In This Review

Building Toward Crisis: Saddam's Strategy for Survival
Building Toward Crisis: Saddam's Strategy for Survival
By Amatzia Baram
Washington Institute For Near East Policy, 1998, 156 pp

Baram, one of the best-informed and most diligent scholars of Iraqi politics, has provided a concise analysis of all facets of Saddam Hussein's regime: his family and tribal power base, the army, the Ba'ath Party, the opposition, and the U.N. sanctions regime. Iraqi relations with Syria, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and the Arabian Peninsula are also addressed. His painstaking combing of all available sources -- especially newspapers, radio, and TV -- from this largely closed polity is reminiscent of Sovietologists trying to decipher Stalin's regime. Baram concludes that Saddam, while still weaker than before Desert Storm, has recovered from his period of greatest vulnerability in the mid-1990s and remains well entrenched; meanwhile, his diplomatic maneuvers aim to maintain his domestic power base at all costs. Baram doubts that the international community can maintain multinational containment but nonetheless sees this as the best prospect for keeping Saddam in check.