It's Not Easy Being Mean

| May 8, 2002

It's Not Easy Being Mean, Sage Stossel, The Atlantic Online
The media's caricatures of despots make hating them easy--too easy. But, as Sage Stossel explains in an interview with author Mark Bowden in The Atlantic Online, to understand how a tyrant becomes so brutal and power-hungry, we must analyze when and how their more humanitarian side was corrupted. Saddam Hussein is an excellent case-in-point. Bowden, who spoke with people who had been close to Saddam, says that before coming to power the dictator had been respected as a visionary for Iraq's future: 'Not so long ago, Saddam was admired as a thoughtful, articulate, intelligent politician who was an asset to Iraq's reform-minded socialist-revolutionary party. He began to implement a number of reforms to Iraq's health-care and educational systems that both seemed to fulfill his early promise and earned him praise in the West.' But things changed as Saddam garnered more power, and Bowden muses about whether that power corrupted the leader or vice versa. Today, Bowden says, Saddam's growing desperation to hold onto his iron-fisted authority might result in his ultimate end.
--Julie Madsen
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