Monday, May 16, 2005

tribalism and democracy, red and blue

Elections don't seem to have solved everything in Iraq. As a sign of how bad things are, consider that officials are trying to reassure people by downplaying "the possibility of outright sectarian war — characterizing some of the recent violence as tribal feuds..." It's not (yet) a sectarian civil war, merely violent anarchy. Quite reassuring.

Long-time readers of this blog will remember my befuddlement when the world celebrated the Iraqi elections as the dawn of a new nation, and my bemusement at the silence of the blogs. I won't claim to have foreseen today's problems, but I couldn't figure out how an election without Sunni participation would strengthen the country. The possibility that it would leave the Sunnis more isolated and alienated than before seemed equally likely.

But of course, I didn't see any evidence that Saddam was about to engage in undeterrable nuclear blackmail. I didn't even see compelling evidence of WMDs.

Meanwhile, back in the homeland, Newsweek prints some old news and gets blamed for starting riots. "Newsweek Lied, People Died" rings out across the blogosphere. August Pollack notes that, "This isn't even not caring. It's beyond not caring. It's taking pride in not caring."

He's right, of course. It's important to take pride in your team/tribe. That which makes our team strong is good. That which makes our team weak is evil. These days, however, the team isn't the country, it's a color. Are you red or blue?

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