Chapter

Liberal Legacies, Europe’s Totalitarian Era, and the Iraq War

Jeffrey Herf

in A Matter of Principle

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780520244863
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932166 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520244863.003.0003
Liberal Legacies, Europe’s Totalitarian Era, and the Iraq War

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This chapter attempts to discuss the parallelisms between Europe's era of totalitarianism and the regime of Saddam Hussein. The historical irony of the war that overthrew Iraqi totalitarianism is that most liberals on both sides of the Atlantic opposed it, despite the fact that Saddam Hussein's Baath regime had ideological lineages and affinities to the fascist and Nazi regimes of Europe midcentury. Yet liberals and conservatives based their judgments, in part, on a set of the then commonly held assertions about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs. It is believed that the Baath Party also drew heavily on the European legacies of French fascism and Nazism. Like the preceding tyrannies of the extreme right, Saddam's Iraq rested on a leadership principle focused on a supreme leader held to be infallible and the use of terror against anyone who challenged his authority.

Keywords: totalitarianism; Saddam Hussein; Iraq; Baath regime; French fascism; Europe; Nazism

Chapter.  7490 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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