Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Dictators and Information: The handy Robert Lane Greene, in TNR, wonders whether Saddam gets a clear picture of what's going on in the war.
Democratic governments are often criticized for being inefficient. Hopelessly subservient to a capricious and ill-informed electorate, decision-makers must make ugly compromises and short-sighted policy. But the upshot is that democracies tend to put a premium on shared, high-quality information, honest analysis, and open internal debate--the absence of which, if Nazi Germany is any indication, can be disastrous. Instigating perpetual terror may be a good way to amass power, but it turns out to be a bad way to run a government.
Thus, he speculates that Saddam, like Hitler, may only get news that reflects favorably on the bearer. Does Saddam, he asks, believe his own propaganda?

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