Reflecting this morning on the war in Iraq and the recent hanging of Saddam Hussein, it strikes me that Bastard Dictators From Hell seem to show up most often in situations where there are plenty of pre-existing tensions, i.e. racial hatred, extremes of poverty and wealth, massive corruption or organized crime so vast and entrenched that it rivals the government in sheer size.
It struck me that this might be a simple extension of the idea put forward in Fahrenheit 911, namely that ever-present fear is a great way of making otherwise rational people elect (and re-elect) conservative assholes, warmongers, and fascists; i.e, whoever most convincingly beats their chest and screams like a silverback.
If your surrounds are filled with the actual threat of imminent war, and people really are doing their best to kill you, burn your homes, rape your daughters and take your land, this kind of stunt is going to be much easier to pull.
I don’t know enough about the background and rise to power of (for example) Saddam Hussein to really make a cogent wrap of this: Did he gain power, even in part, because he made a convincing claim to be able to Keep The Peace(tm)?
Or, as is entirely possible, have I just been over-reading the shiny V for Vendetta comics that E got me for Christmas? 🙂