According to Troy Patterson over at Slate, the Saddam Hussein portrayed in HBO’s series House of Saddam resembles more a crime lord than a genocidal dictator. It’s quite a relief to read that HBO went that route, as Hussein’s career resembles more that of a gangster than an ideologue.
Hussein’s eventual downfall in 2003 has quite a few resemblances to gangsters and criminals that have tried for years to out maneuver the Feds and eventually were destroyed. Like a district attorney or federal agent determined to bring down an racketeer, the United States was determined to bring down this guy that kept thumbing his nose at their authority. Saddam Hussein, like Al Capone, Reuben Sturman or other criminals eventually done in by the government, thought up until the eve of his destruction that he would somehow be able to keep his power.
In a biography of Hussein by Al Jazeera, there were stories of Hussein being bullied about his mother. Hussein intimidated the bullies by chasing them with a crowbar. Hussein’s famous idolizing of Joseph Stalin (Hussein once visited Stalin’s birthplace and made himself up to look alot like the Soviet tyrant) seemed more of a fascination with Stalin as a successful strongman than anything to do with a dictatorship of the proletariat. Hussein was a secularist, an Arab nationalist or an Islamist depending on what he felt the need to be at the time.