Cover image for Saddam's word : political discourse in Iraq
Saddam's word : political discourse in Iraq
Bengio, Ofra.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
ʻIraḳ shel Tsadam. English
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xiii, 266 pages ; 24 cm.
Reading Level:
1420 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS79.7 .B4613 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This is the first serious attempt to understand modern Iraq through a close examination of the political discourse used by the Ba'th regime and its leader, Saddam Hussein. By analyzing political terms, concepts, and idioms as disseminated through the official Iraqi mouthpieces, author OfraBengio illuminates Iraq's political culture and the events that these expressions have both reflected and shaped. Not only does this study add to our understanding of the "Saddam enigma;" it also offers a more universal truth: that under any regime, political culture is built on public discourse.Saddam's Word will be of much interest to students of the contemporary Middle East, as well as to all other observers of Saddam Hussein and his regime.

Author Notes

Ofra Bengio is Senior Research Fellow at Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This book analyzes Iraqi political discourse arising from the Ba'th regime and Saddam Hussein specifically. It is, in effect, a very narrow but deep look at Iraqi public/propaganda posturing, of interest primarily to specialists. The author has conducted a thorough linguistic study without much effort to establish the actual political significance of the word, though in his conclusion he asserts that both government and opposition believe that the word was "the most important instrument for making political culture what it was." The case is not proven, however, and one is reminded of how far the prerevolutionary Iranian public (i.e., propagandistic) discourse was from the reality of revolutionary politics. Nevertheless, an interesting but not definitive study of Ba'thist/Hussein propaganda and its utility in establishing at least one version of the national myth. Graduate and specialized collections only. J. D. Stempel University of Kentucky

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. 3
I Revolution and Revivalp. 17
1 Revolution Thesis and Antithesisp. 19
2 Ba'th The Word and the Partyp. 33
3 Language and Actionp. 49
II From "Popular" to Totalitarian Democracyp. 55
4 The Intricacies Of "Democracy"p. 57
5 An Irreplaceable Regimep. 69
III Unity and Separatismp. 87
6 The Sunni Arabs An Issue of Double Identityp. 89
7 The Shi'Is Loyalty to the Community Or the State?p. 98
8 The Kurds Autonomy or Secession?p. 109
9 The Ba'th Facing Particularism And Secessionp. 121
IV Cycles of Enmityand Violencep. 125
10 Three Cycles of Hostilityp. 146
V Epic and Apocalypsep. 159
12 History as a Lever of Politicsp. 163
13 The Manipulation of Islamp. 176
14 From Islamic Rhetoric To A Vision of Apocalypsep. 192
Conclusion The Rape of Languagep. 203
Notesp. 213
Bibliographyp. 249
Indexp. 259