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Iraqi Expat

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Are We Patriotic?

I think many Iraqis are not; but let’s examine it and maybe I will change my mind by the end of this post.

What is patriotism? Patriotism is a feeling of love and devotion to one's own homeland. Generally, any selfless act that directly benefits the nation is considered patriotic.

If we look at our modern history, three leaders stand out; Saddam Hussein, Abdul Karim Qassim, and Nuri as-Said.

Is Saddam patriotic? I am certain, without a shadow of a doubt, that some Iraqis and many Arabs will say yes he is. But how is that possible, I say? And they would answer with some Arab-Nationlism, anti-American, anti-Zionist rhetoric, and that to them is patriotism. But in all that, where is the selflessness and the benefit of the nation? Nowhere, it’s not important. Did Saddam benefit Iraq? No, he benefited himself, his family and his henchmen. Was Iraq any better because of him? No, the world, including all Arab nations, moved forwards and Iraq moved backwards. Are those who worked with him patriotic? Of course not, they did it to benefit themselves.

If Saddam had any patriotism, he would not have forced the Iraqi people to go through three wars.

Abdul Karim Qassim, was he patriotic? Well, this is a tricky one. Many will claim he was. He died without owning anything, he slept in his office in the Ministry of Defence and he used to give half his salary to his sister to cook lunches for him, and these lunches contained no meat because the money was not enough. So he acted with unselfishness; however, Al Mahdawi court witnessed many injustices during his short reign and most those who were convicted in that court were sentenced to die.

What scares me about Qassim’s, Saddam’s and many other Iraqis’ version of patriotism is that they believe that they know what is best for the country and therefore they believe they have the right to rule that country. They act upon their belief and kill anyone who disagrees with them.

Do they know what is best for the country? Or what is best for them and their clan or their faction? What does Iraq mean to them? Does it mean it is their country and it should become best suited for them? Are the rest of the Iraqis not really Iraqis, or they shouldn’t live there?

If any of them was really patriotic he would have acted on the countries best interest, in general; and not their faction’s or their idea’s best interest.

Nuri as-Said, was he patriotic? Well, I believe he was; simply because he acted for the country’s best interest. Al Baath Party told us that he was to be considered a traitor because he was a strong supporter of the British and the west; and therefore, many Iraqis do consider him a traitor. He became the prime minister of Iraq many times, including the first and the last before Qassim’s coup. And while being a PM, he was overthrown few times by those who thought they know what it best of Iraq! He signed the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty in 1930 which led to Iraq’s independence in 1932, and he also signed Baghdad Pact in 1955 with Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Britian, while Jordan refused to join.

He was pro-Western, and that’s why he was a traitor! Does it sound familiar?

Is patriotism only restricted to those who believe in pan-Arabism? What if the nation’s best interest is to be pro-Western? Isn’t patriotism acting for the nation’s best interest? Well, Saddam and his Baath Party taught us that any pro-Western stance is traitorous, even if it is in the nation’s best interest.

Therefore, some Iraqis do not know what patriotism is. Some believe that being anti-Western is patriotism, no matter whether it is good or bad for the nation. That is what we’ve been told.

Let’s say that I hate America, Israel and the west in general. Let’s also assume that I believe in all the conspiracy theories that incriminate America, Israel and the west in general. And let’s assume that I think that all our misfortunes are cause by America, Israel and the west in general.

That said, I still hate and despise all the Baathists and their supporters. But above all, I hate Saddam, his family and his henchmen. Or do these contradict with the above?

If I am patriotic, then Iraq’s best interest would certainly be my priority, right? Having got rid of Saddam is definitely something I should be happy about, right? But believing in conspiracy theories and hating the west is a hurdle. If Iraq’s best interest forces me to work with the west then I have to choose either to love Iraq more than anything and ignore my feelings about the west, or to hell with Iraq because I can’t stop loathing the west.

So, which is it? Do I love Iraq more, or hate the west more? And is it in Iraq’s best interest to work with America?

From looking at Iraq’s history and the damage it caused, I strongly believe that we need the west to help us rebuild Iraq. But, my hate to the west tells me that I should not work with them and I should say we can depend on ourselves and we can do it without help. But then again, if we can, why didn’t we do it before? Why didn’t the top Baathists advice on making Iraq democratic? Why didn’t Qassim or Arif or Al Bakir do it? Because once they sit on the chair, they think they can do it all by themselves. Because they think they know what is best and to hell with what Iraqis think.

Now that could be debatable; but let’s look around us, is there any country in our region, apart from Israel which I am suppose to be hating right now, that has a democracy? But why? Can Arab not do it on their on? Do they always have to be pressured by the west to do what is best for the country and the people, i.e. to become patriotic?

Why we don’t want to be pressured and forced to implement democracy? Because then it proves that our government don't care about the people and the country as much as they care about their seat and what they think is right and best.

Maybe it is that male thing that makes us prefer to get lost than to ask for directions, only Arabs have it ten times more than the rest of the world! I call it the fake-pride, and we have a lot of that in the Middle East.

So, back to Iraq’s best interest; if I want democracy and I have doubts that we can achieve it, plus there is this idea that scares me about someone thinking that he knows what is best for the country and decides to fight the rest to rule the country, which is what the terrorists are doing now, then I think we need the west, America and the rest of the world to help us pass this and build a new free and democratic Iraq for all, and not only for a specific faction.

But I hate the west! So do I love Iraq more? Do you? I do, and therefore I am willing to ignore my hate. And maybe when Iraq becomes free, stable and democratic then I will start hating the west again; but for now Iraq’s best interest is above any other feeling I have. But that is not how most Iraqis think! Many Iraqis either they hate the west more than any love they have for Iraq, or they believe that to become patriotic you must be anti-Western pro-Arab!

The world knows that America is divided; left and right. It was also divided in early 2001, was it not? But what happened after 9/11? All Americans put aside there differences and stood together as one nation. They all rallied behind their leader, his approval ratings reached 90% and they supported their troops when they went to Afghanistan to get the perpetrators. There is not better example to show what patriotism means.

Iraq is being attacked by terrorists who want nothing other than to destroy the country and kill innocent people, yet still some Iraqis sympathise with these terrorists. Is this patriotic? Is killing Iraqis, sabotaging oil pipelines and construction, patriotism? How is that going to help Iraq? Please, someone explain to me. Of course, it is not about what is good for Iraq, but what is good for a group of Iraqis who think that they own Iraq and they know what is best for Iraq.

Probably Saddam would consider it the highest degree of patriotism; but not me, not the eight millions who voted, not the victims of Saddam and his wars, not the victims of these terrorists and their atrocities. No they are not patriotic, they are destroying the country, and their supporters are not patriotic too.

I believe that most Iraqis are against these terrorists. But a year ago, the terrorists had much more support than what they have now; and the reason because of the messed up concept of patriotism that we’ve been taught. Many Iraqis thought and believed that these are not terrorists but pure patriotic Iraqis who were fighting the occupation.

And today, even though most Iraqis are against the terrorists; there are still Iraqis who can’t put Iraq’s best interest before their feelings. When you think of what is best for your faction before thinking of what is best for Iraq then you are being less patriotic. Iraq’s best interest is not to make it best for Shiites, or Sunnis, or Muslims, or Christians, or Arabs, or Kurds, or Turkmen, etc; but to make it best for all. Now how many Iraqis think that way? Sadly, I think the minority thinks that way. And I hope I am wrong; but if I am not, then our future depends on the enlightened minority and the west.

If we agree that patriotism as the love, devotion and the selfless act that benefits the whole nation and all its factions; then I must say that Iraqis lack patriotism. And I don’t care for the act to be selfless as much as I care for it to be for the good of Iraq and all its faction.

Having said we lack patriotism, or we have a messed up concept of patriotism; I must say that does not mean there aren’t any. No, there are many patriotic Iraqis, certainly the eight million who went out to vote are patriotic enough to risk there lives and vote, and the Police and the National Guard who are trying their best to protect Iraq and its people; but still not enough, still we have a lot of Iraqis who have a messed up concept of patriotism that allows them to kill their own people.

I find it funny that some people think that it is insulting to brand an American as patriotic or super-patriotic! If we were as patriotic as the Americans who put aside their differences and stood together when they were attacked, we wouldn’t be in this mess! In fact, if we were as patriotic as them, Saddam would not have found enough Iraqis to support him in the first place!


Blogger Fayrouz said...

Wow, this is really a great post.

The following quote answered many questions in my mind:
"Maybe it is that male thing that makes us prefer to get lost than to ask for directions, only Arabs have it ten times more than the rest of the world! I call it the fake-pride, and we have a lot of that in the Middle East."

May 13, 2005 12:56 am  
Blogger dcat said...


Interesting synopsis of the social sect with patriotism included.

Everyone is screwed up in one way or another no one is perfect even though they think they are. Some rather just let someone think a certain way just to go on. It takes too much effort to tell them otherwise. It is a hard job to do and it seems people back off instead of move forward to change. That is when logic and strong influence is the key. People are sheep. The bible said this there for it must be true.

I think I had too much rock and rye in my tea tonight. :)

May 13, 2005 7:01 am  
Blogger Goesh said...

A well written piece, Ahmad.

May 13, 2005 12:11 pm  
Blogger FLORA said...

This is beautiful. It describes the human condition of having to make choices, and be known for those choices we make. Its hard to make unpopular choices.
Its hard to live with integrity.
Its hard to ask directions, after your wife already told you to, and you said you didnt need them.

I think the hardest thing to do is admit you were wrong, or when you are right, let others take the wrong path, as is thier choice, while doing nothing to stop them.

It gives me a deep sense of brotherhood with you, to read your words. Ahmad, we are all people, and very much alike, only the names and places change. This piece was good work, thoughtful, and well written. I wish High school students in the US could read this article, then discuss what this means to them.

May 13, 2005 8:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your posts just keep getting better and better. Good stuff for everyone to ponder about, and I might just ask for directions the next time I am lost. :)

May 13, 2005 8:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bijit !

May 14, 2005 2:06 am  
Blogger Kat said...

It's called "cutting your nose off to spite your face" in the US.

People will frequently do that in a fit of pride. Choose to do something they know will hurt them or not help them simply to get back at someone or something.

It's fairly common in the human race. It just stinks when it's a group thing.

May 14, 2005 3:47 am  
Blogger Akba said...

nice post Ahmad, very insightful. and very true.

May 14, 2005 3:17 pm  
Blogger dcat said...


If you would have had a town like Chicago, Saddam would have strangely disappeared either behind a bricked room or the bottom of the lake with cement!

I just had to come back here and read it again this was a good post!

May 14, 2005 9:17 pm  
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April 22, 2010 4:50 am  
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