he can move away from
ideological dogma. A stronger argument for his "T"ness, is
actually the argument against his "F"ness as evidenced by the
rift within the TPLF in 2001. Meles's absolute and
near-visceral break from Seeye Abraha ) perhaps his best,
closest, and oldest friend ) suggests that when push comes
to shove, he is far more wedded to tasks/ends than
interpersonal relationships. Finally, Meles desperately
wants recognition and public accolades for his achievements,
consistently focusing us on his accomplishments while being
relatively more willing to forego appreciation while efforts
remain in process.

¶5. (S/NF) While we are fairly confident that Meles is a
moderate-to-strong "T," our confidence is lessened by how
effectively Meles can operate as an "F." The TPLF Executive
Committee has a lot of strong and dogmatic personalities that
would not take lightly to being vetoed frequently. Meles has
retained his influence over more than two decades by
navigating this dynamic well. Moreover, Meles is an expert
in knowing his audience and choosing his language carefully
to deliver a carefully-crafted, audience-specific argument.
Still, the dynamics behind his break with others in the TPLF
in 2001 and his logic-, rather than values-, based
argumentation that leads us to believe that he is a "T."


¶6. (S/NF) Meles is certainly a strong "J." Throughout our
scores of meetings with the Prime Minister, in which he
consistently operates without notes, Meles delivers points on
any range of issues that can be precisely diagrammed into an
outline. Within each point of his arguments he deploys a
precise list of supporting details or arguments. Meles is a
linear thinker, starting from the beginning, then reaching
the end before broaching a new issue. We are very confident
of Meles's "J"ness.


¶7. (S/NF) We hope that this analysis provides useful insights
for USG interlocutors who will engage the Prime Minister.
Meles's ISTJ type suggests very clearly that the most
persuasive arguments to make with the Prime Minister to sway
his decisions will be those that are delivered privately,
focused on an end objective that he supports or values,
highly specific and detailed, and delivered in a clear,
linear fashion. Further, if our message is one that he is
likely to oppose, our arguments will be much more effective
if delivered in a way that emphasize the objective -- Meles
particularly understands and appreciates arguments that
clearly reflect the explicit pursuit of national interests.
Further, USG interlocutors must be thoroughly prepared with
details to retort Meles's detailed responses to initial USG
points. End Comment.

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