The Ba'thification of Iraq: Saddam Hussein and the Ba‘th Party's system of control
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Why and how did Saddam Hussein and the Ba'th Party maintain their authority in Iraq for so long in contrast to their predecessors? Based on an archival study of recently opened internal Ba'th Party documents, this study argues that Hussein and the Ba'th used a strategic policy of Ba'thification to trap Iraqis within an environment created by a series of controls that channeled their behavior into avenues supportive of the regime. With a monopoly over state power, Hussein and the Ba'th Party used violence and surveillance to eliminate enemies, monitor state and society, and engender fear. Equally important, the Ba'thist State doled out benefits connected to a system of awards and official statuses bestowed upon Iraqis who exhibited allegiance. This combination of terror and enticement offered Iraqis a stark choice between opposing and supporting the regime, and the consequences of an individual's behavior extended to his family, providing a further incentive for loyalty. Additionally, Hussein and the Ba'th "organized" state and society by recruiting individuals into the party and its proxies and co-opting or replacing the leaderships of government and social institutions with loyalists. Simultaneously, Hussein used the Ba'th Party to take over the Iraqi state--to transform it into the Ba'thist State. He then utilized the Ba'thist State's resources to either obliterate and build anew existing civil and social institutions or reform and incorporate them into the government's legal and administrative frameworks. In the process, Hussein transformed these institutions' raisons d'être into support for himself, the party, and the Iraqi nation: the three primary symbols of his regime. Finally, Hussein infused classical Ba'thist ideology with his personality cult to rationalize his emergence as "the Leader." Through propaganda, indoctrination, ritual, mass ceremonies, and myth the Ba'thist State applied the political ideas of this Husseini Ba'thism to all aspects of public and private life in an attempt to reorient Iraqis' conceptions of what constituted a just and "natural" society to conform to the Ba'thist reality. Combined, the boundaries these controls placed on permissible action and thought forced Iraqis to subordinate their traditional loyalties to the regime, making them complicit in it.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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