I posted this on another thread but it's fits here better. Nationalism is alive and well in the Arab world at a much more disturbing degree....
I found this opinion at the Sydney Morning Herald website
Rise of a dangerous nationalism
April 7 2003
Iraq doesn't exist. Not as a real country. Not in the real world, where people live their daily lives, as distinct from the legal world defined by lines on maps, treaties and seats at the United Nations General Assembly.
On March 20, 2003, when the US military began to pulverise Saddam Hussein's power structure, this country, which for centuries was known as Mesopotamia (it was named Iraq in 1921) became no more than what it really is, an unstable and accidental amalgam between a Kurdistan in the north, a Shiite Arab enclave in the south, and a rump that for the past 25 years could best be described as Saddamistan.
The day the US and British troops began to topple the statues and liquidate Saddam's occupation force, brutal absolutism gave way to the underlying tribal realities which do not follow the lines on the map written by departed colonial powers. During the past 90 years, what we call Iraq has switched from being part of Turkey's Ottoman Empire, to a British- controlled mandate, to a kingdom under a monarchy created by the British, to a "republic" controlled by generals, to a fiefdom ruled by a warlord, to a federation functioning as an American-British military protectorate.
After just two weeks, all that remains of Saddamistan is a shrinking, ranting, desperate, isolated rump collapsing down to its essence - guns, terror and hatred. There's nothing else left.
Oil wealth: gone. Economy: gone. Territory: almost gone. Ports: gone. Airports: gone. Border control: gone. Credibility: gone. Ideals: never existed.
Until a few days ago, 20 million Iraqis were trapped inside this primitive, atavistic kleptocracy, where basic freedoms existed only at the whim of criminal gangs. The national sport was torture. This kleptocracy has been dismantled with what can only be described as extraordinary precision given the huge forces unleashed in the process.
While an entire standing army has been demolished up and down the country, the civilian casualty rate has been of an order of magnitude of around .005 per cent of the population. Prior to the invasion, the percentage of truncated, fearful lives of Iraqis was of a magnitude of 99 per cent of the population. Not even the army's generals were immune from execution.
If the coalition forces can move quickly to normalise the economy - get the oilfields pumping, the food-for-oil program working, the markets full, a sense of personal freedom flowing - it would leave the remnants of Saddamistan trapped like caged animals inside their self-made cage, knowing that if the Americans don't kill them for their reign of terror, the people they terrorised surely will.
The problem with this end-game was always going to be the hostages to history in Baghdad. So long as it can hide behind this human shield, Saddamistan can appeal to its one remaining source of strength, a source of power which has grown stronger, not weaker, even as the regime has been destroyed.
Saddam may be deluded, paranoid, monomaniacal and incompetent but he knows one thing that his mortal American enemy, George Bush, does not seem to know: that he can count on the most powerful force in the Middle East today: Arab pride.
Ethnic solidarity, not Islamic fundamentalism, is the force driving continued support for Saddamistan and hatred of the US.
The emotional drive and intellectual energy comes from something deeper than espousing the righteous of Islam - the sense of rage that the Middle East is being colonised all over again, an anger exacerbated by self-pity, envy and racism. It takes precedence over all other narratives, including Islam, including even the atrocities committed by Saddamistan against Arabs on a large scale.
Anything that seriously contradicts this message is airbrushed out of history, and a truly awe-inspiring amount of airbrushing is going on in the Arab media. Resistance by Saddam's loyalists is portrayed as an intifada, and thus mass-murderers become victims. Two Muslim uprisings were butchered in Saddamistan, which has killed or tortured a million Muslims, but it is America that is waging war against Islam.
Saddamistan acquired enough chemical weapons to kill everyone on the planet, and used them repeatedly, but America's precision-guided weapons are the "weapons of mass destruction". Mosques are used as military installations by Saddam's forces, while US and British forces refrain from firing on mosques, but allied forces are desecrating holy ground.
Saddam exhorts people to become martyrs of jihad while he hides deep inside a bunker, but he is the one brave Arab leader. International law is paramount, unless Arab nations are invading Israel in defiance of the United Nations.
The condition of the Palestinians is paramount, unless they are trying to emigrate to Arab countries. And the 900,000 Jews driven from Arab countries since 1948 have been conveniently airbrushed out of history completely. This is the only narrative possible. It takes precedence over sovereignty, over any lines on the map, especially as many of those lines are the legacies of colonialism, such as those dividing Iraq and Kuwait, Syria and Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the four-nation territory of the Kurds and the white-hot lines dividing Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.
Pan-Arab or pan-Islamic nationalism is also championed by the Arab media because it invokes an era when Arab culture was greater that the culture of the West. As Professor Richard Bulliet of Columbia University wrote in Policy magazine last year: "Because Muslims retain a historical memory of being unified under a caliphate - a powerful state predicated on Islamic teachings - the dream of Islamic political unity will not disappear."
These faultlines are shuddering from the earthquake started by President Bush. Nowhere are the reverberations felt more than at the House of Saud, America's most important strategic asset in the Middle East (Israel is a more powerful military ally but also an enormous strategic liability). Paradoxically, the two-faced House of Saud is also the greatest financier of the brand of Islam that extolls jihad. It is no accident that Saudi Arabia provided 15 of the 19 suicide bombers for the September 11 catastrophe, produced Osama bin Laden, and the suicide bomber who killed an Australian cameraman in the first week of the war.
While Saudi Arabia's leadership is opposed to the war and actively supporting it, there are numerous credible reports that the corrupt, corpulent House of Saud is increasingly in danger of becoming a victim of the Islamic fundamentalism it has so assiduously financed. That would change the world.
This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/...567567942.html