An Iraqi nationalist party is needed

There are many great points made in this article by Jude Wanniski. Let's get our feet wet:

When it comes to the elections held in Iraq on 30 January, the greatest confusion among the American people is in failing to understand Iraqi nationhood.

There are practically no US citizens who think of themselves as being Protestant, Catholic or Jewish before they think of themselves as Americans.

When it comes to Iraq, though, Americans have been educated to think that all Iraqis think of themselves first as members of a Muslim sect, and only then as Iraqis.

The difference is crucial, in that the erroneous assumption is leading President George Bush, the US government, and American intellectuals on a path that ends with a break-up of Iraq into three independent states, one Kurdish, one Sunni and one Shia.

Iraqi nationalism is indeed a force that has been both misrepresented by the media and underplayed as an important concept in civil life. By keeping the fabric of civil life in Iraq so torn for so long, it feels as though this American administration has designs on destroying Iraqi nationalism. I could be wrong, but this could be a part of the grand plan for the region. I think Iraqi nationalism is stronger than such designs though. Good luck trying to destroy it. Because in the end...I'm telling you: there is no way. Simple as that folks.

Also, this will be a great segue into the NY Times book. I believe in many ways the NY Times not only misreports US foreign policy. It also tries to pull the ol' this is reality to the masses, when in fact...it's NOT! For instance:

While the influential newspaper The New York Times editorially inveighed against such division after the elections, its commentary pages have been hospitable to those who are advocates for division.

On 1 February, Peter Galbraith, a long-time advocate of Kurdish independence, was given the lead space in paper to repeat his call for division.

The very next day, Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, repeated his argument that "the only workable government would be a confederation with three largely autonomous regions".

I might have been of a similar mind had it not been for my contacts in the US intelligence community who assured me that the most powerful political force in Iraq is nationalism, not sectarianism, and this explains the election turnout better than anything we have been reading and seeing in the news media.

The "S-Factor"
...or "The Sadr Factor"...or "The Whether You Like It Or Not Factor": No matter what you think of Muqtada Al-Sadr, he has shaped up to be quite the fiesty nationalist. And because he is from such an influential family, people will also gravitate toward him. Moreover and with my deductive reasoning at its dullest, I have the feeling that if things get really rough with more electricity and water cuts, lack of security and martial law, not to mention the fact that there are no jobs and schools are still in complete disrepair...then you have a recipe for (drum roll)...A NATIONALIST UPRISING! And that's when the troops will get kicked out of Iraq. So, improve Iraqis lives or face the ultimate consequences. Yea, I said it. And many Iraqis out there know it's true...and don't even try to tell me I'm a "firebrand cleric sympathizer". Because one of the very last things I want is mass chaos in the streets. The situation now will seem like a complete cake-walk to what could develop. And that's why I stay up night after night after day after day blogging (when I have the chance... even when I don't have the chance), trying to get some word out about the possible hysteria we could be facing. And then if Iran happens? Forget about the "Roadmap" in Palestine and Israel. And probably forget about oil getting out of the gulf, too. The possibilities for the region and the world are frightening. Perhaps it's being too sensitive to the issues and too pessimistic for some to stomach. But frankly, I don't give a rat's ass. That's how I feel and I'm gonna say it until it gets through somebody's--even one person's--head.

And yes, I'm an Iraqi Nationalist damnit! I'm American too! So screw my shoe. And I'm an American Nationalist in many ways, yet so so ashamed of this awful excuse for a government. I don't like the way things are headed at all. Where are our Thomas Paines??? Where are our Martin Luther King Jrs??? Ted Kennedy or John Kerry are supposed to fill such large shoes? Sorry, no dice.

"Say huh?! I'm confus'ed...Iraqi Nationalist and American Nationalist? How is that possible?" Well, IF you could push the little daisies up through your skulls maybe you'd realize WE live in a globalised world. And I am a product of the process our world is going through each day. You better get used to it baby. Like Hanan Ashrawi said...let's have a more humanized globalisation. And I hope I see the day where there is some form of global democracy. Then I'll know my children will be safer then I can imagine them being at the moment.

So, the Iraqi electorate...yes, I like the sound of that (esp. when it means something...unfortunately now, it doesn't mean as much as it eventually should). So, the Iraqi electorate were offered essentially sectarian slates of anonymous candidates to elect in order to form their constitution. This is a dangerous game that is being played out. I guarantee it.

Here's Wanniski again:

Stephen Pelletiere, a former CIA analyst of Middle East affairs who has been following developments while in retirement, some years ago explained to me that for most of Iraq's history since the break-up of the Ottoman Empire after the second world war, sectarianism was the rule, nationalism only nascent.

It will, of course, look like a puppet government to the insurgents.
It was only during the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran that nationhood took root and blossomed, as Shia, Sunnis, Kurds and Turkmen fought shoulder to shoulder to defend their secular government against Tehran's call for Shia fundamentalism in a theocratic state.

I believe this is true, or the people of Iraq of all sects would not have submitted to the cost in lives to defeat the Iranians. And that includes the Kurds, 85% of whom fought against Tehran's attempt at the time to spread theocratic fundamentalism across the Islamic universe.

It is true that early in the war, many Iraqi Shia deserted to the Iranian side, believing they would be welcomed with open arms, but they were thrown in POW camps instead.

As Iraqi and Iranian Shia encountered and killed each other in battles over Shia cities such as Basra, the spirit of nationalism must have taken hold as the Iraqi soldiers chose to defend the homeland instead of laying down their arms to welcome their "fellow" Shia from Iran.

With this perspective, it immediately becomes clear why the elections were essentially meaningless: The way the balloting was constructed, there was no venue for an expression of Iraqi nationalism. There was no nationalist party.

The electorate was offered essentially sectarian slates, and even those were created either by Iraqi exiles who had sided with Iran during the war that gave birth to Iraqi nationalism, or which were identified with clerics such as Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, an Iranian by birth who will be biased in favour of a theocratic state or something close to it.

The only nationalist on the scene, the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, sat out the election and so did his nationalist followers. The American press played it incorrectly as a boycott by Sunni Muslims, but it was rather an abstention by Iraqi nationalists. Al-Sadr is of course a Shia, but first and foremost he is a nationalist.

The New York Times reported for several weeks that al-Sadr was negotiating with Ahmad Chalabi, another Iraqi exile who had sided with Tehran in the war, but obviously nothing came of that.

It was preposterous in any event to think al-Sadr would team up with a man he would have to see as a quisling. Chalabi not only teamed with the Iranians, but was an architect of the American war against his own country.

The very idea that the American-appointed prime minister of the interim government, Iyad Allawi, would hold a similar post in the new government arising out of the elections is ridiculous, but of course that is what the Bush administration is negotiating to achieve.

It would simply confirm to the Iraqi nationalists that the US agenda is a permanent imperialist outpost in Baghdad, to manage the oil regions and protect Israel against any threats real or imagined, come what may.

One of the things we always tend to forget when we get "good news" from Iraq, as there appears to be with the voter turnout, is that as bad as Saddam Hussein may have been in his 30 years in power, the number of Iraqi men, women and children who died as a result of US sanctions and war - to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction that it did not have - is in the order of one million, or one out of every 20.

The way the balloting was constructed, there was no venue for an expression of Iraqi nationalism. There was no nationalist party.
This is why Americans had to hope the weapons inspectors would find WMD and the imminent threat they would pose to the region and the world. That alone would have undermined the anti-war arguments and given justification for the invasion and the dozen years of killing sanctions.

The president and supporters of the war can celebrate the election, but they in no way alter the facts on the ground. The election was meaningless.

AND NO, okay...I don't believe the elections were entirely meaningless. They were certainly psychically significant for a great number of people. And that I am both happy and proud of...but that's NOT the point people. It's how elections were constructed and made out to be the savior of the people. Sorry, but elections cannot feed a single person. Not yet. That's only for highly developed social welfare states in Scandanavia, isn't it? In fact, as we've seen, some people were threatened with their already meager food rations to be taken away if they DIDN'T vote. Do you believe that crap?

Ok. I might as well put the rest of "Hey" Jude's article:

I have rarely agreed with Senator Ted Kennedy on any major issue, but he is positively correct when he says there will be no chance of improvement in Iraq until the United States is gone.

The internet is now bristling with reminders of Vietnam and how the national elections there in September 1967 offered so much promise of victory. For example:

US Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
by Peter Grose, Special to The New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept 3 - United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here. Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president….

Before the results of the presidential election started to come in, the American officials warned that the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the polling place would be open for two or three hours less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of 83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62 per cent.

What do I expect now? It will be another several days before the interim government announces the election results and some while before the prime minister and vice presidents are chosen.

It will, of course, look like a puppet government to the insurgents. Can it be turned around? Perhaps, but that would take a nationalist movement, the likes of which we have not yet seen emerge.

Jude Wanniski is a former associate editor of The Wall Street Journal, expert on supply-side economics and founder of Polyconomics, which helps to interpret the impact of political events on financial markets.

Let me ask you a few questions: What would you do if you were invaded by a foreign force and things got worse and worse? Now, what would you do if you invaded yourself? Although all the dissonance I experience on a daily basis is real, my mind is clear. How? It takes some work, but I manage. I wouldn't be of any use to anybody if I let myself lose focus of what matters. And I'm personally not experiencing half of the agony many Iraqis are currently experiencing. But because I have a great deal of family that are indeed going through each and every terrifying moment of this insane war, I have a large stake in it. And I take my privelege of living the life I do seriously. Who said that wise thing..."If we can change ourselves, we can change the world"? So like wittle bitty Samwise Gamgee (sp?) in the toughest of times, I believe there is some good left that is worth saving...in both myself and others. And I'm trying my best to do my part first inside, then out,


An Iraqi nationalist party is needed


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