the making of a dictator
Shadow of the Hegemon has a lot of juicy stuff, as always, but in particular this lovely piece about how various forces have combined to paint Saddam Hussein--who, Demosthenes contends, is hardly a prize but also not much worse than a lot of dictators the US and others deal with, and with few evident qualms.
I think anybody who sits down and studies his past behaviour would quickly notice that on comparison with any number of dictators, past and present, he's not actually that different. Although the right takes great pains to try to portray him differently, those who call him "just another tinpot dictator" are essentially right- there's little that seperates him from many other dictator.
...there's been an excellent public relations job done on behalf of the United States government to demonize Saddam more so than any other dictator around the planet, it's been going on for a long time, and I personally believe it's one of the real reasons why invasion may be inevitable.
...Generals famously always fight the last war, and the last war was Vietnam, a war that many believe was lost in the minds of the American public long before it was lost in the jungles of Vietnam. They had to make sure that people didn't sympathize with Iraq. So, they took Saddam Hussein, the dictator, and turned him into Saddam Hussein, the monster.(emphasis in the original)
...The problem with this whole line of argument is that there's any number of dictators out there who could theoretically get ahold of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and who hate the United States. So why Saddam? Those of us who either didn't believe or didn't listen to the propaganda (for that is what it was) continue to ask that question, and with good justification.
...Unfortunately, outside of the United States this portrait of "Saddam as monster" never really took. Most see him as yet another dictator, but didn't really support him and hoped to see him gone. As I said, international pariah... at least up until the U.S. administration, emboldened by public support for the (somewhat unrelated) War on Terror/Islam/whatever and success (of a sort) in Afghanistan finally started talking invasion. When that happened, those who realized that really meant the end of national sovereignty as we know it started backing an unloved dictator whose ouster nonetheless represented something much bigger.
Demosthenes also states the obvious, but as always, states it well: 9/11 simply gave the neocons the excuse they've been looking for to attack Iraq.