05/03/2021 (Mon) 04:03:12
The answer is always the same: read the primary sources.
Saddam spelled out his theories in the "little green book", which was written to be accessible to ordinary people. Whether this reflects the reality of Saddam's views is far easier to judge in hindsight than when the book was published and you can judge for yourself. Saddam is often considered to be an "Arab socialist" or a "third position" figure- but both exist in the context of the wave of Arab socialism that culminated in the US invasion of Afghanistan. Saddam, Ghadaffi, Assad- all were arab socialists and all were independently invaded by foreign powers. Saddam emphasized modernization, infrastructure, non-oil cooperation of gulf states, nationalization of primary resources and national banking. He believed the oil resources of Iraq must be held by the state because they would give private entities undue domestic power, and must be protected from foreign powers. He saw peace coming only when gulf states had enough to gain cooperating in the non-oil trade that they were no longer motivated to enter zero-sum conflicts over oil export, and to this ends started a massive infrastructure boom. He was a brutal man, responsible for mass killings, assassinations and a range of atrocities- but saw this as a purge of imperialists. In the context of rolling coups, foreign hegemony and general lawlessness he saw this as a necessary evil, development could not come without stability, stability could not come without violence. Domestically he battled with the realpolitik of ethnic and religious divides in Iraq that blurred the lines of state control and national borders, sectarianism was a constant source of conflict between neighbor states. Saddam was a Sunni, and his government was a fairly elitist group of Arabs who were a minority in Iraq- but his rule was secular; this was a considerable achievement by any standards and would have made attaturk proud. Shi'ite radicalism was growing at this time, with non-state millitaries like the kurds openly attacking the state- the Kurds have long been used as a proxy for various foreign powers. Eventually the radical shiites overthrew the Iranian government and this conflict quickly spread along sectarian lines to Iraq. Saddam sought support from Arab states, but this only drew his government into deeper sectarian conflict and his campaign against Kurdish rebels led to an invasion by the new Iranian Shi'ite republic which triggered the Iran-Iraq war. Much is contested about this period with ever side accusing the other of being in league with the CIA. The Iran-Iraq war crippled both countries and left Iraq heavily endebted to Arab states who funded their war effort when Iran succeeded in destroying most of Iraq's oil infrastructure- Instead of unifying as Arabs, or as socialists there was disunity and anger, which opened the door for the same foreign imperialist interventions that the Shi'ites threw out the Shah in their revolution to stop, and that Saddam ultimately opposed.