Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Wednesday, October 22, 2003
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The War On Nationalism


It is interesting and instructive to compare the 19th-century British subjugation of India, a country 10 times the size of Britain, with a mere 75,000 expeditionary troops transported across oceans with slow sailing ships, with the quagmire the United States is facing in Iraq with 100,000 air-lifted combat soldiers. The British did not claim to liberate India from its numerous principalities ruled by maharajas. Instead, it built a political unit in the British Empire to incorporate the separate princely states that had existed in pre-British India. There was no sudden regime change. The British did not face resistance until decades later, when the adverse effect of being non-white subjects of the British Empire dawned on thinking Indians, who gradually took up the European concept of nationalism as an anti-imperialism ideology...

The new proponents of "empire" would do well to note that the world has changed since the Victorian era. Arab nationalism, promoted first by Western imperialism during World War I as a destabilizing force against the Ottoman Dominion, is a genie that cannot be forced back into the bottle at the pleasure of neo-imperialism in the 21st century.

The Iraqi army has been destroyed by the second Iraq War...Resistance in the form of guerrilla attacks against foreign occupation is now being waged by an aroused civilian population. Not only Sunni loyalists to Saddam, but Shi'ites, who constitute some 60 percent of the population and were expected by US "experts" on Iraq to be tolerant, if not ecstatic, about a US "presence", if not liberation, have formed guerrilla cells of armed resistance against US occupation forces. This is understandable, since the United States has made clear that it will not permit a Shi'ite majority to dominate any new Iraqi government, democracy or no democracy.

We're not fighting terrorists, we're fighting nationalists. History has show that's a fight we cannot win. In the end it could destroy us.


[Update: The article's author, Henry C K Liu, wrote another piece about the war back in April which I think is instructive to look back on: The war that may end the age of superpower. I also wrote a little bit on the history of imperial overreach at OSP last month: In Search Of Monsters To Destroy.] 

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