A Perfect Dictator? Or did Saddam Hussein Follow Machiavelli‘s Advices? Essay Example
A Perfect Dictator? Or did Saddam Hussein Follow Machiavelli‘s Advices? Essay Example

A Perfect Dictator? Or did Saddam Hussein Follow Machiavelli‘s Advices? Essay Example

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The XX century is often called a century of dictators, and one of them is Saddam Hussein – a totalitarian leader, who managed to maintain his regime till 2003, but was still deprived of power. In his book “The Prince” Nikkolo Machiavelli, an Italian political thinker of the XVI century, presented an outstanding “Dictator‘s Guide”, still applicable nowdays. The book draws an image of a, so to say, perfect dictator. It is a questionable matter, whether Saddam‘s dictatorship was perfect, nevertheless, it would be rather interesting to compare Machiavelli‘s theoretical instructions and Saddam‘s practical actions.Three main issues shall be subject to comparison in this paper: how Saddam Hussein came to power; how he kept his power; and what reasons caused him to lose his power in a way this has actually happened.

>In “The Prince” Machiavelli explains, that there are two types of states – republics and monarchies. The power in those states may be acquired either by the arms of the ruler himself, or of others, or else by fortune or by ability. Later Machiavelli speaks, that there are some other ways to become a leader, and one of them is to obtain supremacy by a crime. In the latter case, the only way, under Machiavelli, to stay in power is to demonstrate perfect ability and valour both before and after becoming a ruler[1].Saddam fells under a definition of a ruler, who obtained his dominion by valour and by crime. After an attempt to assassinate Abdul Kassim, the military strongman and prime minister of Iraq in 1959, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death, but managed to escape to Syria.

Later, after Kasssim‘s downfall, he returne

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to Iraq, and was imprisoned again in 1964 and 1966 for plotting against the regime. In 1968 the Baath Party seized power in Iraq and Saddam Hussein became the leader of the country. This was the end of a valorous part. Saddam‘s revolutionary image gave him enough  support of the Iraqi people to perform a second part and get rid of his political opponents. In 1979, after murdering five other members of the Revolutionary Council he became an absolute ruler[2].

This was the criminal part. Machiavelli‘s words: “Yet it cannot be called talent to slay fellow-citizens, to deceive friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; such methods may gain empire, but not glory[3]” are most suitable to his actions.Now let‘s consider what instructions does Machiavelli offer to a dictator to keep his power, and what Saddam Hussein really did. In Chapter XVII of “The Prince”, called “Concerning Cruelty And Clemency, And Whether It Is Better To Be Loved Than Feared” Machiavelli writes, that a monarch may be either loved or feared by his subjects. The best for the monarch is to inspire both love and fear, without hatred.

But, in case a it is impossible to do so, it is better to inspire fear, than love, because fear depends on the will of a ruler and love does not[4].It can be clearly indicated, that Saddam had chosen fear, rather than love. To make people love himself, he used a skillful propaganda and people‘s gullibility, and to make them afraid he established a ruthless secret police and played on people‘s fear, that an Islamic Republic would be installed in Iraq[5]. Saddam‘s rule brought little

good to Iraqi people, to make them love Hussein.

Exhausting war with Iran, UN sanctions political repressions and administrative blunders would have been fatal in normal circumstances[6]. Nevertheless, Hussein‘s capacity for trading upon human weaknesses allowed him to stay in power by inspiring fear.Our final issue is to clarify the reasons which led to the fall of the Husseinian regime and compare them with Machiavelli‘s ideas. In fact, the US intervention to Iraq was hardly successful in it‘s first days.

Iraqi‘s desperate resistance even caused talks about second Vietnam. But, the problem has been resolved in the fastest and most unexpected way. US forces entered Bagdad without any considerable struggle.Some explanation can be given to those facts if we turn to the fourth chapter of “The Prince”, called “Why The Kingdom Of Darius, Conquered By Alexander, Did Not Rebel Against The Successors Of Alexander At His Death”. In it, Machiavelli explains, that a state can be governed in two different ways: either by a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom; or by a prince and barons, who have their own subjects, recognizing them as lords[7].

The first type of states enjoy internal unity; it is hard for a conqueror to find assistance between it‘s subjects. But the good in such a dominion is that it is easy to be ruled after a conquest using a settled administrative system and official‘s habit to discipline. The second type of states are easy to be conquered, using support of the internal opposition, but they are hard to be controlled later, as this opposition appears to be confronting with the new ruler

same as with the old one.This rule is very much applicable to Iraq.

Even despite of severe oppression, Saddam Hussein had to face religious (Shiites), national (Kurds) and political (communists) opposition[8], which, certainly, did little to help Hussein at the decisive moment. Having suddenly appeared in the political vacuum, Hussein had no other choice, than to flee from Bagdad. But now it is not so hard to predict, that former opposition to Hussein will now continue struggling for it‘s old interests with the occupational forces and newly formed Iraqi authorities.It is hard to say, whether Saddam Hussein read Machiavelli‘s works and did he consciously tried to follow his advices. But still, as all other dictators, he had to obey the laws of political science, discovered by Machiavelli. And those laws predetermined the fall of his dictatorship.

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