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The Little Princes Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Hussein Macarambon, Japan Aug 12, 2003
Human Rights  
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“He who could wound others the most cleverly was thought the wisest,” Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in his book “The Prince.” Today Saddam Hussein has persecuted his people but he remains the lone savior to their eyes. Although Iraqis regard Saddam as a wise and benign leader, many people of the world think otherwise. The reelection of Saddam Hussein was seen by the United States as a threat not only to the security of its people, but also to the people ruled by this tyrant. How then did a leader like Saddam Hussein hold on to power while his people caught hell?

The world has seen ‘great men’ who rose to power and became abominable dictators of their people. Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin and a few others achieved leadership by claiming to be the best authority that the people could trust and maintained that power at the cost of millions of innocent lives, able to hold a candle to the vilification and the brutal murder of people under the rule of Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. However, with the evolution of political machinations, these dictators have been outnumbered by today’s Machiavellian Princes.

Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince” was completed in 1513, almost five hundred years ago but its significance can still be depicted in present-day politics. The fundamental question that Machiavelli tried to answer was how a leader first acquires a coalition of support to attain power, and then sustains himself with it.

Many ‘great men’ in history, as well as in this day and age, had perpetuated themselves in power with a little help from their circle of political advisers and yet more substantially from their own perfected faculties of speech, prevarication, and charisma. This process of gaining support from the ruled majority is accomplished with the utmost care to avoid losing the ruler’s legitimacy. Machiavelli characterizes the “need to maintain the support of legislators, party workers, and voters, all of whom are in a sense mercenaries because their support must be secured by promises of action in their favor and maintained by the delivery of at least some of these promised benefits.”

It is amazing how the anachronistic teachings of an ambitious mind had survived through the years breathing new life into the world where the spring of democracy once gave light to the weak and the ruled. Today, many formidable leaders have camouflaged themselves as protectors of their people. They have remained in power with the price of freedom, justice, and morality, while on numerous occasions, their ultimate dominance has been reflected through mass atrocity.

The reelection of Saddam Hussein caused probing criticisms in the international arena of protagonists of the Anti-Saddam camps. However, the reported 100% voter turnout clearly proved that the people of Iraq regard their leader as a “savior from heaven”. The one who will alleviate the country from the pandemonium brought upon, arguably, by the invasion of Western civilization. The most striking idiocy to the people outside Iraq, especially to those who do not share the Iraqi people’s culture, is not their getting on Hussein's bandwagon, but their ignorance and tolerance of their experiences and history.

The Iraqi Kurds to the North and the Shiites to the South along the frontiers of Iran, among others had witnessed the atrocities and murderous discrimination taken against them by none other than the great leader himself. Saddam had incarcerated thousands of his people who showed death-defying courage in their outcry of discontent toward the government.

In “Splendor and Ruin: The Tale of Two Baghdads” which came out of the New York Times in January 1998, Barbara Crossette describes how buildings in Baghdad convey engravings “hailing Saddam as a new Al Mansur, the Caliph who founded Baghdad in the eighth century.” He is also portrayed as equal to Nebuchadnezzar, “one of the greatest of ancient Babylonians, ruled in the sixth century B.C.” Crossette explains why Saddam seems to be gaining a towering strength over his people despite the consequential misery brought upon by the oil embargo and other economic sanctions imposed by the UN.

Saddam’s popularity among his people, ironically, is contradicted by the wretchedness of the country’s social and economic conditions. Crossette argues that the middle class “might have formed a political opposition” if this hope had not been destroyed by the economic breakdown in the country. “An Iraqi professional now earns a base pay of 3,000 dinars a month, or about $2 at the unofficial exchange rate, for government work, which includes hospitals and universities,” Crossette adds.

“We have two big rivers. We have oil. It should not be like this, “ movingly declared by Dr. Dhia Obaidi, a pediatrician at the Saddam Central Children’s Hospital. The sentiments of his fellowmen are not loud enough to be heard by the president. Saddam still defies the Security Council by spurning its disarmament resolutions and harboring weapons of mass destruction. The recent news on Hussein’s reelection and his pardoning of prisoners, political and criminal alike, have been instrumental to the vanishing of hope for the people of this poverty-ridden land. But a sizable number of protests in the streets of Baghdad have not stopped the people of Iraq from crying the religious encomium for their aging, yet hawkish, leader. On October 15, the one-candidate Presidential election day in Iraq, Newsweek reported that 11,445,638 (100%) voters struck “yes” and some bloodied their fingers with pins to mark the YES box for seven more years of Saddam Hussein. Have the people of Iraq gone totally non compos mentis or are they just a race of dupable cowards?

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