“Blindly stupid nationalism”

The preceding post on Iraq’s UIA factional balance notwithstanding, I have largely steered clear of Iraq since the halcyon days of the constitution drafting and parliamentary election. That country, and the continued lack of any meaningful debate in my own about how we extricate ourselves from the Bush-Cheney not-so-splendid and not-so-little war are just way too depressing. But, courtesy of the Pithlord, I break the silence just for a moment…

I quote (with my emphasis and his links included):

Anyone who thinks the Democrats will prove better than the Republicans on the whole question of blindly stupid nationalism should read Jim Henley today [15 June]. Seems, the Dems have decided to denounce [Iraqi PM] Maliki’s attempts to co-opt elements of the Sunni insurgency by dangling amnesty. Duncan Black, naturally, takes the hackiest possible line.

Back in those halcyon days that I alluded to, way back when F&V was nothing but row after row of saplings, I frequently noted that the Sunni Arabs had every reason to reject the majoritarian system that was being forced on them by the leadership (and one should use that word loosely here) bequeathed by the American conquest. So, call it “amnesty” or something less charged like settlement, but a deal has to be struck, and, yes, it has to be struck with the goons who have the guns. And if Democrats don’t have the cojones to say that a settlement with the guerrillas is the only way to extricate US forces without precipitating a further debacle and that the open-ended commitment of said forces is a key obstacle to such a settlement, then they deserve to remain in the political wilderness.

It is interesting that the Pithlord chose to use the term, nationalism. Just this morning, while reading a typically depressing LA Times article on the alleged newfound “unity” of Democrats over Iraq, I was thinking about the distinctions among patriotism, nationalism, and jingoism. Perhaps a post for another day, but it reminded me realize that while I certainly am a patriot (would not have that photo of Madison’s home and those quotes from Madison and Jefferson, nor even any USA-related posts at this blog, were I not), I am absolutely, unequivocally not a nationalist. Never, ever. Nationalism is nothing but an excuse for not standing up to governments when they abuse their citizens’ patriotism and lead them into war, authoritarianism, and other scourges in the name of “securing” the nation. Don’t ever let anyone confuse nationalism with patriotism.

Anyway, in that LA Times story by Ronald Brownstein on 24 June, the supposed Democratic leader and presumptive ’08 nominee is quoted thus:

The Democrats may have somewhat different views about how we succeed in Iraq, but we are… unified in fulfilling our constitutional responsibilities to engage in legitimate debate… and to offer honorable, responsible positions.


And this statement occurred after one fifth of her party in the House voted to stay the Bush-Cheney course of slow, painful defeat.

How pathetic and sad that we have an “opposition party” that acts like neither, and is incapable of standing up to a nationalist/jingoist Party of Power that is more akin to its counterparts in authoritarian presidential systems than to the kind needed to guide the handiwork of those great patriots whose deeds we celebrate in just over a week.

I am very pessimistic about 2006. And 2008. And beyond. Will the nationalist/jingoist card played with alacrity by the Party of Power work again? Yes, it very well might.

0 thoughts on ““Blindly stupid nationalism”

  1. To be fair, I don’t suppose the Democrats will ever be as good at exploiting American’s natural and laudable love of country and respect for their military to promote poisoned and unreasoned discourse. But that doesn’t mean they can’t try.

  2. Jesse Walker made the best distinctions among patriotism, nationalism and imperialism that I’ve seen. Per Jesse:

    Patriotism: I love my dad.

    Nationalism: My dad can beat up your dad.

    Imperialism: Here he comes now.

    You can easily swap in “jingoism” for the third item.

    (Thanks for the proxy link.)

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