"Revisiting Machiavelli: A Comparison of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein's Leadership Styles,"
by Jeff Flournoy

Argument: "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one." - Thomas Paine

Some of us follow the leaders in our lives because we have to while others follow because of their charisma.

The Prince by Machiavelli presents an argument of governing a state that is drastically different from the other rulers of his time. Machiavelli believed that the ruling Prince should be the sole authority determining every aspect of the people and that this ruler should put in effect a policy that would serve his best interests. These interests were gaining, maintaining and expanding his political power. His understanding of human nature was a complete contradiction of what humanitarians believed and taught. Machiavelli strongly promoted a secular society where morality was not necessary but in fact stood in the way of an effectively governed principality. Though in most cases, Machiavelli's suggestions seem harsh and immoral you have to remember that those views came out of concern of Italy's unstable political condition. He wrote this book for his own prince, Lorenzo De Medici ruler of Florence, to promote himself into the political arena of Italy. During the Renaissance Italy was a scene of intense political conflict involving dominant city-states of Florence, Milan, Venice, and Naples, plus the Papacy, France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire. He analyzed power and the way the Prince could gain enough power to become Italy's prime ruler and keep control. The extensive explanations by Machiavelli were driven by his own fascination with power and his desire for an independent Italy. Machiavelli was only interested in directly discussing the elements of power as he wrote," Since it is my intention to write something of use, I deem it is best to stick to practical truth of things rather than to fancies. Many men have imagined republics and principalities that never existed at all. Yet the way men live is so far removed from the way they ought to live that anyone who abandons what is for what should be pursues his downfall rather than his preservation." When Machiavelli mentioned "fancies", he was referring to the theories set prior to his own. Theories, which recognized men as good, thus able to controlled by good. But in this quote, Machiavelli points out that men do not live in such a fashion. Therefore, those acts which are other than good are necessary for acquisition and preservation of power in society. Machiavelli set the precedent for the cold and calculated regardless of the century they live in. He discusses frankly, the necessity of cruel actions to keep power. He was in the business of power preservation not piety. Those who desire power in any situation may look to his strategies for solid aid. "he (the leader of the state) must stick to the good so long as he can, but, being compelled be necessity; he must be ready to take the way of evil." Thus the term Machiavellianism is defined: The political doctrine of Machiavelli, which denies the relevance of morality in political affairs and holds that craft and deceit are justified in pursuing and maintaining political power. This definition implies that in the arena of power the end justifies the means. This is essentially the core of Machiavellianism. The priority for the power holder is to keep the security of the state regardless of the morality of the means. Similarly today many leaders in the Islamic World also take on a somewhat Machiavellian-like spirit in the way they rule . Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden have been prime targets of the American government in the news lately. They are America's prime targets in the war against terrorism. As we revisit Machiavelli, how can we compare what both leaders believe and how it affects their power versus what people in the free US of America and how they view leadership? Who is the better leader? Who has the best prescription for Leadership? Let's take a look at the history of both Saddam and Osama.


Biography of Saddam Hussein


The current leader of Iraq is was born on April 28, 1937, in a small village of al-Auja near the town of Takrit. His early child hood was spent in a mud hut in a mostly Sunni Muslim part of Iraq, which is approximately (100) one-hundred miles north of Baghdad. Hussein's father, Hussein al-Majid, died or abandoned the family (according to who is reporting the story), within a short time of his birth. Accurate records are difficult to obtain in a country where Hussein's birthday is celebrated as a national holiday. He was reared alone by his mother Subha, until she took a second husband, Ibrahim Hassan. Hassan, often said to have been brutal and a thief, was a sheepherder by profession and enlisted Saddam in his ventures. According to a former personal secretary of Hussein, his step father abused Saddam and sent him to steal chicken and sheep to be sold. This pattern continued until 1947 when, at the age of ten, he was allowed to move in with his mother's brother, Khayrallah Tulfah, in Baghdad.

In Baghdad, Hussein began to learn more than reading and writing. His tutor, Khayrallah had been "cashiered" from the Iraqi army for supporting a "Pro-Nazi" coup attempt that failed. Khayrallah's bitterness towards the British and imperialism, soon was transferred to Saddam. In fact, some confidants of Hussein point to his relationship with Tulfah as a turning point in his political awareness. To demonstrate Tulfah's importance to Hussein, he was later made Mayor of Baghdad under the Hussein regime. Saddam finished intermediate school (roughly the equivalent of 9th Grade) at the age of sixteen, and attempted to be admitted to the prestigious Baghdad Military Academy.

Unfortunately, his poor grades prevented him from doing so, and he became more deeply involved in political matters. In 1956, he participated in a non-successful coup attempt against the monarchy of King Faisal II. In 1957, he joined the Baath party, a radical nationalist movement. In 1958, a non-Baathist group of army officers succeeded in overthrowing the King. The group was led by General Abdul Qassim. In 1959, Saddam and a group of Baathist supporters attempted to assassinate Gen. Qassim by a day-light machine-gun attack. The attack was unsuccessful, but it helped to place Hussein in a leadership position in the Baathist movement and furthered the process of nationalist political indoctrination. After the attack, in which Hussein is slightly wounded, he fled to Syria. From Syria, he went to Cairo, Egypt where he would spend the next four (4) years. While receiving aid from Egypt, he finished high school at the age of twenty-four and continued his political education. While in Egypt, he was arrested on at least two occasions for threatening a fellow student and chasing another down the street with a knife, both for political differences. In 1961, he entered Cairo University School of Law, but did not finish his studies there. In 1963, a group of Baathist army officers tortured and assassinated General Qassim. This was done on Iraqi television. They also mutilated many of Qassim's devotees and showed their bodies (in close up) on the nightly news for more than one night. Saddam, hearing the news, quickly rushed back to Iraq to become involved in the revolution. And involved, he was, as both an interrogator and torturer at the infamous "Palace of the End", in the basement of the former palace of King Faisal.

According to reports by Hanna Batatu (a government reporter), Hussein rose quickly through the ranks, due to his extreme efficiency as a torturer. The Baathist party split in 1963 and Saddam had supported the "winner" in the latest party struggle. He was appointed by Michel Aflaq to be a member of the Baath Regional Command. In 1964, Hussein was jailed by some "rightist" military officers who opposed the Baathist takeover. Through other politicalinfluence provided by his older cousin, General Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, Hussein became deputy Secretary-General of the Baathists in 1966. In 1966, Hussein escaped from prison and set up a Baathist internal party security system known as the Jihaz Haneen. It was to serve as the continuation of his political and real rise to power in Iraq. In 1968, another major upheaval in Iraq gave Hussein the greatest opportunity for further advancement; his mentor, Gen. Bakr and the Baathist seized the government. Hussein was made Deputy Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, in charge of internal security.

At the age of thirty-one (31) he had acquired what could have been deemed the number two spot in the Baathist party. He would continue in the position for approximately the next ten years. During that time, he would continue to consolidate his power by appointing numerous family members to positions of authority in the Iraqi government. In his position of Deputy in Charge of Internal Security, he built an enormous security apparatus and had spies and informers everywhere in the circles of power in Iraq.
During this time, Hussein also began to accumulate the wealth and position that he so relished as a poor sheep-herder in the desert of al-Auja. He and his family, now firmly entrenched in the infrastructure of the country , began to control the country's oil and other industrial enterprises. With the help of his security network and several personal assassins, Hussein took control of many of the nation's leading businesses.

In 1978, Saddam had been working with other Arab nations to ostracize Egypt for it's diplomatic initiative in resolving Israel/Arab questions. An ally, President Hafez al-Assad of Syria, almost became the undoing of Hussein's ascension. If a Syrian/Iraqi federation were formed against Egypt, Assad, not Hussein, would rise to a position of greater power in the relationship. President Bakr would lead the federation with Assad as second in command. Hussein could not allow that to happen and began to urge the President to step down. Again with the help of his family and security apparatus, Hussein was able to accomplish his task. On July 16, 1979, President Bakr resigned, officially due to health problems, but in reality a victim of Hussein's political in-fighting. Moving quickly to consolidate his power, he called a major Baathist meeting on July 22, 1979. During the meeting, various family members and other Hussein devotees urged that the party be "cleansed". Hussein then read a list of names and asked that they step outside. Once there, they are taken into custody.

A high-ranking member of the Revolutionary Command, the head of the labor unions, the leading Shiite member of the Command, and twenty (20) others are then systematically and personally killed by Hussein and his top party officials. During the next few days, reports indicate that as many as 450 other military officers, deputy prime ministers, and "non-party faithful" were rounded up and killed. This purge insured Hussein's consolidation of power in Iraq.

In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran and conducted an eight year war against one of his nearest neighbors and the home of Shiite fundamentalist Muslims. Again, because it appeared that the Shiites could be a threat to his continued dictatorship, the Kurds (Iraqi minority) were sprayed with poison gas for participating with the Iranians in an attempted overthrow of his country. The war continued for eight years of brutality and even repression of Hussein's own countrymen (especially the Kurds).

In 1988, after millions being killed, Iraq and Iran conduct a cease-fire and ended the bloodshed. By 1984, as many as 1.5 million Iraqis were supporters of Hussein and the Baathists. He continued to enlarge his security apparatus and army. In insidious ways, the party apparatus formed numerous government agencies to control and manipulate the citizens of Iraq. A statistical analysis of the population indicated that as many as fifty per cent of the Iraqis or a member of their family were employed by the government or military. The party and the people have become one. Hussein's domination of the country is complete.

Even the war against Iran didn't end the peoples support for Hussein, although some small protests did dampen the population's support for the conflict with Iran. Ultimately however, the war with Iran only strengthened Hussein's resolve and, in some eyes, causes him to become a "hero" of Arab nationalism. This brings us to the chapter of Hussein's life that has not been thoroughly researched and written. It involves the 1990, summer invasion of Kuwait over a dispute about oil prices and political control of the Persian Gulf. The subsequent United Nation Resolutions and United States intervention in the defense of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other nearby countries will undoubtedly impact on the history of Saddam Hussein.

Hussein has managed to survive the loss of a large portion of his army, a major psychological defeat, and control of the Northern and Southern part of Iraq, yet he continues in power in Iraq. His resilience is extraordinary, and so far he has managed to elude the allied powers, who would like to see him replaced as the leader of a major Middle-Eastern country. One thing is sure, Hussein is a man who is filled with pride. He is firmly entrenched in the history and culture of Iraq. If past history can serve as a guide, in regard to his future behavior, one can expect that he will use all of his resources to exact revenge against those that defeated him. The most viable route for revenge, by Hussein and Iraq, is the conduct of terrorist operations. No one should discount his future involvement in actions against the United States or her allies.

Saddam exemplifies a Machiavelli type attitude by exerting rulership by fear. His ways of acquiring power were definitely not parallel to those of the Koran. One practice that the prophet Muhammad established early on was a regular schedule of public meetings with the community members to get their advice on political actions, alliances, governors, and other mundane affairs. These meetings were held in the mosque of Medina for the most part, and they presented a chance for all members to speak their minds on the issues that faced the community. Muhammad never silenced anyone nor took action against those who expressed differing opinions. Moreover, he often concurred with the majority consensus. This was the Shura, or Tradition of Consultation, which forms the basis of the representative political structure in Islam.


Interview of Saddam by Adel Darwish

Consider this interview from Dr. Adel Darwish who personally interviewed Saddam in 1975 in Baghdad:

"In 1975 in Baghdad, "Mr. Deputy", as Saddam was known then, charmed three Western journalists he invited to his table. During a chilling account of his Kurdistan campaign, Mr. Deputy entertained us with generous measures of whisky and his analysis of the new mafia film The Godfather. His obsession with the central character and the storyline - on which he later modeled many of his own moves - is a key to his tactics and maneuvers. Some deals the Godfather made, he said, "might seem humiliating concessions, But they were calculated tactics that enabled him to laugh last and laugh louder". On another occasion, six years later, Saddam sought the views of visiting writers on The Long Days, a personally promoted film about his life that showed him making concessions, escaping and hiding as heroic deeds. The historic goal was to survive as "a Godfather, without whom the Iraqi family would disintegrate".


"I did meet Saddam on several occasions, the most telling one was in 1975 when he was Mr Deputy - not the leader yet- so
we sat at the same table he outdrank the rest of us ( three British journalists) - and talked more freely than any other time. He talked almost  two hours about the mafia film the God Father, and about two more hours on his campaign against the Kurds and his vision for ' the Iraqi family', there wasn't much talk of Arab nationalism yet. He talked about other things to do with culture, Art, his meeting with the Shah etc - it was six hour our session."

Biography of Osama Bin Laden

Considered the world's foremost terrorist, Osama bin Laden is the leading suspect in the horrific Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged part of the Pentagon, and resulted in a plane crash in Pennsylvania. Although he has denied involvement in the attack, he referred to it, through an aid, as "punishment from Allah." Bin Laden has been implicated in a string of deadly attacks on the United States and its allies: the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; the 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 200; and the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. Bin Laden also claims responsibility for a 1993 gunfight that killed 18 U.S. troops in Somalia and the 1996 bombing of the Khobar military complex in Saudi Arabia that left 19 U.S. soldiers dead.

Bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia around 1957 to a father of Yemeni origins and a Syrian mother. His father, Mohammed bin Laden, founded a construction company and with royal patronage became a billionaire. The company's connections won it such important commissions as rebuilding mosques in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Mohammed bin Laden took numerous wives and fathered about 50 children. Osama was the 17th son, the only born to a later wife. In a society where status within a family is highly important, bin Laden would therefore have been of relatively low rank. Bin Laden studied management and economics at King Abdul Aziz University in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, coming under the influence of religious teachers who introduced him to the wider world of Islamic politics.

The Taliban
Afghan War
Saudi Arabia
Cold War
Islam Primer

The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan galvanized bin Laden. He supported the Afghan resistance, which became a jihad, or holy war. Ironically, the U.S. became a major supporter of the Afghan resistance, or mujahideen, working with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to set up Islamic schools in Pakistan for Afghan refugees. These schools later evolved into virtual training centers for Islamic radicals. By the mid-1980s, bin Laden had moved to Afghanistan, where he established an organization, Maktab al-Khidimat (MAK), to recruit Islamic soldiers from around the world who later form the basis of an international network. The MAK maintained recruiting offices in Detroit and Brooklyn in the 1980s.

The Taliban, the former rulers of Afghanistan, arose from the religious schools set up during the mujahideen's war against the Soviet invasion. After the Soviet army withdrew in 1989, fighting erupted among mujahideen factions. In response to the chaos, the fundamentalist Taliban was formed and within two years it captured most of the country. The Taliban gave bin Laden sanctuary in 1996.


An International Network

After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia and worked in his family's construction business. He founded an organization to help veterans of the Afghan war, many of whom went on to fight in Bosnia, Chechnya, Somalia, and the Philippines. Scholars have suggested these loosely connected bands of seasoned soldiers, ready to fight for Islamic causes, form the basis of bin Laden's current support. In 1990, in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Saudi government allowed American troops to be stationed in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden was incensed that non-believers (American soldiers) were stationed in the birthplace of Islam. He also charged the Saudi regime with deviating from true Islam. Bin Laden was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991 because of his anti-government activities. He eventually wound up in Sudan, where he worked with Egyptian radical groups in exile.

Anti-U.S. Attacks
In 1992 bin Laden claimed responsibility for attempting to bomb U.S. soldiers in Yemen and for attacking U.S. troops in Somalia the following year. In 1994 pressure from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia prompted Sudan to expel bin Laden, and he returned to Afghanistan.  In 1998 bin Laden called for all Americans and Jews, including children, to be killed. He has since been accused of increasing his terrorist activities, such as the 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The date, Aug. 7, was the anniversary of the deployment of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia. U.S. cruise missile attacks against targets in the Sudan and Afghanistan in Aug. 1998 are not believed to have seriously hampered bin Laden's network. Bin Laden continues to call for the destruction of the U.S., Israel, and the Saudi monarchy, stating that with these obstacles removed, Islam's three holiest sites, Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem, would then be liberated.

International Terrorist Network
Yet, even as he is reviled in the West, bin Laden is a hero in parts of the Islamic world, according to intelligence reports. His organization is called al-Qaeda, "the Base," and has approximately 3,000 followers, which he funds with his estimated $250 million fortune. Experts have said that bin Laden could represent a new trend in terrorism—privatization. Until his emergence, most large-scale terrorist organizations are believed to have been connected to governments. With his money and disciplined followers, however, bin Laden is believed to have the ability to launch even more devastating terrorist attacks. He has not denied that he is seeking nuclear or chemical weapons, saying that it is a religious duty to defend Islam. Bin Laden has been disowned by most of his family, including a brother, Sheik Bakr Mohammed bin Laden, who has established scholarship funds at Harvard Law School, and the Harvard School of Design. In 1991 his Saudi citizenship was revoked.

Wanted: Dead or Alive
After the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. issued an ultimatum to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to turn over bin Laden—this was just the last of several such demands made by the U.S. and the UN after bin Laden was implicated in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa (the U.S. also responded then by launching retaliatory missile attacks on Sudan and an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan). Binding their fate to bin Laden's, the Taliban became the target of air strikes by the U.S. and Britain beginning in October 2002 that swiftly toppled the regime within two months. But Bin Laden, the object of the military campaign in Afghanistan, remained at large. He was believed to have fled to the mountainous region of Tora Bora, but the heavy U.S. bombing campaign that followed failed to vanquish him. Since the attacks, Bin Laden has released several video tapes broadcast on Qatar's Al Jazeera network, the first of which praised the Sept. 11 hijackers, but stopped just short of claiming responsibility for them. In subsequent tapes, he threatened that more attacks against "the infidel" will occur and warned that "America will not live in peace." Bin Laden's whereabouts remain elusive, but he is thought to be somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan. The FBI has placed a $25 million bounty upon his head.


Bible Gospels - King James Version of the Bible



Anti-American Terrorism and the Middle East by Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin
Nontraditional Warfare- Threats and Responses by William R. Schilling
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Understanding Islam by Yahiya Emerick



Most Wanted Terrorists -<www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/wanted/wanted_terrorists.html>
FBI's Ten Most Wanted - <www.infoplease.com/spot/tenmostwanted.html>
Chechnya Time Line - <psywarsoc.psyborg.co.uk/timeline.html>
Russian History Time Line - <www2.canisius.edu/~emeryg/time.html>
Russia - <www.ru/eng/>
Terrorism - <www.terrorism.com/index.shtml>
Terrorism Around the World  - <www.dvercity.com/magazine_terrorism.html>

Independent Newspaper - www.independent.co.uk 

Email Contacts

Adel Darwish (writer of MidEast News) - adel.darwish@mideastnews.co