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For a criminal regime to survive and thrive, it has to look deadly serious. So you know it’s in dire distress when it has to resort to sending in the clowns.

The most classic instance of this, as we all vividly recall, was Saddam Hussein’s employment of the man dubbed ‘Comical Ali’ for the ludicrous lies he told about the ‘victories’ of the Butcher of Baghdad, even as defeat was plainly evident for the whole world to see on TV.

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