The reality of dictatorships: they are obtuse

Alexander Stille, a professor at Columbia, published a fascinating historical essay in the oped section of the New York Times, What a Murder by Mussolini Teaches Us About Khashoggi and M.B.S: The murder of Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis has striking parallels with the murder of the Italian socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti by Fascist thugs.”

But beyond the lesson, Stille’s first two paragraphs, especially the second, lifted me above our present reality and reminded me why we can cling to more than hope: we can stand firm in historical reality:

In the weeks after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Istanbul, a question has been repeatedly asked: How could the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, be so reckless as to sanction this horrifying murder carried out in such a clumsy and shameless fashion?

The answer, I think, is that dictatorships are inherently obtuse. Dictators live in their own self-created bubble of adulation and impunity, which leads them to huge misjudgments when they are forced to act outside of the bubble.




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