EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman knows he has to transform the state into a war machine if the kingdom is to survive the Iranian onslaught. To do that, he has to amass power by removing the system of checks and balances of rival princely factions and tribal affiliations as well as a security system that is weakened by both. The question is whether he will be able to avoid the fate of the Shah, who transformed Iran into a regional power but fell victim to wall-to-wall opposition bred by his concentration of power.
Even in the US, a nation that enshrines its system of checks and balances, which limits executive power and mitigates the risk of tyranny, there has always been broad recognition that in times of imminent and vast external danger, a War Powers Act must be passed to allow the executive great powers to face the challenge. A well-known legal classic on the theme was aptly entitled “Constitutional Dictatorship.”