Saddam, We Hardly Knew Ye


The Atlantic has an interview with Mark Bowden, author of that mag's May cover story on the Butcher of Baghdad (and of Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo. Among the tidbits:

In modern times tyrants have tended to be motivated primarily by ideology. So you have Pol Pot and Mao and Stalin and Hitler and Castro, all of whom were driven by fantasies of creating a higher social order. And then you have tyrants like Mobutu Sese-Sekou and Idi Amin and Papa Doc Duvalier, who were primarily motivated by greed?who were just trying to amass as much power, and have sex with as many women, and eat as much food as they could. Saddam is different in that he appears to be motivated primarily by vanity. And by this romantic fascination with Arabian history?the glory of Arabia.


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  1. As an aside, I’d put Milosevic in the same category – motivation from a romantic vision of the past, and by the ‘glories’ of Serb history. He wanted a chance to finally win the battle of Kosovo…

  2. Bowden’s cover story is totally worth reading.

  3. I’d say Stalin was pretty willing to move around ideologically to sustain his own power and add to his future glory.

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