Saddam lived in fear of a coup mounted by the Republican Guard. His solution was to create the Special Republican Guard, whose main remit was to protect him against coups particularly from the Republican Guard.    You would think that the head of this outfit would be a fearsome figure who would terrify any budding coup plotters.  Woods asked other leading figures if this was indeed the case and the answer was a resounding NO!  Why?  Saddam was well aware of the “who monitors the monitor problem” – what if the head of the Special Guard mounted a coup himself?  Saddam’s solution was not original: appoint a relative.  Make sure the appointee is a coward so he would not dream of mounting a coup.  Just in case he is tougher than you might think, choose someone stupid so he cannot mount a successful coup and is too stupid  to recognize someone else’s good ideas for a coup.

A couple of days ago, I posted a link to an essay about the Gervais Principle. Saddam Hussein had clearly internalized this principle, as he (a sociopath) promoted a member of the clueless class to a key position to mitigate personal risk.