Foreign Occupation and National Pride: The Case of Iraq
Investigators from such disparate fields as public opinion research and comparative history agree that foreign occupation tends to provoke nationalist awareness. Engaging this growing body of literature, we focus on the affective side of nationalism—the feeling of national pride—and argue that foreign domination by itself does not necessarily incite this feeling among all members of the population under occupation. Rather, (a) the perception of the occupation held by the public is related to national pride, and (b) this perception is anchored in communal attributes. A survey of Iraqis (N=2,700) in 2004 found that the only common factor that is linked to national pride for the Sunnis, Shi’is, and Kurds is attitude against foreign Muslim militants. In addition, for the Sunnis, it was linked to attitudes against foreign presence and in favor of the Baath party. For the Shi’is, national pride was inversely related to their attitudes toward American moral values. For the Kurds, national pride is linked to attitudes toward the political issues over which the Sunnis and Shi’is have consensus—attitudes against foreign presence and disbanding the former Iraqi army, and a rejection of American moral values. Implications for the study of national pride are discussed.
Countries of focus: Iraq, United States of America.