¶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. A STRONG INTROVERT “I”
¶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. STRONGLY SENSING “S8 —————
¶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.” LIKELY THINKING “T” ———–
¶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 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.” DEFINITELY JUDGING “J”
¶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.