Saddam Hussein: he wasn’t a psychopath—as many think. When Saddam visited a torture chamber he saw an elderly man being tortured, stopped, and said, “Let him go, he is a good man.” The man, an Iraqi-Jew caught in a sweep against Zionist spies, was elated to be released and fled the country—his release was no whim, Saddam recognised the man from when he sold cigarettes as a boy; the elderly man used to tip him handsomely on the way to work. What this proves is that Saddam was no psychopath—a psychopath would not have been able to recognise kindness done to him and reward it in a congruent way. He would have just walked past the old man—Saddam didn’t, ergo he was no psychopath.
That’s not to say Saddam wasn’t brutal—but he wasn’t stupid. For some reason, there’s an idea circulating that his IQ was 85-95—frankly, no way. Doubtless his real IQ is on file, was taken when the Americans captured him—and perhaps someone should put in a FOIA request for it. Saddam might have been taken to have a low IQ because the Arabs, being quite friendly, often seem bumbling or incompetent to Europeans—they’re just warmer people, that’s all (they’re like the Mediterraneans—they cry more easily, but also stab you more easily too).
However, Saddam played a very long game in the Ba’ath Party—specifically refusing executive offices to appear humble but really to build a support base behind the scenes. He was in the party’s centre when the party was beset by left-right divisions—that’s because Saddam was always a realist first and a believer second. His disciplined strategy indicates high intelligence—as does his ability to hold together a country that had previously been beset by yearly coups. Few had the competence and the guile to maintain power—Saddam’s regular purges (of Zionist spies, among others) just represented a sound survival strategy, not nascent paranoia. Saddam held the fractious country together.