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From Developmental Nationalism to the End of Nation-State in Iraq?

Martin Bunton
Third World Quarterly
Vol. 29, No. 3, Developmental and Cultural Nationalisms (2008), pp. 631-646
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20455061
Page Count: 16
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From Developmental Nationalism to the End of Nation-State in Iraq?
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Abstract

This article argues that a strong form of developmental nationalism lay at the root of the consolidation of the nation-state in Iraq. The Islamic communal and cultural nationalisms which came with the failures of developmentalism and the slide towards progressively liberal economic policy were exacerbated successively by the privations of war with Iran, the sanctions regime and the ongoing civil war. The last, in particular, casts doubt on the continuation of the Iraqi nation-state. Iraq may thus represent the direst unfolding of the transition from developmental to cultural nationalisms threatening the end of the nation-state itself. Drawing on comparisons with the economic strategies of other Middle Eastern states--where the politics of nationalism were highly implicated in the development agendas of the 1950s and 1960s and the economic liberalisation policies of the 1970s and 1980s--the article argues that the policies of the Iraqi state became the main focus of political action within its borders as soon as the state came into existence. Contrary to widespread notions about the 'artificiality' of the Iraqi state, and thus the 'naturalness' of its possibly impending dismemberment along ethnic and religious lies, Iraq's unravelling, if it happens, will have been the result of the increasing competition for control over local resources by regional and sectarian leaders--a struggle made possible, even necessary, by the disintegration of the mechanisms of centralised governance under the US- and Britain sponsored regime.

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