Saddam's Word Political Discourse in Iraq

Saddam's Word Political Discourse in Iraq

Saddam's Word Political Discourse in Iraq

Saddam's Word Political Discourse in Iraq


This is the first serious attempt to understand modern Iraq through a close examination of the political discourse used by the Ba'th regime and its leader, Saddam Hussein. By analyzing political terms, concepts, and idioms as disseminated through the official Iraqi mouthpieces, author Ofra Bengio illuminates Iraq's political culture and the events that these expressions have both reflected and shaped. Not only does this study add to our understanding of the "Saddam enigma;" it also offers a more universal truth: that under any regime, political culture is built on public discourse. Saddam's Word will be of much interest to students of the contemporary Middle East, as well as to all other observers of Saddam Hussein and his regime.


The Gulf War has turned Saddam Husayn's Iraq into the centerpiece of world attention, yet it remains an enigma. My long years of study of this regime have convinced me that the best way to try to unravel this enigma is not through conventional narrative history but rather through an analysis of political discourse.

This unique approach enables me to present the Ba'th regime's world through its own eyes and voice, thus providing deeper insight into and greater understanding of its political culture, self-images, and guiding myths and, in particular, the making of Saddam Husayn's worldview. The book thus provides a new way to understand the Ba'th's motives, policies, and ultimately its survival for almost three decades in the most difficult circumstances ever experienced by an Arab regime or state.

Saddam's Word draws on a wide range of previously untapped Iraqi sources, notably party documents, pamphlets, newspapers, and books. Another important source is the Qur'an, to which the regime itself has made recourse, especially in its third decade in power. The method applied in the study is interdisciplinary, combining research into the meaning of language, political culture, myth-making, and symbolism while integrating them into the wider context of political and historical developments in Iraq.

The book deals with the five most important overlapping spheres of Iraqi public life: the Ba'th and revolution; the political system and its leader Saddam Husayn; nation-building and ethnic minorities; enemies and wars . . .

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